Picasso's Artful Occupation
RedNeedle Productions presents Picasso’s Artful Occupation
Written & produced by Ian Buckley
Directed by Kenneth Michaels
Set design by Cleo Harris-Seaton
Picasso - Gary Heron
Frisch - Roberto Landi
Hebbel - David O’Connor
Picasso's Artful Occupation was presented at the Barons Court Theatre March 2014.
In a gloomy vault of a Paris bank in September 1940, Picasso has been summoned by the German occupation authorities. His precious works of art are to be inventoried.
But for what reason?
To the new German order Picasso is an artist of the 'bolshevik-degenerate' variety. Is this summons a prelude to the art equivalent of the burning of books? An art Kristallnacht just for Pablo - the most famous artist alive?
A desperate, surreal, sometimes comic battle of wits and wills ensues. If Picasso loses, the consequences could be dire, both for him personally and for his work.
‘Grasping Nazis think they hold the power - but who really pulls the strings?’
HOW THIS PLAY CAME ABOUT
I was brought up in a communist family, and the fact that Picasso joined the French Communist party six weeks after the end of the Second World War, and remained in it for the rest of his life, gave me a particular interest in this most wonderful and iconoclastic of artists.
It was a short step from there to wondering how he lived his life under the Nazi occupation. For five long years, 1940 to 1945, he lived and worked in Paris, forbidden to exhibit his bolshevik-degenerate art to the public.
How did he, the best-known artist alive, deal with a capricious and all-powerful German regime? What choices did he make? Was he protected by sympathetic members of the occupying regime or did he survive by luck, cunning and discretion?
In my play set in the shady vaults of a Paris bank where Picasso has been summoned for the grand inventory of his works, I hope I’m able to give some ‘answers’ to these questions.
The play is based on an actual historical event.