Pablo Picasso wrote a play once. It was wacky and abstract and made up of bizarre conceptual characters like “Fat Anxiety,” “Round Piece” and “Curtains.” In spite of Gertrude Stein’s keen advice– that he should abandon his ill-informed dramaturgic whims and stick to painting– Picasso organized an underground production of the incomprehensible one-act as gesture of rebellion in the midst of Nazi-occupied France.
Under the cover of darkness, and with the threat of a Nazi raid lingering in the air, Picasso’s terminally goofy play, Desire Caught by the Tail, was performed in the living room of surrealist Michel Leiris. The cast was comprised of 1944 Paris’ most serious intellectual heavyweights: Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir. Picasso himself, along with his mistress Dora Maar (sporting Chiquita Banana headpiece for her role as “The Tart,” above), rounded out the cast.
What must that strange evening have been like? In the brand new play Leiris/Picasso, we’re given a hilarious picture of how the night’s festivities might have unfolded. Egos clash, Nazis are hit on the head with toilet plungers, delectable miscommunication abounds, and the title of Picasso’s play’s proves prescient for polyamorous pair Sartre and de Beauvoir– along with everyone else. If all that sounds crazy to you, it is. Don’t pass up a chance to check out the farce and the madness of Leiris/Picasso at the Bootleg Theater, where it’s playing through July 24th!