Saturday, August 9th, 2014

A FASCINATING insight into the wives and lovers of Pablo Picasso will emerge from the canvas this August as eight women share stories about their lives with the great artist.

Written by Brian McAvera and presented by Blak Yak Theatre [correct: no C in Blak] at Chrissie Parrott Arts, Picasso’s Women is a collection of eight honest, brutal, erotic and humorous monologues that pull no punches.

The 2000 play allows the women to give their point of view and uncover their buried histories while relating their lives to Picasso’s art.

With nine actresses playing the different wives, lovers and muses, revealing how they were used and abused, each monologue also has its own director (two actresses play the same character in one monologue).

Blak Yak Theatre president Melissa Merchant – and director of the monologue featuring Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque – said she fell in love with Picasso’s Women 10 years ago while researching a university Honours project.

“The passion of the women and lyricism of the writing presented a challenge for both director and performer,” she said.

“When Blak Yak Theatre was looking for a play to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Picasso’s Women seemed perfect.

“It has allowed us to bring back some of our earliest directors and to bring in new people to see the theatre move forward.”

Given the monologues are based on real people, Merchant said the challenge is to honour their stories while still entertaining the audience.

“Picasso’s mistresses, wives and muses were all fascinating, engaging and accomplished women who each have a tale to tell,” she said.

“There are also challenges in trying to coordinate all the different directors and performers – it’s a bit like herding cats at times.”

Blak Yak Theatre founding member Jarrod Buttery is directing the monologue featuring Francoise Gilot, a 21-year-old who began a relationship with Picasso when he was 63.

“There’s the knowledge that these women were real people – historical figures – and that much of the play is based on fact,” he said.

“Not only did these women share their lives with one of the world's most famous artists but they lived through some of the most tumultuous times of the 20th century.

“From a directorial point of view, it's both interesting and challenging to work one-on-one with an actress to bring it to life.”

Rob Whitehead has taken on challenge of directing the monologue featuring Fernande Olivier, Picasso's first real love and muse, who was with him just before he became famous.

“People think they know about Picasso but not a lot is widely known about the women in his life, even though they inspired him to some of his greatest work,” he said. “It's time they had their say.”

Merchant says Picasso’s Women is being split over two nights with four of the monologues each night.

“The Harlequin section looks at Picasso’s early life while Minotaur explores his later years,” she said.

“Each evening can be enjoyed on its own or audiences are welcome to see both at a discounted rate.”

Picasso’s Women plays at 7.30pm August 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 and 30. Tickets are $25, $22 concession and $40 for a double ticket (covering the eight monologues over two nights) – book through

Chrissie Parrott Arts is at 4 Sussex Street, Maylands.



PW-1: Nisha Rivett, left, is Fernande Olivier and Jacinta Tavelli-Williams is Eva Gouel in Picasso’s Women this August. Picture: Michael McAllan.

PW-2: Breeahn Jones, left, Nadia Collins and Sherryl Spencer are the playing different wives, lovers and muses of Pablo Picasso in Picasso’s Women. Picture: Michael McAllan.

PW-3: Olga (Chandra Wyatt, left) and Gaby (Rose McKenna) are exploring what it’s like to be one of Picasso’s Women. Picture: Michael McAllan.

PW-4: Sharnya Thomson, left, and Nadia Collins are both playing Dora Maar, who appeared in many Picasso paintings, including The Weeping Woman. Picture: Michael McAllan.

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Blak Yak Theatre

Blak Yak is a not-for-profit community theatre group. Established in 1993, we have been committed to producing high quality theatre. Our productions have been taken from such diverse sources as William Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, Terry Pratchett and even television sitcoms.

We’ve always been an advocate for the underdog, and were originally founded to give first time writers and directors a chance to stage their shows.

We still have that nurturing attitude, and we’re always looking for people, which means that Blak Yak is a great first step into theatre for performers, directors and technicians.

Blak Yak does not have a home. We are one of the few nomadic clubs in the Perth metro area. From Wanneroo to Kwinana and from Fremantle to Kalamunda, we have taken our unique and award-winning brand of theatre all over Perth.

Melissa Merchant
M: 0403 293 969


Picasso painter artist play theatre stage performance monologue WA Perth Western Australia Chrissie Parrott Arts monologue Blak Yak Picasso's Women




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