By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
photo by Darren Scott
Herbert Siguenza in Arizona Theatre Company’s "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso."
“A Weekend With Pablo Picasso” won't tell you much about the iconic artist, but it will provide a chance to know more about yourself.
Imagine “A Weekend With Benjamin Franklin” that has a fat guy in a powdered wig spouting all the colorful aphorisms that have made BF one of America's favorite founding fathers.
“Weekend With PP” is like that – lots of insight culled from Picasso's own writing on the nature of creativity and his need to always be painting.
Herbert Siguenza is the writer and sole performer in “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso,” directed by Todd Salovey, presented by the Arizona Theatre Company at the Temple of Music and Art through April 26.
Painting is the first art form Siguenza pursued, years before he became an actor or writer. He paints quickly, and in the course of his 80 minute performance dashes through a complete painting (which is promptly sold in the lobby after each performance). Half the proceeds from each sale go directly to ATC's summer arts program for students.
As for the Picasso we see on stage, please note the title is “A Weekend with...” It isn't “The Life and Times of...” Or even “The Many Loves of...” There is little of the famous man's lurid lifestyle onstage here, or his compulsively manic-depressive personality.
Siguenza does have some powerful acting chops, however. In the opening scenes we get the twinkly Picasso, full of charm and nonsense about the need to be childlike and how a floppy old shoe can be turned into a art object if a person just has an eye for that sort of thing.
An unexpected knock on the door and Picasso explodes into a dizzying rage, throwing things and making us recall stories of his violent behavior.
But for the most part we are taken through one weekend in 1957 when the 75-year-old artist at home alone in the south of France has just agreed to provide six paintings and three pieces of pottery by Sunday evening to a wealthy aficionado who has the money to pay.
As Picasso probes his own brain, wondering what the heck he's going to paint, he's spouting tips on what it takes to be inspired, the need to keep painting no matter what and to keep digging deeper inside himself.
All the thoughts come directly from Picasso's own writing, which brings us back to the comparison with Ben Franklin. Everyone who values creativity in their own lives will find some nourishment here.
“What is more real,” Picasso asks. “The model who inspires the painting, or the painting that was inspired?”
“Art is the lie that makes us recognize the truth,” he says of the painter's role in society. Right along with “Painting is a blind man's profession.”
“A painting can only begin with a vague idea,” Picasso insists, staring once again at a blank white canvas, adding that “If you are waiting for inspiration, it had better find you working.”
“A Weekend With Pablo Picasso” runs through April 26 with performances at various times Tuesdays through Sundays at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Performances in Spanish are presented April 19 at 4 p.m. and April 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $37-$67. For details and reservations, arizonatheatre.org or 622-2823.