Art in a box
Playwright Mark Brownell 's intentionally boxed himself in for Pea Green Theatre 's latest, Medici Slot Machine - The Life And Times Of Joseph Cornell . "Cornell's the most famous non-famous artist around," smiles Brownell. "He's thought of as the father of pop art, since he started the interest in objets trouvés, found objects treated as works of art."
Cornell (1903-1972) is known for creating grid-like collage boxes of everyday objects, including the one that gives Brownell's play its title.
"His work pushes buttons in people and sets up a strange, intangible nostalgia through the juxtaposition of items he places in the boxes."
A look at Cornell's art and life, the play traces the history of a man who cared for an ill brother and dealt with the insults of a mother who never understood his creations. Ironically, though his art was based on boxes, he refused to be pigeonholed or classified as any one type of artist. Cornell called himself an American Constructivist.
"And though he pursues fame in the first act, in the second he's pursued by it. People like Garbo, Dali and Jackson Pollock were part of his world, though he preferred not to mix with them."
The stage is a giant Cornell box, courtesy of set designer Brenda Guldenstein , in which the characters stand in for the items (both bric-a-brac and objects of beauty) that Cornell contrasted in his creations.
"This is the most stylized piece that Pea Green's done," says the playwright, whose other work includes Monsieur D'Eon Is A Woman and Iron Road. "We usually create theatre with two boards and a light, stripped down and physical, but this time there are lots of visuals as well."
See Opening, page 76.
Tarragon's new shoot
Congrats to Camilla Holland , just appointed the general manager of the Tarragon Theatre . She succeeds Mallory Gilbert , who retires from the landmark theatre after working there for 34 years. Holland has lots of behind-the-scenes theatre experience, most recently as GM for Volcano and as an independent producer and consultant. She's also worked at Factory, the Toronto Arts Council and Young People's Theatre, and is chair of the Commercial Theatre Development Fund.