A must see play for art lovers, history lovers, play lovers, and really just any “lover” alike. Guernica began as a stage reading performance for NextFest 2010 (part of the Enbridge High School Series); almost a year later Guernica manifested itself into a full on production for NextFest 2011. Which brings us to now, where it’s currently being presented as an anticipated play for viewers at the Edmonton Fringe Festival 2011.
Guernica is the recount of the making of Pablo Picasso’s famous canvas painting, “Guernica.” Picasso’s painting was created from his outrage over the unnecessary bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica by German and Italian nationalist forces preparing for WWII airstrikes. The play captures the horrific day in which these bombings occurred, which practically destroyed the small town and its population. Retold through the eyes of Pablo Picasso, the audience goes on a journey as five town members (a mother, prostitute, husband, fruit vendor, and little girl) go about their daily routines before their lives are changed forever. Demonstrated by the tableaus (like live freeze frames) in front of a blank canvas, these five characters thus become main objects and images in Picasso’s future artwork.
Director Jon Lachlan Stewart executes a fabulously coordinated and seemingly immaculate play by incorporating superb lighting cues, smooth transitions, and believable interactions. The magical experience made possible partially by the meticulous lighting techniques (whether it be the complete darkness and a flashlight being the only source of light or the specifically placed lighting on a certain character) can be an unquestionably notable part of the production. As for the play itself, none of this could have been established without the remarkable writing talents of Erika Luckert, who transformed her idea into an outstanding “underdog” play at the 2011 Fringe. The actors also flawlessly performed each of their roles with uncompromising ease by developing each character and embodying them as a whole (expressing individualistic emotions and movements). Their exceptional performances enhanced the experience momentously.
The dark (literally and metaphorically) beginning of Guernica transforms into a live portrait of the stunning developments of Picasso’s legendary art piece as well as the History of Art itself. I’m sure Picasso himself, being a lover of the “arts,” would appreciate this play and the magnificent interpretation of his creation.
Guernica – Written by: Erika Luckert and directed by: Jon Lachlan Stewart. Starring: Alyson Dicey, Lauren Kneteman, Joelle Prefontaine, Mat Simpson, Nikolai Witschl, and Zvonimir Rac.