Orlando Shakes will be opening Christopher Durang’s newest play, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Vanya) this April. The Tony Award-winning comedy is a humorous adaptation of themes found in Anton Chekhov’s work. While you don’t need to have read Chekhov to enjoy the production, a little familiarity with the legendary Russian playwright will add to the fun.
Anton Chekhov was born in Russia in 1860. His young life was anything but pleasant. His physically abusive father was declared bankrupt in 1876, but despite the family living in poverty, Chekhov managed to pay his way through school and gain admittance to the First Moscow State Medical University. Working as a medical doctor paid some of the family’s bills, but not enough, so Chekhov looked to writing as a supplement to his income. Sometimes writing under pseudonyms such as “Man without a Spleen,” Chekhov’s satirical writing style gained both popularity and criticism—the latter of which motivated the writer to pursue more artistically ambitious projects. (more…)
“Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” asked Teri Horton when an art teacher suggested her $5 thrift store find might be a priceless masterpiece. That question later became the title for the documentary that followed her quest to prove she’d discovered a long lost Pollock painting.
Stephen Sachs’ colorful new comic drama Bakersfield Mist (playing at Orlando Shakes from Oct. 14 – Nov. 15, 2015) introduces a set of lively fictional characters in an almost identical situation.
But back to Horton’s original question, who is Jackson Pollock? An American artist known for revolutionizing the abstract expressionist movement, Pollock developed a new method known as the “drip technique.” The style involved using household paint (as opposed to artist’s paint) and literally dripping and pouring it onto the canvas. His other tools included hardened brushes, sticks, basting syringes, and even his own hands. This technique marked the “drip period” (from 1947 to 1950) when the majority of his most famous works were created. Pollock prided himself in getting up close and personal with his artwork, and often spoke as if he were “in” his paintings.
“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting,” said Jackson Pollock, in his publication My Painting.
Despite his artistic fame and success, Pollock’s life was not picture perfect. He struggled with mental illness and modern historians theorize he may have been bipolar. He also suffered from alcoholism throughout his adult life. In 1956, Pollock caused the fatal car accident that killed him and one other passenger, although his mistress who was also in the car survived. Pollock was only 44. His wife, an artist named Lee Krasner, kept his legacy alive by opening their home, the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, for public tours.
Wondering what happened to Ms. Horton and her painting? To this day she has been unable to prove that it is a true Pollock, yet she refuses to sell her piece for less than $50 million. Inspired in part by Horton’s story, Bakersfield Mist begs the important question: Who gets to define what “art” is?
Tickets to Bakersfield Mist are available online or by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1.
Article Contributors: Lexie Hoag and Melissa Landy