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Season 6: awake Currier Museum of Art

Past Readings

Time Stands Still by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies.
September 29, 2013, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the Currier’s special exhibition, Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War.
Sarah and James – a photographer and a journalist – share a passion for the adrenaline rush caused from reporting in the world’s deadliest war zones. As reporters, their lives are devoted to telling the toughest stories from across the globe. But how do you separate yourself from the action you witness? How do you create an impartial lens? When their own story takes a sudden turn during a bomb blast in Iraq, the wounded Sarah returns home with James to the safety of New York. Can they settle into a more “conventional” life and leave behind the drama and chaos of war?

The American Dream by Pulitzer Prize and MacDowell Award recipient Edward Albee. 
January 12, 2014, 2 pm
at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the Currier’s special exhibition, Signs from the Sixties: Robert Indiana's Decade. Robert Indiana cites that seeing the original production of Albee’s play was a major inspiration his work of the same name.
Mommy and Daddy sit in a barren living room making small talk. Mommy, the domineering wife, is grappling with the thought of putting Grandma in a nursing home. Daddy, the long-suffering husband, could not care less. Mrs. Barker, the chairman of the women's club, arrives, not knowing why she is there. Is she there to take Grandma away? Apparently not. It all becomes evident when Grandma reveals to Mrs. Barker the story of the botched adoption of a "bumble of joy" twenty years ago by Mommy and Daddy. Mrs. Barker appears to have figured it out when Young Man enters. He's muscular, well-spoken, the answer to Mommy and Daddy's prayers: The American Dream.

Red by John Logan, winner of the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play.
March 9, 2014, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to Untitled (Red over Brown), 1967, by Mark Rothko, which is in the Currier’s permanent collection.
Master abstract expressionist Mark Rothko has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art, a series of murals for New York’s famed Four Seasons Restaurant. In the two fascinating years that follow, Rothko works feverishly with his young assistant, Ken, in his studio on the Bowery. But when Ken gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the agonizing possibility that his crowning achievement could also become his undoing. Raw and provocative, RED is a searing portrait of an artist's ambition and vulnerability as he tries to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.

Work Song by Jeffrey Hatcher and Eric Simonson
July 13, 2014, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House.
In this thrilling and imaginative play about the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, audiences get an in-depth look at the master builder at three distinct phases of his life and career: in Act One, as a young man in a hurry to change the way people live and finding inspiration in Mamah Cheney, a unconventional (married) woman who becomes the great love of his life and leads to his greatest tragedy; in Act Two, as a doubting genius at the crossroads, fending off creditors and reeling in clients before he salvages himself by coming up with one of his greatest creations, the house called "Fallingwater"; and in Act Three, as an old showman at twilight, visiting a house from his past and taking stock of his sacrifices and successes in his quest to build the perfect dwelling. WORK SONG is about Wright's ideas, his passions, his love affairs and his tragedies. It's a play about a man who wanted to create the perfect home for the American family but could never build one for himself.

Artist Descending a Staircase by Tom Stoppard. 
October 12, 2014, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the Currier’s special exhibition, M.C. Escher: Illusion and Reality.
In 1972 an elderly avant garde artist is murdered, leaving his two friends suspecting each other. To reveal why, successive scenes flashback toward the 1920s and then progress back to 1972. Each of the three was infatuated with Sophie. Before she tragically went blind she fell in love with one of them after viewing his picture in a gallery. Which artist Sophie loved has been a bone of contention all their lives. This full length play in one act was a radio play before it was staged to acclaim in London.

A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher. 
February 8, 2015, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to Woman Seated in a Chair, 1941, by Pablo Picasso.
Paris, 1941. Pablo Picasso has been summoned from his favorite café by German occupation forces to a storage vault across the city for an interrogation. His questioner: Miss Fischer, a beautiful "cultural attaché" from Berlin. Her assignment: discover which of the three Picasso paintings recently "confiscated" by the Nazis from their Jewish owners are real. The ministry of propaganda has planned an exhibit, and only the great artist himself can attest to their authenticity. At first Picasso agrees to her request, confirming that the three pictures are indeed his own. But when Miss Fischer reveals that the "exhibition" is actually a burning of "degenerate art," Picasso becomes desperate to save his work and engages in a pressurized negotiation with the equally determined and wily Miss Fischer to hold on to two of his precious "children" while consigning the third to the flames. A cat-and-mouse drama about art, politics, sex and truth, with a twist at its climax.

Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs
December 13, 2015, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Maude, a fifty-something unemployed bartender living in a trailer park, has bought a painting for a few bucks from a thrift store. Despite almost trashing it, she’s now convinced it’s a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock worth millions. But when world-class art expert Lionel Percy flies over from New York and arrives at her trailer home in Bakersfield to authenticate the painting, he has no idea what he is about to discover. Inspired by true events, this hilarious and thought-provoking new comedy-drama asks vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic.

Filming O'Keeffe by Eric Lane. 
March 13, 2016, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the Cross by the Sea, Canada, 1932, by Georgia O'Keeffe
This funny and moving play is set in Lake George, New York, in the present. Max and his mother, Melissa, live on the property that was once the home of artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Max and his classmate Lily are making a film about the legendary artists for a high school project. When Max's estranged grandfather unexpectedly arrives, the four characters clash, as the teenager uncovers his family's hidden past.

