Amber Gitter on directing Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile in Tel-Aviv, Israel:
Changing and expanding Israelis' view of theater
I direct plays that I like. I pick these plays because they have impacted me in such a way that I become so emotionally and intellectually attached to them. I want to direct them myself so my community can share the same (or similar) experiences that I initially had. Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile is that play.
Back in 1993, I, a 23 year old young girl, still learning the craft of theater and with the knowledge similar to that of the actual nitwit character, "Charles Dabernow Schmendiman" from the play, sat center row of the basement theater at Stephenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and saw for the first time, the world premiere of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile. I laughed gloriously for 80 minutes.
I was amazed, in awe actually, to see this simple set design: a bar called The Lapin Agile with an ensemble cast so vibrant with personality elegantly sifting through it, interpreting one of the most famous, and newly comedic, playwrights of my generation: Steve Martin and his world premiere comedy directed by the talented and former Artistic Director Randall Arney. Who would not want to see Pablo Picasso meet Albert Einstein at a bar? Who would not want to see these two geniuses discuss their theories, visions of the future and dance with sexy ladies of their generation?
Since I've been living here in Israel, I realize the public's exposure to theater is somewhat limited. Israelis have not seen many works of modern playwrights; they have not seen this great play or know that Picasso at the Lapin Agile was the recipient the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Off Broadway Play and sold out to packed houses in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Now 23 years later, I, a 45 year old lady, aging somewhat gracefully, I think, and living in Israel as a converted Jewish divorcee; I've come back to my passion, which is stage directing. What else am I to do in Israel who doesn't speak Hebrew fluently? I'm still not directing on Broadway in New York or at Goodman in Chicago, and never will be, but I still enjoy the craft and admire great talent. And I'll never forget the greatest city that I miss so much: Chicago. So, if I'm going to revisit my passion: stage directing; I'll also honor the people who taught me this complicated craft as well: the Chicago theater community. I've learned from some of the greatest, I must say. We all know who you are (or once were).
So bringing Steve Martin's classic to Israel makes sense to me. An educated Israeli population, that thinks outside-the-box, would enjoy this kind of comedy. Israeli citizens-Hebrew, French and English speaking communities alike, are ready to explore and enjoy creative works, like Picasso at the Lapin Agile. They really do need to laugh. How many times can one see RENT or Fiddler on the Roof over and over again? It's time to expand minds, enrich souls with laughter, not be stuck in the same genre of the same old, same old. It's time to step forward and meet some great comical characters! And in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile there are some really great characters! It's the play that explores issues we are still afraid to talk about: sex, alcohol, growing old and the fear of not succeeding. Even Einstein and Picasso had fears of not "making it."
I'm ready to introduce Israel to a whole new style of theater; I'm bringing Chicago style theater to Israel. Chicago is the home of the Blues, Second City; and where Steve Martin premiered his first comedy: Picasso at the Lapin Agile back in 1993. He premiered it at one of the greatest theater companies in Chicago: Stephenwolf Theatre Company. I dedicate these performances to the Chicago theater community. Thank you for teaching me so much. Ah... Sweet, Sweet, Home Chicago.
The Stage is proud to be able to help artists such as Amber Gitter realize their artistic visions, and is honored to be able to open its 2016 performance year with this 80 minute one-act production.
Tickets are available for 80 and 90NIS. Discounts are offered for students and soldiers.
To purchase tickets and to get more information, click here!