"Confessions of an Art School Model" adds nothing theatrical to the experience of watching an art school model.
By FRANK VIGORITO
Using a quote by Pablo Picasso, "Confessions of An Art School Model" bills itself as "a meditation between the artist, the model and the audience." Playwright, model and star of this virtually one-woman show, Talia Pura, delivers a twenty-minute confessional and forty minutes of mind-numbing chit chat that entirely lacks theatricality, leaving the audience meditating mostly on the exit.
"Confessions" (like last year's "Studio," which covered very similar ground with much more theatrical imagination) is set up as a very real art-studio moment complete with geeky guy artist and easel and naked woman on stool. Rather than use the interesting physical setup (not every day do I find myself in a figure-drawing class) as a springboard for theater, Ms. Pura simply talks while doing her poses for the next sixty minutes. There are brief moments of art slides on an overhead slide projector, and a few expository remarks to the artist ("Do you want to take a break now?"), but otherwise it's just her sitting there naked and him drawing her.
The text sounds like what someone who's been a professional art-school model for twenty-plus years would say if they were allowed to speak during the sessions: Pura talks about the difficulty of holding poses, her body and other body types, what amateur artists do wrong, what some other art-school models do wrong, etc. In fact, she seems to have nothing to offer except for thoughts and commentary specific to being an art-school model; her commentary in the first forty minutes is entirely one-dimensional. Her asides on art history (Rubens liked fatter women, the Venice Biennale is prestigious) as well attempts at audience participation come across less like theater and more like kindergarten.|
When she finally gets to the real story, probably the story that inspired the whole play, it's about her one and only true love, their love child, and their tragic ending. Finally her presence on stage becomes worth listening to, offering up something truly confessional, something real. Like the famous "Memory" in the ill-admired "Cats," though, it's too little too late.
A standout critique Pura makes of "first-year" art students is their lack of interpretation. She says they are strictly representational and essentially photocopiers of what they see. Unfortunately for her, as a foray into drama, "Confessions of an Art School Model" suffers from very much the same problem; there is no theater, simply a drawn-out monologue with the visual flair of a passport photo.
|AUGUST 16, 2002|
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