Saint Martin’s joins in world premiere of “THE ART PROJECT”

April 8, 2005

Lacey, Wash. – The Saint Martin’s College Department of Theatre Arts is one of three Washington theater groups staging a world premiere of “The Art Project”, a theatrical interpretation of visual art that has brought together the talents of award-winning playwrights from the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy.

The Saint Martin’s production, "Reaching Through The Frame: 10 New Plays Based on Paintings by Picasso, van Gogh, Dali and others" will run from April 13-16 at the State Theater, 204 4th Ave. E., in downtown Olympia. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. each night, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, April 16. Tickets are available at the door for $10, or $6 for students and seniors. The Thursday, April 14 performance will be pay-what-you-will, with the proceeds going toward theater arts scholarships at Saint Martin’s College. There will also be a silent auction preceding every performance to benefit local organizations.

Saint Martin’s production will feature plays inspired by such paintings as "The Three Graces," by Raphael, "Crows over Wheatfield," by Vincent van Gogh, "The Old Guitarist," by Pablo Picasso, “Arrangement in Gray and Black: The Artist’s Mother,” by James Whistler, and “Swans Reflecting Elephants” by Salvador Dali. Co-directors are David Hlavsa, chair of the college’s department of theatre arts, and John Ficker, who has worked with many local theater companies and serves on the City of Olympia’s Arts Commission.

Hlavsa said he was drawn to the project because of the powerful connection between artist and viewer.

“One of the best things about visiting an art museum is seeing a painting you’ve only seen in pictures, and all of a sudden you say, ‘Oh, I get it.’ At once, the size of the canvas, the thickness of the paint, the play of light in the room as it interacts with the colors of the painting – all of these add life, dimension, to the experience. You feel connected to the artist, seeing through the eyes of the artist for a brief, intuitive moment.”

A Puget Sound-wide festival, The Art Project is coordinated by play curators Bryan Willis and Elena Hartwell, who spent more than a year reading through more than 100 original scripts inspired by celebrated works of art. Willis and Hartwell sent a selection of the scripts on to artistic directors at Saint Martin’s College, Tacoma Little Theatre and Theatre Puget Sound, who, in turn, chose a group of scripts for their individual festivals. Hartwell said each organization has its own set of directors, actors and venue, so each group’s production of The Art Project will be unique.

Prints of artwork featured in the show will be up for bid at the silent auction, starting at 7 p.m. and lasting through intermission. Winners will be announced before the second act. The auction before the April 16 matinee will start at 1:30 p.m.

Auction proceeds will benefit:

  • Harlequin Productions, April 13.
  • Saint Martin’s College Department of Theatre Arts, April 14.
  • TCTV, April 15.
  • Procession of the Species, 2 p.m., April 16.
  • City of Olympia Arts Commission/ Department of Parks, Arts & Recreation, 7:30 pm, April 16.

For more information, please call the College’s Department of Theatre Arts, 360-438-4345.

David Hlavsa, Associate professor, theatre arts

Deanna Partlow, Media coordinator