The New Ensemble theater company on Friday opens an intriguing new play, “A Picasso,” at the Broken Leg Stage. I caught up with director Heather Parish for an interview. A condensed version runs in Friday’s 7 section. Here’s the extended version:
Briefly put, what is the play about?
The year is 1941, the Germans have rolled into Paris and Pablo Picasso has been ushered into a makeshift office by a beautiful Nazi bureaucrat to authenticate three works of art the Reich have recently “acquired” for exhibition. Soon, the master artist learns that the exhibition is a burning of art designated as “degenerate” by the Germans. A battle of wits ensues between the tough-minded Nazi and the passionate artist over the survival of Picasso’s work– and possibly the survival of the man himself.
What can you tell us about the play’s production history?
Jeffrey Hatcher, a very prolific playwright and screenwriter, wrote the piece when grappling with issues concerning his own art and the critical reaction to it. As such, it tends to resonate with artists of any stripe who put their work out there for public comment.
It premiered in 2003 by the Philadelphia Theater company. A subsequent production followed in 2004 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami starring Lucie Arnaz (who has had a strong regional theater career in Florida) as the Nazi. After that, the eminent Manhattan Theater Club in NYC picked it up with Dennis Boutsikaris and Jill Eikenberry playing the roles. Since then, it has been seen in myriad regional theater companies, including San Jose Repertory in 2009.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith do a lot of charity work – some that makes headlines and other work that goes unnoticed. Either way, the charity work is nothing the Hollywood power couple does for attention.
“It’s just a priority for us, something that’s part of the DNA of what we do,” Jada tells me during a break on a location shoot for her TNT series “HawthoRNe.”
The charity work is both big and small. Will tends to get approached a lot by youngsters who want to meet him through the Make a Wish program. Jada prefers a more grassroots type of charity work.
No matter whether the Smiths are in Ohio or Africa, they look for ways to help the community.
“I love going into inner-city communities to find local organizations who do great things but don’t necessarily have the funds to keep the ball rolling in these tough financial times,” Jada says. “That’s the kind of people who kept me and Will – and people we know – going and helped keep our dreams moving forward.”
In years past, customers have lined up early outside the store for the first crack at the popular corn that is 99 cents for three ears this year.
Fresno State’s hand-picked corn arrives at the market at Barstow and Chestnut avenues minutes after harvest – a freshness that ensures high quality, sweetness and tenderness, said Gary Chavira, manager of the campus farm’s Vegetable Crops Enterprise.
“In spite of the cold weather that delayed our corn by two weeks, the student-produced corn is looking very good in the field and will turn out to be one of the best-tasting and sweetest corn crops produced by Fresno State during the past 15 years,” Chavira said.
Because of all the extra interest, Fresno State’s Gibson Farm Market is running extended “corn hours” this weekend — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
A couple of young party-rap acts — The Starting Six and T. Mills — are making Fresno stops this weekend. They’re not exactly my flavor, but the kids are into ‘em, so I’m expecting wild shows. Here’s an introduction:
THE STARTING SIX The Starting Six is a Bay Area-based rap group who fit quite snug into what’s being calling “frat-rap.” This ain’t for the streets, more for the dudes playing beer pong at college parties. The Starting Six is performing Friday at The 509, 3509 First St. (which I’m pretty sure is some kind of makeshift venue, ’cause I’ve never heard of it before). It’s all ages, 21+ to drink. Tickets cost $20-$25. More info here.
Here’s their current single, “Yogi.” (Warning: Language NSFW)
Answering the phone can be an adventure. Most of the time, the caller just wants to wish me an early death.
A phone call earlier today caught me by surprise.
A female voice on the other end of the line said, “Hi. My name is (not being used to save any embarrassment). I am 5-7 and I have no problem showing you my breasts.”
Because no credit card information had been exchanged, there had to be another explanation. It dawned on me the caller had read my story in today’s Fresno Bee about auditions for the film “Bigfoot’s Wild Weekend.” Some of the roles will require nudity.
So instead of asking the caller if she had a phone that takes photos, I directed her to the right number. Those of you willing to show your breasts for a chance to be in a movie should call (559) 676-8418.
If you haven’t gone to Google’s homepage today, go now. It’s really cool: They created a playable guitar to honor guitar legend Les Paul. Just move your mouse over the strings and strum away. You can even record your song and share it. Here’s a video someone posted on You Tube playing.
So, have some fun. I sure enjoyed take a few minutes to marvel at the creativity and play a little tune.
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): The early rounds of this dance competition show don’t tend to be as crazy or interesting as the tryouts for “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent.”