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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

March 6, 2009

Directing Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Julian Wiles

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:07 pm

Genius comes in many forms and certainly comic genius applies to comedian, writer, actor, juggler, and banjo player Steve Martin.  Steve Martin is an American original whose humor is not quite like anything experienced before or since.  It is our good fortune that Martin also has a passion for modern art and for the theatre, passions that gave us Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

      From the first reading in Steve Martin’s home in Hollywood (with Tom Hanks reading the part of Picasso) to an acclaimed production at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre to a laughing-in-the-aisles Off-Broadway run, Picasso at the Lapin Agile has kept ‘em laughing.

      The genius is how Steve Martin makes us laugh.  It’s not really through the plot or clever one-liners—though there are lots of them, but remarkably through an off-the-wall riff on the nature of genius itself or what happens when geniuses (and other visitors) from different worlds sit down to have a drink or two (or three) together.

      Martin sets this cosmic meeting at the Lapin Agile, a bar that is still serving drinks to the artists of Paris.  There Martin imagines a meeting between the young Albert Einstein and young Pablo Picasso.  It is 1904 just before both burst upon the world stage… Einstein with his Theory of Relativity and Picasso with cubism, the spark that ignited the modern art movement.  These two geniuses reinvented art and science in the 20th century.  This imaginary meeting between Al and Pablo is a great “what if” and a terrific launching pad for the fun that follows. 

            Added to this comic cocktail is a cast of eccentrics who stop in at the Lapin Agile, a crazy cast of characters, stirred well and poured up for our enjoyment.  In many ways, it’s like Cheers meets the Twilight Zone with a twist of Third Rock From The Sun thrown in for good measure.  My cast and I have had great fun exploring this wild-and-crazy universe and know you’re in for quite a ride!

 picasso_1.jpg

(Randy Risher as Albert Einstein and Charleston Stage Resident Actor Brian Zane as Pablo Picasso) 

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