Wednesday, May 6, 2015

reviews - A WEEKEND WITH PABLO PICASSO - Arizona Theatre Company

Herbert Siguenza
Photo: Darren Scott / Arizona Theatre Company
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

 "Just as the title suggests, in the Arizona premiere of the one-man play A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, presented by Arizona Theatre Company, we get to spend three days in the company of the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in his studio in the south of France.  Only, the play isn’t exactly a one-man show.  We all play a part; everyone in the theatre...True, there’s only one performer on stage –  Herbert Siguenza; visual artist, actor and writer – but there’s a fun construct to the ninety minute proceedings that makes a difference. ...This particular weekend isn’t about Picasso’s life or even a juicy look at some of the more controversial aspects of the artist’s history or his affairs, though for those unfamiliar with Picasso’s character, there will be glimpses into those areas; this is about the creative process....Written by the performer though based on the writings of the artist and shaped by Todd Salovey’s brisk and lively direction, there is much unexpected humor as Siguenza’s Picasso breaks into dance or philosophizes.  But amidst the entertainment, there’s something missing; it’s the fulfillment of learning or understanding anything we didn’t already know about the man.  Referring to women as being either goddesses or doormats is a glimpse of the artist’s less than admirable reflection or attitude, and anything about his family is mentioned only in passing.  If you knew nothing of Picasso’s life or history, there’s little new to consider as you leave the theatre.  In fact, once you make your exit, the play is already fading, but what it does achieve is illustrating something that more in-depth biographical productions rarely cover; it makes the work behind the creative process something to celebrate." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"... A Weekend with Pablo Picasso...While the play itself is a disjointed affair, the larger than life persona that Siguenza brings to the famous artist is a joy to experience....Over the course of the 90-minute play, Siguenza's Picasso teaches us about art, life and love, we watch him create and we learn a little about the man himself....While the majority of the "lessons" we are given are about art, Siguenza also weaves into the play details about Picasso's life. We get snippets about the influence that politics had on both him and his paintings, how a vow he made with God when his sister was dying could have stopped him from painting all together, and how the many women he loved in his lifetime took a toll on him as well. While Siguenza interweaves these details effectively into the piece, they don't have much of a payoff and seem to exist to just check off a list of facts that he wants us to know about the artist. ...comments only scratch the surface of these serious subjects, with no additional information stated before moving on to the next item on the list. It is because of this lax structure and focus that, while we feel like we have spent a weekend with Picasso, we never clearly understand who the man is beyond seeing his playfulness and his attention to his craft....what helps A Weekend with Pablo Picasso become an interesting theatrical piece is that Siguenza paints several pieces throughout the play. While some are only brief sketches, the speed at which he paints, the joy of seeing the art of creation unfold on stage, and the sheer exuberance Siguenza has in playing Picasso, help to bring the play to life.Victoria Petrovich has created a stream of interesting projections, including pieces of artwork, newsreel footage, photographs, and even a letter that help to make Picasso's larger than life personality explode across the stage....Picasso's belief that you paint what you feel and not what you see is at the center of A Weekend with Pablo Picasso. Unfortunately, we don't quite feel much from the play since Siguenza only scratches the surface of Picasso's life. While the play is considerably disjointed and wanders all over the place, Siguenza's lively take on Picasso, how he demonstrates how the artist lived life to its fullest, and his ability to create art in front of our eyes helps offset some of the play's shortcomings and brings Picasso's statement that "life and possibilities are everywhere" vibrantly to life." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"It’s impossible not to be enraptured by actor/storyteller Herbert Siguenza as he bounds about the stage with dynamic energy bringing artist Pablo Picasso to vibrant life in Arizona Theatre Company’s season closer, A Weekend with Pablo Picasso.... Siguenza helps audiences understand how and why Picasso expressed his brilliance through his artistic creations....Perhaps the best thing about A Weekend with Pablo Picasso is not only Siguenza’s boundlessly delightful performance but the script, also crafted exquisitely by the actor, that tells so much about the artist in a non-didactic learning situation that is a joy to watch....At the play’s end, you will know more about Picasso than you ever gleaned from school studies and the actor allows audiences to experience daily life with Picasso so he can demonstrate how everyday chores and occurrences inspired the artist’s creations. Watching Siguenza is magical fun and the play zips by.  A Weekend with Pablo Picasso is a delightful journey, a fascinating learning tool, and a wonderful performance by Herbert Siguenza as he helps audiences understand the artist and his motivations." -Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"Set in 1957 in the South of France, the play is a labor of love inspired by Siguenza's lifelong admiration for Picasso as both a painter and a personality, and the playwright-actor's passion for his subject shines through in every scene. It's entertaining fare but rather thin. There is no dramatic tension or character arc, and as a feel-good artistic manifesto, it's utterly lacking in ...introspection and intellectual heft...In addition to its star's sprightly performance, the most memorable aspect of A Weekend With Picasso is the visuals. The paintings and sculptures that litter the studio all were created by Siguenza in the style of the master, and there's a wonderful digitally animated sequence in which a painting in progress morphs from image to image in dreamlike free association that packs all the joy and sorrow of the entire play into a few magical moments." -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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