By Joan Alperin Schwartz
Mark Rothko is one of my favorite artists. Years ago, I took my husband to one of his exhibits. After driving in bumper to bumper traffic, for over an hour, we finally reached our destination.
Needless to say my other half (who shall remain nameless) was more than a little grumpy from the car ride and the last place he wanted to be, was in a museum. On top of that, he was unfamiliar with Rothko's works.
Once inside, my husband quickly glanced at Rothko's large canvases covered in color and loudly proclaimed, 'You got to be kidding...This is what we drove almost two hours to see?....Any idiot could throw paint on a canvas and call it art'
Fighting the urge to call my husband, a 'moron', I simply sighed deeply, walked away and within seconds, was immersed inside the mind and soul of this amazing artist.
What I didn't know at the time was that, a very gracious lady, who happened to be an art teacher, overheard our conversation and took it upon herself to give my husband a quick, but highly effective lesson in the genius of Mark Rothko...And to my husband's credit, he 'got it'...and informed our friends, that they must not miss this exhibit.
This brings us to the award winning play 'Red' written by John Logan. 'Red', which focuses on a particular time in Mark Rothko's life, premiered in London, before going on to Broadway where it won 6 Tonys. Last year, The Mark Taper mounted a production as well..
The brilliant, Alfred Molino played Rothko in all three productions and it's common knowledge, that he was absolutely sensational in the part.
'Red' now playing at The International City Theatre in Long Beach, doesn't have Molina, but it does have Tony Abatemarco and he is quite good as the demon ridden, abstract expressionist.
The play is set in the 1950's when Rothko was commissioned to paint several large murals, that were to hang in The Four Seasons, a luxury New York City restaurant.
To help him stretch canvases and mix paint, Rothko hires a young assistant, Ken (Patrick Stafford) who winds up challenging the master. Their intense and at times, uncomfortable confrontations, eventually leads Rothko to face some very painful truths about who he is as an artist.
But that's not all 'Red' is about...It's a play about teachers and students, mentors and proteges and most importantly, it's about an artist and his creations...
But 'Red' is not just for art lovers, but for anyone who loves good theatre, good acting and a really good story.
'Red' like Rothko's work, is intensely emotional and will make you question, not only how you see the color red, but how you see, in general.
The play was directed and produced by Caryn Desai.
'Red' opened Friday, August 23rd and runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.through September 15th.
Tickets are $36.00 Thursdays, and $45.00 Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 East Ocean Blvd in Long Beach, CA 90802.
For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or .www.InternationalCityTheatre.com