When James T. Spencer, director of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble (SUBE), turned to accept the applause at the 2018 Great American Brass Band Festival (GABBF) in Danville, Kentucky, he joked to himself, “Now what do we do for an…
Syracuse Stage’s 37th season starts with absurdist comedy by Steve Martin
Set in the real-life Parisian cafe Le Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit), “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” wonders what if contemporaries Picasso and Einstein accidentally met while in their 20s, just before the famous scientist transformed physics with his theory of relativity and the celebrated painter set the art world afire with cubism. Laughter, comedy, absurdity and some delightfully zany musings on the nature of art, science and the 20th century, as only Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) could render them. Plus a royal visit.
Recommended for ages 13 and up, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” runs Oct. 14-Nov. 1 in the Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.SyracuseStage.org, by phone at 315-443-3275 or in person at 820 E. Genesee St. “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” is sponsored by Constellation Energy, M&T Bank and Time Warner Cable. Media sponsors are WCNY, WAER 88.3 and Syracuse.com. Syracuse Stage season sponsors are The Post-Standard and Time Warner Cable.
“This play is like Beckett meets The Marx Brothers, influenced by Anton Chekhov and George Bernard Shaw, filtered through the wit and crazy mind of Steve Martin,” says Director Penny Metropulos. “The year is 1904. It’s the beginning of a new century, a time of relative innocence and some degree of romanticism. It was a time of breaking boundaries in science and art.”
Martin has written: “Focusing on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and Picasso’s master painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, the play attempts to explain, in a light-hearted way, the similarity of the creative process involved in great leaps of imagination in art and science.”
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” was Martin’s first full-length play. At its first reading in Martin’s Beverly Hills home, Tom Hanks read the role of Picasso and Chris Sarandon read the role of Einstein. A workshop at Australia’s Malthouse Theatre resulted in two public readings. Then in 1993, the play received its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, followed by a successful run in Los Angeles at the Westwood Playhouse (now known as the Geffen Playhouse). The 1995 production in New York City won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.
Martin was born in Waco, Texas, in 1945 and is one of today’s most popular performers. He achieved fame as a film actor, with such credits as “Roxanne,” “Father of the Bride,” “Parenthood,” “The Spanish Prisoner,” “L.A. Story” and “Bowfinger.” His acting career earned him several prizes, including an Emmy for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to his two New York Times bestsellers, “Shopgirl” and “Pure Drivel,” he has written nine screenplays.