Marjorie Lyons Playhouse at Centenary College presents "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" September 27-30
SHREVEPORT, LA — Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso will grace the stage at Centenary’s Marjorie Lyons Playhouse later this month as the Department of Theatre presents comedian Steve Martin’s short one-act play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Directed by Logan Sledge and featuring a cast of Centenary students, Martin’s absurdist work of historical fiction pushes audiences to ponder the role that both science and art play in our lives. MLP will present the play at 7:30 p.m. September 27 through 29, adding a 2:00 p.m. matinee on September 30.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile imagines a meeting between Picasso and Einstein in a bar in Paris in 1904, the year before Einstein unveiled his revolutionary theory of relativity and before Picasso began experimenting with cubism. Hilarity ensues as these two celebrities argue for the primacy of science and art, respectively, surrounded by a cast of supporting characters from the turn of the 20th century and beyond. A New York Times review notes that the play reflects many of the eclectic talents of its playwright, “stand-up comic, actor, writer, banjo player and something of a genius in his own right” Steve Martin, reminding audiences that “…when big questions are being addressed, you can be sure that a layer of silliness is always in place (and, subversively, a layer of seriousness beneath that).”
Director Logan Sledge, assistant professor of theatre at Centenary, sees Picasso at the Lapin Agile as an ideal play to present on a college campus. With characters engaged in passionate debate about theories and ideas, the play touches on history, philosophy, human behavior, and many other fields. At its core, Martin’s work demonstrates what Sledge describes as “the joy of thought.”
“This really resonates in a liberal arts environment like Centenary, where we are always looking at things from different points of view and searching for the connective tissue, the hyphen, that connects the ideas,” explains Sledge. “The challenge with a play like this, which contains mostly intellectual/philosophical humor, with some scatological humor thrown in for good measure (it is Steve Martin, after all), is to find the heart and soul of the show. We have an energetic young cast that is up to the task and they are going a very nice job in creating Martin’s colorful ensemble.”
Charles Peter Roppolo III, a freshman from Denham Springs, LA, is playing Einstein in his first production for Centenary.
“For me, the most challenging part of this role has been trying to find a believable way to play Einstein,” says Roppolo. “Most of the other actors can create their own characters without anyone noticing, but I have to create a character that people truly believe is Albert Einstein. I’ve really connected with Einstein’s flair and drive. I think the sparkle in his eye will keep the audience on the tips of their toes.”
Carlitos Cesar Ayma Gonzalez is also taking on a major role in his first appearance on the MLP stage. The freshman from San Antonio, TX, has gained some valuable insight playing Einstein’s counterpart, Picasso.
“The most meaningful part of the show for me is Picasso and Einstein finding common ground, demonstrating that no matter how drastically different people are, they can be connected by their ambition and overall thought process.”
Picasso at the Lapin Agile won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play and has enjoyed a long off-Broadway run. Tickets for the MLP production of Picasso are available at centenary.edu/mlp or by calling 318.869.5242. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors/military, and $5 for students with ID. Centenary students, faculty, and staff are free.