The Art of Making Art by Kristen Coury

Doing “Reza in Rep” has been an exciting ride.  Parisian Yasmina Reza, is the only contemporary female playwright to have won two Tony Awards.  And guess what?  They happen to be ‘Art’ and God of Carnage, the two shows that we are doing in Rep!
What does Rep mean?  It means that I am directing ‘Art’.  The cast consists of three actors: our new Artistic Associate, Cody Nickell, as well as Philadelphia actor Scott Greer, and New York-based actor Brit Whittle.  Cody is directing God of Carnage.  Scott and Brit will star in that, with the addition of two actresses: Portland actress Laura Faye Smith, and New York-based actress Brigitte Villieu- Davis.  We will perform these plays in a cycle, one each night.  The set will totally transform in between.  On Saturdays we will do both: one at 4pm and the other at 8pm. Oh la la, quelle aventure!
Directing ‘Art’ has been an adventure for sure.  All three actors, who are also busily working on Carnage, are with me only every other day.  That means one and sometimes two days go by between our rehearsals, and I have time to catch up with office tasks, like writing this blog!
One of our first Gulfshore Playhouse productions was Reza’s Life x 3.  It is a pleasure to direct Reza.  Her plays are so completely Universal, accessible, hilarious and thought-provoking.  Through very specific stories we see ourselves.
In general, I see Reza’s dialogue as crisp, terse and to the point.  She’s excellent with rhythm and humor and knows exactly what to say to rip your heart out or make you laugh out loud.  In order to be brought to life optimally, the actors need to fully invest in these people’s stories, in a kind of heightened manner that I always say reminds me of Shakespeare.
Through very specific stories we see ourselves.  What the story of ‘Art’ amounts to, is not only three men who’s friendship is at stake over a painting.
The real question is, would YOU consider ending a long-term friendship if your friend bought a painting you deemed worthless for more money than you made in a year?
What if they voted for the wrong Presidential candidate?
Or went to the wrong church?
As human beings, we live in a delicate world consisting of part truth, part perception and part self-construction.  By that I mean sometimes we tell others what they’d prefer to hear, and, worse yet, we do that with ourselves as well.  Sometimes it’s easier to “go with the crowd” and denounce a long-standing friendship on the basis of “principal.”  Sometimes all we want is to be loved and approved of, and we will risk everything to get that.  At our core we’re all still 14 year olds wanting to hang around with the popular crowd.  The question is, how far would you go to gain approval, fit in, or say the right thing?  And how quick would you be to judge or condemn someone else if that person acted outside your “agreed upon norms of behavior?”
This is an age-old question, and one that is so beautifully examined in ‘Art’.  I hope to see you there.  But even if I don’t, don’t worry, our friendship will still be in tact.

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