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-- 06 November, 2004 --

"Art" by Yasmina Reza

by Yasmina Reza
"If I am who I am because I am who I am and you are who you are because you are who you are then I am who I am and you are who you are, but if I am who I am because you are who you are and you are who you are because I am who I am then I am not who I am and you are not who you are."

This section of dialogue from the play that we saw, last night, at Syndney's Ensemble Theatre just about sums it up. It deals with the relationships between three friends and how they are effected by the purchase by one of them of an art work; a canvas with a white background with diagonal white strips. As usual, Sandra Bates, the Ensemble's artistic director and director of this producion as chosen a play that is provocative and thought provoking and with not a small amount of humour. The play is set in Paris and was originally written in French. This version was translated into English by Christopher Hampton to suit a UK audience but it sits very well in an Australian theatre.

It was 'at home' night at the Ensemble, which means that when the play finished the audience is invited to stay. The actors and director comeback onto the stage to respond to questions asked by the audience. I can never think of anything intelligent to say on these nights but it is interesting to see the actors in their real skin and to hear what they have to say about the text and their performances.

Posted by robynls at November 6, 2004 5:00 PM


Robyn, sounds like a fun night...getting to mingle with the actors etc sounds like fun. I've never understood a lot of the "modern art" people pass off for untold sums... seems like a big scam to me, but then, if the owner gets enjoyment from it, I guess that's all that counts. But some of it is so simplistic, that I would think the buyers would want to try doing a painting themselves like it, and saving a bundle...or maybe donating what they would have spent on the thing to a worthy charity.

Posted by: Bex at November 6, 2004 10:38 PM


Posted by: Sam Krupa at November 6, 2004 11:01 PM

It sounds to me as though you have seen this play, Bex, because you have described very well the attitudes of the two friends of the character who bought the painting. One was very hurt that his friend should be so influenced by the trends to be pursuaded to spend 20000 francs on what he regarded as an incomprehensible painting. The other friend felt that he should have it if it made hime happy. It is these tensions that the plot revolved around.

The first friend wanted to mould the art-lover into a person of his making, hence the 'you are who I am'. The second friend just allowed the art-lover to be who he was. Sam, that is the significance of the extract.

Posted by: Robyn [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 7, 2004 7:25 AM

I came here because I was intrigued by your entry in my "everyday matters" Digest (which I have rarely have time to read lately) only to find a fellow Aussie who has also posted photographs of local birds on the balcony (only today I updated my blog with a photo of a Grey Shrike-thrush that visited this morning) This little synchronicity has made me digress however, from saying that my wife and I love local theatre. The play sounds interesting and fun, and the quote from it is great. Reminds me of R. D. Laing's "Knots"

Posted by: Cameron at November 9, 2004 5:36 PM

We went to see Art by Yasmina Reza at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter, England, last night. We thought it was brilliant. This particular piece of dialogue was very profound! Unfortunately we could not remember it word for word so came looking on the internet and found it here! Thanks for solving my problem, I am about to share it with our friends!

Posted by: Alison at February 27, 2005 3:03 AM

Interesting arguments this play is continuing to provoke. As an artist, a painter, I have to say that I don't believe that we have to understand 'modern' art, or any other kind of art. That is the dry approach of the intellectual [and I spent many years working as, and with academics]. For me, understanding art is about communicating with the core, our core essence, communicating with other's core essence. For want of a better word so early in the morning, it's about soul, spirit. It's about being, living with and experinencing a painting, rather than simply looking, which is a shallow, one dimensional way of experiencing a painting. We have at least five senses [I believe we have more], so let's use them.

Posted by: Blue at May 23, 2005 6:52 PM