Friday, April 29, 2011

Last week for "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso"

This weekend is your last chance (in L.A.) to see Herbert Siguenza's one-man play, "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso."

Check out the following interview segment that the actor/playwright did with Mark Bly:

Picasso’s relationship to 20th century political movements was complex and in your play you explore that struggle. Can you characterize that epic “tug and pull” between art and politics that manifested itself in Picasso’s work?

Picasso’s long-time friend Jaime Sabartes said that, “Picasso is the most apolitical person I know.” I think to a certain degree it was true. Even though Picasso was a member of the French Communist Party and contributed to many leftist causes, he wasn’t politically or physically involved. He was sort of a Communist from afar. As long as he could paint what he wanted in freedom, he was content being in the Party for idealistic reasons. He was an artist first and foremost and an activist second. I have struggled with that “tug and pull” in my own life as a Chicano/Latino actor-activist. At one point you have to decide what you were meant to do in this life, you know? Are you an artist or a politician? Picasso remained free and true to his style, he never succumbed to the pressures of the Party to paint in a social realist manner. I believe theatre that is didactic and pounds you over the head is the worst kind of theatre and does not accomplish what it wants to do in the first place: make people think. If art does the thinking for you, what’s the use? That’s why Guernica is so amazingly powerful and eternal. It’s politically charged but aesthetically transcendental.

During the Cold War, Picasso did not fan the fire of nuclear destruction but rather was a global peace campaigner and contributed art and financial donations to many peace organizations and social causes. In fact, the iconography of the Peace Movement – the doves, flowers, children that are used today – was first created by Picasso in the late ‘50s! Picasso was a Humanist that just happened to be a Communist. We are lucky because Guernica, the peace dove, the hands holding flowers were created as if a child had drawn them and that is why it has lasted so long because it connects with our inner child full of joy, happiness and hope.

What the play shows, and is mentioned above, is that Picasso joined the Communist Party, but mostly based on stand, and as long as the Party did not "mess with him" when it came to his art, or art form, he went along with the Party even when he personally felt that the Party was taking wrong positions. This is a very important lesson to learn from when it comes to how artists should relate to revolutionary vanguard forces now, but especially in a future socialist society. That is to say, they should not just follow leadership blindly. (A true revolutionary communist organization will also, always, find ways to get the people they work with to ask questions).

Anyway, Siguenza is an amazing actor and this play is very funny, political and enjoyable, so you should all check it out at the L.A. Theater Center while you still can!

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