Occupant by Edward Albee
September 11, 2016, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to Dream Houses XXXIII, 1971, by Louise Nevelson
Unapologetically flamboyant, New York sculptor Louise Nevelson's life was one marked by intrepid artistic triumphs as well as deep inner turmoil. In Edward Albee's Occupant, both her public accomplishments and private emotional conflicts are thoroughly examined by an unnamed interviewer who questions the posthumous Nevelson with an unabashed scrutiny. From her unique vantage point beyond the grave, Nevelson answers his queries with a clarity born of the distance provided by death. The result is a touching, humorous, and honest tribute to a woman who was a pioneer for free-thinking females everywhere, but also stood strongly on her own as one of the 20th century's greatest artistic minds. Edward Albee's Occupant is a testament of will, internal strength, and the cryptic force that continues to drive great artists.

The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall 
January 8, 2017, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Heralded in London and on Broadway, this 2011 play by the Tony Award- winning writer of Billy Elliot is based on a triumphant true story. A group of miners in Northern England taking an art appreciation class start experimenting with painting and soon build an astonishing body of work that makes them the unlikeliest of art world sensations. An arresting and hilarious salute to the power of individual expression and the collective spirit, The Pitmen Painters is a deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.

Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph
April 9, 2017, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in relation to the special exhibition Deep Cuts: Contemporary Paper Cutting
Ilana, a world-renowned origami artist, is going through a divorce, her dog has run away, and she hasn’t answered her phone in two months. Then her intercom buzzes. It’s Andy, a fan, a high school teacher who counts his blessings. Literally — he’s up to 7,904. Andy introduces Suresh, an urban teen ipod addict and origami prodigy into Ilana’s life, and the plot folds really get complicated. A wise and richly layered comedy/drama from the author of Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo.

My Name is Asher Lev by Aaron Posner
November 12, 2017, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Based on the best-selling novel and set in post-war Brooklyn, My Name is Asher Lev follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hasidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents, young Asher realizes he must make difficult choices between his passion and his faith. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist at any cost—against the will of family, community and tradition.

Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies 
January 14, 2018, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Winner of the 1992 Obie Award. This is the story of an American mega-artist so successful he's had the obligatory profile in Vanity Fair and can claim astronomical prices for his works sight unseen from a waiting list of wealthy patrons. In England for a retrospective of his paintings, the artist goes into the countryside to visit his original muse and lover, the "sacrificial shiksa" whom he abandoned in his quest for the opulent life which now devours him.

Posterity by Doug Wright
April 8, 2018, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in conjunction with the special exhibition Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Norway’s most celebrated sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, is commissioned to create the last official bust of its most famous writer—the irascible, imperious, and inscrutable Henrik Ibsen. The two artists, each needing something from the other, wage war over both the creation of Ibsen’s likeness and the prospects of his legacy. With his inimitable wit and insight, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Doug Wright explores the nature of artistic success and the fear of being forgotten.

On the Ceiling by Nigel Planer
November 11, 2018, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in conjunction with the special exhibition Myth and Faith in Renaissance Florence
High up on the wooden scaffolding tower of the Sistine Chapel, two fresco plasterers get on with the day's work preparing the ceiling for their boss Michelangelo who has not bothered to turn up for work again. So who has to cover for him? Like any big project, it's the little guys, the professionals, the men who've been doing this kind of thing all their lives. As for gratitude, they'll be lucky if they even get paid! Pope Julius and Cardinal Alidosi visit the chapel to inspect the progress of their commission. They are never very impressed, and the Pope is more concerned about getting Michelangelo to do his funeral monument at a knock-down price.On the Ceiling is not about great artists; it is about those people whose names don't go down in history: the ones who do the essential drudge work, their frustration at their lack of genius and their pride in their own technical expertise. In this version of events, low elements combine to make high art.

The Bakelite Masterpiece by Kate Cayley 
January 13, 2019, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
The end of World War II. Holland is in chaos. Artist Han van Meegeren sits in a prison cell accused of selling a long-lost painting by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer to the Nazis, a crime tantamount to treason. Van Meegeren contends that the painting was a forgery, which he skillfully produced and aged with a special treatment of the plastic known as Bakelite. Now he must create another masterpiece in front of his jailer, art historian Geert Piller, to save his life. The Bakelite Masterpiece is a dynamic and compelling play that debates beauty, faith, memory and the reconstruction of a country.

The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek by Athol Fugard
April 14, 2019, 2 pm at the Currier Museum of Art
Read in conjunction with the special exhibition Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence
A touching portrayal of compassion passed down through two generations in a racially-torn continent, Athol Fugard's latest play centers around aging farm laborer Nukain, who has spent his life transforming the rocks at Revolver Creek into a vibrant garden of painted flowers. Now, the final unpainted rock, as well as his young companion Bokkie, has forced Nukain to confront his legacy as a painter, a person and a black man in 1980s South Africa. When the landowner’s wife arrives with demands about the painting, the profound rifts of a country hurtling toward the end of apartheid are laid bare. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek observes two differing experiences with racism, in the decades during and following apartheid, while ultimately illuminating the meaning of preserving the history of one's own past. Within the span of his illustrious and widely-lauded work as a playwright, Athol Fugard has shed light on the looming shadow of apartheid and its resulting dissolution of society and politics in South Africa. This contemplative new work follows that legacy, asking us not to forget its relevance in the modern day.

Hew Hampshire Humanities CouncilSeasons One and Two of the ARTiculate Playreading Series were supported by The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation and New Hampshire Humanities.

This season's readings