Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Yasmina Reza's play "Art" Franklin May 19th

I wanted to give you a head's up on this week's TiLT Reader's Theatre. It's Yasmina Reza's play "Art". The performance is at Franklin's Barrow Civic Little Theatre (1223 Liberty St, Franklin PA 16323). Doors open around 7:30pm, cover is $3 with a cash bar. The show starts at 8pm has a ten minute intermission and runs about 1 hour 20 minutes (wihout intermission).

The lovely and talented Amy Dittman is the hostess for the evening and Kim Tarr, Michael Molitoris, and I, Michael Dittman, are providing the talent (or at least
Kim and Molitoris are...).

The story, about art and friendship, is marvelously simple. A man, Serge (Molitoris), buys a modern painting for a relatively large sum of money (200,000
French francs). It is basically a large canvas, about five foot by four, painted white, with "fine white diagonal scars". One friend to whom he shows off his new purchase, Marc (Tarr), is completely unsettled by Serge's purchase. Another mutual friend, Yvan (Dittman), is more ambivalent.

At issue, in part, is the question: "What is art ?" The white canvas pushes at the limits of the definition in the age-old debate. There are, however, more layers to the question, and to Reza's play. Central to the piece, for Serge, is the official
sanction -- "Huntingdon would take it off my hands for two hundred and twenty" is Serge's first justification of the price. The artist, Antrios, is "well-known",
and it is "worth mentioning" that it is a seventies Antrios. The experts say it is significant, so Serge believes it is.

However, Serge also wants validation from his friends. They, in turn, question their relationship with a man willing to spend such a large amount of money on
something that they find hard pressed to consider 'art.' In the end the play is, in fact, not about art at all. As Robert Hurwitt observed in a review for the San Francisco Chronicle, ‘‘Art isn’t about aesthetics but the psychological, emotional and power dynamics of friendship.’’

The purchase of the painting by Serge comes to symbolize a deeper rift in his friendship with Marc, a piece of concrete evidence that the two of them have
grown apart. Yvan attempts to play the part of mediator between Serge and Marc but is inevitably drawn into the conflict at a deeper level.

When we first chose "Art" for Reader's Theatre, I had second thoughts about maybe it being too intellectual. Howver, after rehearsal on Sunday when we are laughing so hard that incontinence was a cleaar and present danger, I came to realize that it is a show that must be seen to truly understood and enjoyed.

I hope you'll be able to drop by - I'll be using it as an offical end of the semester blow out and would love to celebrate with you.

Looking ahead, my latest novel, Small Brutal Incidents comes out on the 28th of this month. I'm currently putting together the book tour - we've got dates in NYC, Philly and Boston, but my heart belongs to the NWPA region, so if you'd like me to come to your town, or you know a venue that might like to host me, please drop me an email.

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