Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
A Play by Pablo Picasso
A staged reading in celebration of Picasso's birthday
Save the date: Sunday, October 24
Location and ticketing information available soon
Produced in conjunction with Picasso in Pollock
Performed by Lightning Rod Special , directed by Scott Sheppard in cooperation with the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall, Josh Gladstone, Artistic Director
In the winter of 1941, soon after the Germans had occupied Paris, Picasso spent three days writing a play entitled "Le Désir attrapé par la queue," which translates literally to "Desire caught by the tail." It was first presented at a reading in the Paris apartment of Michel Leiris in 1944, shown in the Brassaï photo below. The parts were read by such local literati as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Valentine Hugo, Raymond Queneau and Picasso himself. Albert Camus directed.
Described as "surrealistic" and "simply weird," the play is rarely produced due to sheer incomprehensibility. In 1984 a production by the Eye and Ear Theater, directed by Taylor Mead, was presented at the John Drew Theater in conjunction with the Guild Hall exhibition, "Artists in the Theater." While the narrative is nonlinear and the meaning nearly impossible to decipher, the work has been praised despite (and sometimes for) its lack of message. According to legend, when Picasso showed it Gertrude Stein, she advised him to go back to painting.
This reading of "Desire Caught by the Tail" is made possible by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.