MA JOLIE written and directed by Alan Dilworth, with Maev Beaty, Yashoda Ranganathan, Patrick Robinson and Michael Rubenfeld. Presented by Belltower Theatre at Factory Mainspace. August 2 at 8:30 pm, August 3 at 11 pm, August 4 at 5:30 pm, August 6 at 10 pm, August 10 at 9:30 pm, August 11 at 4 pm. Rating: NNNNN
The SummerWorks folks sure were surprised when Belltower Theatre's application showed up. What must have drawn their attention was the envelope, covered with a copy of Picasso's painting Les Demoiselles D'Avignon. The artist figures large in Ma Jolie, writer/director Alan Dilworth's music, dance and text piece that looks at the young Picasso and his friends, poets Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob.
There's a touch of magic realism, too. Remember the Greek myth about the statue coming to life in the hands of an artist? In Dilworth's version, Picasso's animated statue inspires him to cubist art.
The script might seem to echo Steve Martin's Picasso At The Lapin Agile, but Dilworth moves in another direction. For one thing, the real-life Jacob becomes a woman. For another, the author works in a moralistic Aesop fable to leaven the comedy.
"I knew there was a story I wanted to tell about the relationship among these talented, ambitious people," notes Dilworth, a Soulpepper Training Company grad who's one-third of Belltower. "What sacrifices did they have to make at the start of their careers, especially when they had to choose between friendship and artistic genius?"
With a bevy of real-life figures, Dilworth had lots of material to draw on, including Picasso's purchase of statues stolen from the Louvre.
"Picasso took what was happening in his life and injected it into his work. It's always a difficult balancing act, to be true to what's important in your life and what's important in your art."