Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa – Preview

What happens when you reinvent art history? I sat down with the team behind ‘Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa’ to find out. I interviewed: Jamie Fenton (Writer), Rhiannon Shaw (Director), […]

Cambridge Corpus Playroom grapefuits pamplemousse Picasso Preview Tab Theatre

What happens when you reinvent art history?

I sat down with the team behind ‘Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa’ to find out. I interviewed: Jamie Fenton (Writer), Rhiannon Shaw (Director), with interjections by Rob Eyers (Actor) and Marthe de Ferrer (a total unknown)

Will: Jamie, what makes you want to put on original writing in Cambridge?

Jamie: When the ADC puts on plays that already exist it’s often a more commercial exercise, and for me it’s fun to do things that aren’t written to be blockbuster. I’m allowed to be slightly niche, and make the most of the unique character of Cambridge Theatre.

Intriguing. I wonder what happens in this plot...

Intriguing. I wonder what happens in this plot…

Will: Rhiannon, what attracted you to directing new student writing?

Rhiannon: I was interesting in doing something that hadn’t been done before. I’m a fresher and this is my ‘directorial debut’, so when he sent me the script I was really excited.

Will: Jamie, what sort of stuff have you done before in Cambridge?

Jamie: I started out as a technician actually, and got to know the ‘dirty underbelly’ of Cambridge theatre! I then started doing quite a bit of comedy with Will Dalrymple [also in Picasso], often musical comedy, and I eventually wrote this play for the Harry Porter Prize. So our tagline for the show is ‘emphatically not shortlisted for the Harry Porter Prize’.

Hopefully their puns won't be as Mona-inducing as mine.

Hopefully their puns won’t be as Mona-inducing as mine.

Will: So, from starting a new piece of writing to actually getting it on the stage, how much does it change? What is the process like?

Rhiannon: In the rehearsal process you work out what works and what doesn’t, what needs tweaking. Jamie: I was more than happy for it to be workshopped quite a lot, as I’d been working on it quite intensely for about a year and it was refreshing to have someone else come in. Many edits were simply correcting my poor writing, such as one character who entered twice in one scene. I mean that’s just poor writing.

Will: You have a pretty intriguing title – where did it come from?

Jamie: It’s one of the world’s working titles, which never gets changed. It’s just an incredibly obvious description of what occurs in the play. It does also sound a bit like a headline.

Will: Concerning the show itself, I’m assured there are a lot of watermelons involved. Any comment?

Rhiannon: Um, grapefruit actually. Jamie: Yes, you’ve been vastly misinformed. Marthe (from the background): Classic Tab… Jamie: Watermelons aren’t funny at all. Grapefruits, on the other hand, I basically included because the French word for grapefruit is really fun to say.

At this point the interview descended briefly into us all saying ‘pamplemousse’ over and over. I can attest that it is indeed really fun to say.

He looks guilty. Definitely stole the Mona Lisa.

He looks guilty. Definitely stole the Mona Lisa.

Will: Aside from ’pamplemousse’ is there much French in the play?

Rhiannon: Considering it’s set in Paris… not really. Jamie: The policemen tends to lapse into it when he gets stressed. Is that politically incorrect?

Will: Do you have a tagline for the show?

Rob: ‘You know anything about art? Well we don’t.’

Jamie: ‘Putting excitement back into Art History… By lying about it.’

Rob: Yes, this isn’t a tagline, but we are actually doing a play about art history with no understanding of history. Or art.

Sounds like ‘Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa’ will be a lot of fun, although the art historians might want to go in expecting some creative license with their degree.