“Picasso & Einstein walk into a bar…” – In Conversation with Will King & Dylan Evans of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”
Interview by Ryan Quinn
RQ: Tell me a little about the show itself and your production of it.
WK: Steve Martin (the established comedian, actor, writer, banjo aficionado) has written a play that features a young Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein at the tipping point of their careers. It takes place at the Lapin Agile, a fictional bar in 1904 Paris, where notable intellectuals and visionaries go to talk about their manifestos. It also features a wide range of characters that gravitate to that space. It expertly deconstructs the intersection between art and science, and somehow manages to remain brilliantly funny.
We’re doing it site-specific at an event space in Kensington Market called Round. When we decided to produce it, we knew we wanted to get away from a traditional performance space. We wanted our audience to see the sparks fly between the actors, and really feel immersed in their revelations. We also thought they might like a beer!
RQ: In what ways do you think this show questions how we look at art or innovation?
DE: This play challenges anyone’s personal definition of art. Einstein argues that his scientific discoveries are art, whereas Picasso dismisses these as mere equations. Steve Martin tells us that science is more than numbers: it’s a vision, it’s imagination, and then it’s trying to capture that and turn it into something calculable. We can’t dive into a black hole, or travel to other solar systems, but we can dream it. And then we can take that dream and see if we can prove it.
RQ: How do you think your choice of site-specific theatre informs or enhances the piece?
WK: I love the intimacy. Performing in the round (pun intended) just feels right.
DE: I had a very clear image in my mind of what I envisioned the space looking like. When we walked into The Round for our photo shoot I was blown away by how much the space looked like what I had imagined. I had no trouble believing that I had just entered a bohemian Paris bar circa 1904. It makes a huge difference as a performer, and hopefully for the audience too. You’re right there in the bar with us. You can grab a drink and be a fellow patron in the Lapin Agile with a host of eccentric characters. So it is definitely an engaging performance and the wonderful venue is a big part of that.
RQ: What can you tell me about Seven Siblings theatre?
WK: Madryn, Erika, and I founded Seven Siblings Theatre while gaining our teacher certification at the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium in Kent, Ohio. We shared the same ideals of theatre, a similar process, and wanted to bring more Fantastic Realism into Toronto’s indie theatre community. We aim to help artists develop their psychophysical connection, and dig deeply into the atmospheres of each production. By the end of each process, our artists have a range of tools and exercises from the Michael Chekhov work to play with.
RQ: Why did you choose this piece as your next production?
WK: I am adamant that everything we work on needs to present a new challenge. We’ve played with malleable classical text, highly dangerous subject matter, explosive absurdist and visual performance styles, and now we’re tapping into an immersive experience. This is one of the most playful pieces I’ve ever worked on, and the incredible duality between farce and intelligence made it a no-brainer.
RQ: If you were going to set this show in 2016, which people would be the closest parallels to the way this show characterizes Picasso and Einstein?
WK: That’s a tough one. A lot of the charm in this piece is that they’re diamonds in the rough.
DE: [In terms of banter] Stephen Hawking and John Oliver (because that first interview was too good not to have a sequel). Bill Nye and Bob Ross. Spock and Han Solo.
WK: Yeah. Einstein’s definitely the Han Solo of this show.
RQ: If you could give this show a soundtrack, what three songs would be must-haves?
The Scientist – Coldplay
The Life of Pablo (the entire album) – Kanye West (Tidal required)
Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65
Bistro Fada – Stephane Wrembel (watch Midnight in Paris for context)
Space Oddity – David Bowie
Sounds of Science – Beastie Boys
DE & WK:
*Bonus Track* Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
Picasso at the Lapin Agile
Presented by Seven Siblings Theatre
A play by Steve Martin
Directed by Erika Downie
Featuring Dylan Mawson, Jamie Johnson, Madryn McCabe, Will King, Erin Burley, Erik Helle, Dylan Evans, Andrew Gaunce and Maxwell LeBoeuf
Stage Manager Jocelyn Levadoux
Production Manager Kate MacArthur
Lighting Designer Parker Nowlan
Dialect Coach Margaret Hild
Run Time: 90 minutes
February 25 at 7:30pm
February 26 at 7:30pm
February 27 at 2:00pm (Matinee)
February 28 at 7:30pm
February 25-28 $25
Round, 152A Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market, Toronto, Ontario