This week’s blog features Rich Rubin, one of the playwrights participating in the 2019 New Works Festival at Gulfshore Playhouse. His play, PICASSO IN PARIS, will have a one-week workshop at the theater followed by a public reading at 3 pm on Sunday, September 15th.
Gulfshore Playhouse: Welcome to the Festival, Rich!
Rich Rubin: Thanks! I’m really looking forward to both the workshop and the public reading. It’s an exciting opportunity and should also be great fun.
GP: How long have you been writing plays?
RR: For about ten or twelve years. I’m currently a member of two playwright groups in Portland, OR, Nameless Playwrights and LineStorm Playwrights. Each group meets on a monthly basis. Fresh pages of new work are read by local actors, and then folks ask questions or offer comments. I was very inexperienced at the outset and my early efforts were pretty embarrassing. However, over time I’ve learned a huge amount from the actors as well as the other playwrights. I’ve been very fortunate over the past few years, and have had a number of readings and productions both nationally and internationally.
GP: How did you come up with the idea for PICASSO IN PARIS?
RR: I came across a book called The Art of Rivalry by an art critic named Sebastian Smee. The book provides an in-depth look at the complicated and often contentious relationships that artists have with their contemporaries. The chapter that especially caught my attention was the one describing the relationship between Picasso and Matisse in the early years of the twentieth century.
GP: How would you describe that relationship?
RR: It was a very intense rivalry. The two men met in 1906, when Picasso was twenty-five and Matisse was thirty-six. They were actually introduced by Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo. The Steins were avid art collectors and were living in Paris at the time. They recognized Picasso and Matisse as artists of exceptional talent, and felt the two of them should get to know each other.
GP: How did that go? I have to assume each man had a personal agenda, not to mention a super-sized ego.
RR: Oh, absolutely! Their personalities were totally different. Matisse was already well-known and was the acknowledged leader of a group of avant-garde artists. Picasso, on the other hand, was just beginning to be recognized. Coming from Spain, he was a relative outsider, with a reputation as being arrogant and sullen. Their personal lives were also very different: Matisse’s life was much more settled; he was married and had several children. Picasso’s world was much more disorderly and volatile. Despite these differences, there was mutual respect and, yes, even a grudging friendship of sorts. Make no mistake, though: Each man wanted to be hailed as the greatest artist of his age, and that fierce rivalry is at the center of the play’s action. On both a cerebral level and a gut level, I find their relationship utterly fascinating and full of surprises. I think the audience will enjoy watching how it all plays out!
GP: Why should people come out to the New Works Festival?
RR: Because immersing yourself in new works of theatre is not just exciting and fun for me, it’s also exciting and fun for the audience! Kristin Clippard, the director of PICASSO IN PARIS, has a wealth of experience, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with her. Gulfshore Playhouse has a growing, nationwide reputation for new play development, with Kristen Coury and Jeff Binder in the forefront of that effort. Playwrights all over the country have taken notice, and we’re all very appreciative.
For information about The New Works Festival go to https://www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org/event/new-works-festival/.