Picasso at the Lapin Agile: The Creative Process Through Humor
“Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein walk into a bar…” [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_video admin_label=”Video” src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37kyr5NmGGA”] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
It might sound like the setup to a kitschy joke, but it’s actually the unique and inventive premise behind the latest show to hit the Majestic’s main stage, Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
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This comedic turn for two of the greatest intellectuals of our time comes from the comedic mind of actor Steve Martin. Famous for his work on Saturday Night Live and for movies like The Jerk and The Three Amigos, Martin originally wrote Picasso at the Lapin Agile for the stage in 1993, as part of a small collection of plays.
It follows the story of Einstein and Picasso as they stop into a quaint French bar, the Lapin Agile, in the year 1904. The two men are on the brink of brilliance but find themselves stuck in the ruts of the creative process. Along the way, patrons of the Lapin Agile jump in to add their varied perspectives. From the owner of the Lapin Agile to a fascinating visitor, the cast of characters that surround these two geniuses add to the chaos in brilliantly unique ways.
This production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile is being directed by Jeannette Miller and will run for two consecutive weekends, starting Feb. 19 at 7:30 pm. Tickets will be $16 for adults, $14 for members, seniors, and students.
We spoke with Director Jeannette Miller about the play and how she feels about bringing Martin’s unique view of the comedic world to the stage.
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Miller recalled when she found the play down in California and how it became an instant favorite of hers.
“I discovered Picasso at the Lapin Agile in 1996 while working in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry,” Miller explained. “I had access to a lot of material for the big and small screen at the time; however, live action was more exciting to me. I have always liked Steve Martin, so when I came across his play released in book form, which included three short plays, I knew I needed to read it. I have been dreaming of directing this play for the last 20 years, so when the opportunity to propose a show for the next season came up, I met with Jimbo, and we decided Picasso would be the best show to debut as an up and coming Director for the Majestic Theatre.”
When asked to describe the play, Miller honed in on the cleverness and intelligent humor in Martin’s script.
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile is funny,” Miller stated plainly. “Deeply funny. Smart. One line or word in the beginning foreshadows a punchline later in the play. The math checks out. The science checks out. The references to the “art of the negro” check out. There are so many layers and the play is so deftly written, I am still figuring things out and finally getting some of the “hidden” jokes after 20 years.”
As funny as it may be, Picasso at the Lapin Agile also covers some deep intellectual ground that creative people should relate to, as Miller explained when discussing the main theme of the piece.
“For me, the main idea or theme is creativity comes in many forms and from many origins. We learn from each other and we express our talent, creativity, and thoughts in different ways. All of those ways are correct. A formula, a painting, and a song can change the course of the future instantly.”
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Jeannette Miller’s relationship with the arts began shortly after birth. As soon as she could make sounds, she was singing and performing. This led to a career building up her entertainment capital in Los Angeles. After years of writing for other actors and work as a voice-over artist, life led Miller towards Oregon. She currently sings in a band called Summer Rental, she has been on stage at the Majestic in Les Miserables, and she works with the Playwrights Lab. Her latest featured work, Fear Camp, was one of the plays featured in Love in Unexpected Places. [/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
Any director can work with an excellent script and fall short of greatness without a fantastic cast. That is not the case for Miller, as she struck gold and found herself surrounded by brilliant actors.
“The cast is fantastic!” Miller said. “The play is written with younger actors in mind as Picasso and Einstein are written in their early 20’s. The people who came to the audition was another age range altogether. I was so lucky! I have veteran actors and first time actors sharing the stage and they are doing an amazing job. A true representation of the community in one show.”
Miller’s 20 year long journey from discovering the play in LA to finally being able to put the play up on stage here at the Majestic is coming to a close and she couldn’t be more excited to bring this play to the community.
“To witness this show come to life after playing it in my head for so long is the most exciting part for me,” Miller gushed. “To be the director and to express my interpretation of Steve Martin’s words is an opportunity I thought I might never experience which makes me extremely grateful to Jimbo, the Majestic Theatre, and the proposal process.”
Miller believes that most anyone in Corvallis would love this piece and hopes that everyone makes their way out to the Majestic to catch this wonderful performance.
“People who love their brains engaged in entertainment and who love to laugh is the audience I want,” Miller said. “There are many layers of talent to Steve Martin. People who type cast him in their mind as a “wild and crazy guy” or the wacky characters from his movies and think this show is not for them, will miss out! Steve Martin is an amazing writer, comedian, musician, and performer. If anyone in Corvallis or surrounding areas does not see this show, they are missing out!”
If you love that “wild and crazy guy” or are looking to be intellectually stimulated while simultaneously belly laughing, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is right up your alley. One thing’s for sure, the play will definitely deliver a punchline stronger than anything that could follow “Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein walk into a bar and…” ever could.
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