There was a great piece in the New York Times by Roberta Smith about the new one-act play ‘Red’. The piece talked about how Smith’s lifetime as an art critic generally makes her cringe when hearing of artist or art biopics or otherwise films or theatre performances about art. Certainly there is more glamour than real life in the movies, but then again, what else do we expect? Its entertainment…and frankly, watching someone paint for 2.5 hours won’t keep me on the edge of my seat (though I did love Ed Harris in Pollock).
(Mark Rothko – Untitled, 1969 – Not on View, Museum of Modern Art, NYC)
Anyhoo – I digress. The reason I am bringing this up is because Rothko has long been a favorite of mine – the vibrating colors, textures and engulfing sense I get while standing in front of his paintings is truly an all encompassing experience. Honestly, there are few things I want invading my time with a Rothko, and one of them is dialogue. Sorry Alfred Molina (He plays Mark Rothko in ‘Red’), you know I got love, but I don’t want people walking in front of the painting, I don’t want people talking by the painting, I don’t want anything to be happening around the painting but me – standing there – experiencing it.
Don’t get me wrong now – this play might be an amazing 90minutes of life changing art convergence. Ill be in NYC this summer conducting some interviews, so perhaps Ill snag a ticket and test it out…and the concept is intriguing: a private viewing of the artists studio and his relationship with his work.
I have a feeling that I will feel similarly to Smith as she says in the article, “while some of the repartee in “Red” was fun to listen to — and fun to hear a large non-art-world audience listen to — the studio, not the play, was the thing for me. “Red” righted itself for me whenever the actors stopped talking and turned to the business of moving the big (surprisingly convincing) “Rothkos” around, preparing stretchers and canvases, mixing colors. That’s when Mark Rothko seemed closest at hand and the magic of theater most amazing.”
I just can’t help but feel like all I really would want to do at this play is grab a lawn chair and a martini and sit myself on that stage and stare at the paintings for 90minutes in private-viewing glory. In the words of Rothko himself: silence is so accurate.
Indeed Mark. Indeed.