Whether it's life that imitates art or art that imitates life, theatre will imitate the life of an artist as Lapis Blue Blood Red plays at downtown Manhattan's HERE Arts Center. The Juggernaut Theatre Company's production of Cathy Caplan's play about the life and strife of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi began Feb. 1 and opens Feb. 11 for a run through March 3.
Gentileschi, daughter to Baroque painter Orazio Gentileschi, was already an accomplished artist by her teens. Her life was then turned upside-down when in 1612 (at the age of 19), she was raped by a close friend her father hired to tutor her. The rape was made public in a trial against her attacker who failed on his promise to marry her alleging she was promiscuous. The traumatic event changed her life and her work as is evident in her subsequent and most famous painting "Judith Slaying Holofernes."
Lapis Blue Blood Red is sampled from Gentileschi's letters and the actual text of the trial. The play sets itself at the time of the rape and the following trial when she was betrayed by her father and in 1638 when she was an established artist now with a daughter of her own.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be exhibiting the works of both Gentileschi at their Manhattan galleries at 1000 Fifth Avenue from Feb. 14-May 12. The special presentation will include feature 50 works by her father and 35 works of Artemisia including the aforementioned painting.
The Juggernaut production helmed by Paul Smithyman and spotlights a cast that includes Natalie Arkus, Erica Berg, Peter Blomquist, C.J. Wilson, Meg Gibson, Dustin Smith, Scott Sowers, and Chandler Vinton. Lapis Blue Blood Red was first produced in 1995 at Baltimore's Theatre Project by the Splitting Image Theatre Company. For tickets to Lapis Blue Blood Red at HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue (between Spring and Broome St.), call (212) 647-0202. Sunday matinees are followed by symposia with scholars and artists on February 10, 17, and 24. For more information, visit www.here.org.
— by Ernio Hernandez