Sunday, 20 May 2012

Adjudication of Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Compiled by Carol Beauchamp, Executive Director

Highlights from the detailed adjudication by Annette Procunier of Guelph Little Theatre’s presentation of Picasso At The Lapin Agile at Theatre Ontario Festival 2012.
  • Gerry Butts (Director) described their theatre space and the challenge of fitting their set into a proscenium that was 30 feet narrower here than they were in originally.
  • Why this play?  He loved the quirkiness of it.  Gerry has a science degree and friends who helped him understand the physics.
  • Annette: The characters in this play are truthful but each has a quirkiness.  This cast mined the quirkiness but did not fall into the trap of being too slapstick.  The actions and reactions of the actors were truthful and the actors found the “heart” of these characters.
  • Annette felt the confined space enhanced the production.  It was a workable space and the “regulars” looked like they belonged there.  Freddy and Germaine’s underlying action around the bar showed their comfort in the space.
  • An inherent challenge for the space is the Picture that is so much a part of the play.  Some of the entrances were difficult because of the placement of the door.  The performers needed to be more conscious of their movement through the door.
  • It was helpful that the bar had a step up/another level so that the actors were always seen.  The back of the bar: lots of variety in the bottles used, visually good
  • A successful lighting plot – not obtrusive and were could see well.
  • The ladies costumes were strong showing great attention to detail and were easy to move in.  The men were good and achieved the overall effect even when more modern pieces had to be used.  Excellent men's shoes – leather soles.
  • The music was well-chosen and set the mood. 
  • The breakaway wall and start were really well done.
  • There are a lot of characters on stage – the most of any play this week.  The stage was well used and good stage pictures were created in what was essentially a “gabby” play.
  • The actors handled the transitions from different kinds of conversations very well – big speeches versus daily speech.
  • Einstein’s hair worked well.
  • All the actors created very specific characters.  There are opportunities to explore the characterization – don’t allow it to get too big between Picasso and Einstein.  There tended to be a bit of sameness – loud, could be more subtle.
  • Created specific characters and had the audience interested.
  • The Countess, Suzanne and “The Woman” had more difficult parts as they are not part of the normal action of the bar – Countess’s exchange with Einstein was truthful, Suzanne set up Picasso for the audience, she could explore her relationship with Picasso some more.
  • There was a good sense of the relationship between the bartender and Germaine, they created a good environment on the stage.
  • The comic moments were well timed and discussion ensued around techniques to aid with diction.
  • There was also some lively discussion between the cast and Annette about some of Steve Martin’s writing – what exactly did he mean by some of the lines he wrote.
  • Picasso and Einstein had grounded performances and mirrored each other well. 
  • Elvis – the actor chose to portray the softness of the young Elvis, though there were opportunities for him to swagger more and try to use the guitar differently.  Note to actors – don’t let the props overwhelm you.
  • Great attention was paid to the comic moments in the play, e.g. Was Germaine’s reaction to Elvis’s country boy.
  • There was lively discussion about Gerry’s choice to have actors speak so directly to the audience, effectively taking themselves out of the action of the play. 
  • The characterization of Sagot and Schmendiman were very good.  Gerry spoke about his process – the characters are iconic e.g. Sagot is crassness, Einstein is science and this informed his direction.  However, the characters e.g. Schmendiman delivered the crassness with such truthfulness that it was funny.
  • For the audience, we know the play is not real but we accept the truthfulness of the play which comes from the consistency of the performances.  This company approached the complexity of the play with real integrity and overcame the difficulties of the script with truthfulness.
Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2012 on the Theatre Ontario website


  1. Damn, I wish I had seen this production. I could more appreciate the adjudication comments. Been there, of course, and done the festival adjudication thing, so I think the marks will be high. Well done, Guelph.

  2. Thanks Tom. I agree completely - it's definitely easier to appreciate the comments when you've seen the show as well. We want to try and share the Festival experience as broadly as possible, and I do think are a couple of good general takeaways here.

    Also, we hope to illuminate both the calibre of the shows at Festival, and the Festival Adjudication process to those who have never attended.

    We received lots of positive feedback on Annette's adjudications, and it sounds like there were good discussions with all of the participants.