HOUSTON -- Okay, theater buffs, guess which short absurdist play this monologue is from:
"Madness! Madness! Madness! Men are mad. The sash of the veil that hangsfrom the eyelashes of the shutters wipes pink clouds on the apple-colored mirror of the sky, which awakens already at your window. I am off to the cafe at the corner to tear off with my claws the remains of the chocolatecolor that still prowls in the blackness of its coffee."
I'll give you a hint. The "character" who recites it is listed as "Round Piece," and other players include "The Onion," "Fat Anxiety," "Thin Anxiety," and "The Curtains." No answer? Here's another clue: pay attention to the visuals in the speech. Still stumped? Well, what if I told you that its original reading, in 1944, included a cast of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dora Maar, and Raymond Queneau, with Albert Camus annoucing the stage directions?
Give up? The monologue is from Desire Caught by the Tail. The author is Pablo Picasso. Yes, that one, the Spanish artist.
On March 6, at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, and then again on Monday, March 9, at Lincoln Center in New York, Da Camera of Houston, a ten-year-old producer and presenter of ensemble music, offers Desire Caught by the Tail as part of the organization's ongoing linkage of music with other art forms. Called "Surrealism: Music, Art, Film and Literature," and conceived and directed by Da Camera artistic director Sarah Rothenberg, the multi-media event also features surrealist-inspired musical compositions by Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, George Antheil, Georges Auric, and Erik Satie. Rene Clair's classic silent film short Entr'acte is on the bill too. Rothenberg, a pianist of much renown, plays. She is joined by acclaimed Bosnian pianist Pedja Muzijevic and other classical musicians. Baritone William Sharp sings. Local celebrities read Picasso's play.
"Picasso's play," Rothenberg has written, "offers us a rare opportunity to see the artist's visual virtuosity translated into verbal language. Composed in the 1940s in German-occupied Paris, the sensual, vivid imagery creates a rich linguistic orgy; yet the ribald humor that results often masks a deeper desperation revealed by the themes of voracious hunger and unsatisfied passion." Like all genres of surrealism, the play interrupts its narrative logic with surprising juxtapositions that undercut rationalism and privilege the unconscious."
Desire Caught by the Tail, part of "Surrealism: Music, Art, Film and Literature," plays Friday, March 6 at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, courtesy of De Camera of Houston. For tickets, $15 - $30, call (713) 524-5050
-- By Peter Szatmary