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Theater Review: “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso”

“A Weekend with Pablo Picasso” plays through August 25, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Pablo Picasso lives again. That crazy Spaniard, who upended the art world with fanciful, sexy, goofy and/or stunning art works returns to the stage at New Village Arts to allow us mere mortals to spend 85 minutes with genius. 

He’s amazingly approachable – in fact, we meet him at 76, slipping into the bathtub of his flat in the south of France in 1957. We’ll share a weekend with him, while he attempts to fulfill a crazy commission: A rich lady wants to pick up six new paintings and three vases at the end of the weekend. 

What? That’s nuts. He doesn’t even know where to begin. But he picks up a brush and begins, because “to know what you want to paint, you must begin painting it.”  

What of inspiration? “Inspiration does not exist. If it does, it must find you working.” 

'Picasso is played by local treasure Herbert Siguënza, who has been resident playwright at San Diego Repertory Theatre for the past three years. He wrote this show about a decade ago. It has since been presented around the country. This incarnation will run through Aug. 25 at New Village Arts.

He roams the flat in underwear, smoking a Gauloise, making coffee and approaching a blank canvas – “the most terrifying thing for a painter to do.” 

While he paints, he gives us his philosophy of art. “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order for me to learn how to do it. If you know exactly what you are going to do, what’s the good of doing it? Do something else.” 

On a more serious note, Picasso tells us that “paintings are not just decorative objects, they are instruments of war” – an attitude borne out in his huge canvas “Guernica,” created in response to the bombing of that Spanish town by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Franco rose to power after that, and Picasso vowed never again to return to Spain. 

Siguënza, always an engaging presence onstage (he is one of the founders of the comedy performance troupe Culture Clash in 1984), is also an artist in his own right. Here, he will create several pieces – including one of Picasso’s bullfight pieces – before your eyes. 

It’s a tour de force performance from one of the best creators around, and a fascinating evening at the theater. Don’t miss it.

The details

“A Weekend with Pablo Picasso” plays through August 25, 2019 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.

Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm.; Sunday at 2 and 7 pm.