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Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays Paperback – August 7, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ever wonder what it would have been like if wild and crazy Steve Martin had written an episode of "The Twilight Zone"? Well, wonder no more. The zany actor/comedian made playwright rookie of the year with this, the script of his first comedy, set in a bar in 1904 Paris. Two of the regulars, twentysomethings Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, argue about the art of physics and the physics of art as they try to impress and bed a pretty girl. And then the space/time/culture continuum ruptures, and they're joined by a figure from the future who seems to be . . . Elvis Presley! Read for yourself why the show's been done Off-Broadway and at regionals around the country. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Actor-comedian Martin is also an accomplished writer of screenplays, short stories, and now stage plays. The present work is his first full-length play and has enjoyed commercial success in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It depicts an imaginary meeting of Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in 1904 Paris, exploring the impact of art and science on our rapidly changing society. A surprise visit by Elvis adds some satiric commentary from a late-20th-century perspective. Among the other three short plays is Wasp, a stinging look at idealized 1950s suburban life. Though not essential, this is recommended for modern drama collections in larger public and academic libraries.?Howard E. Miller, M.L.S., St. Louis
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (August 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135230
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Martin, one of the most diversified performers in the motion picture industry today--actor, comedian, author, playwright, producer, musician - has been successful as a writer of and performer in some of the most popular movies of recent film history.

In March of 2010, Martin, along with Alec Baldwin, co-hosted the 82nd Annual Academy Awards - his third time serving as host of the prestigious award show.

On January 31st, 2010, Steve Martin's banjo album, The Crow / New Songs For The Five-String Banjo, won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.

Christmas 2009 saw Martin share the screen with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in Universal's "It's Complicated." The comedy, directed by Nancy Meyers, tells the story of a divorced couple (Streep and Baldwin) who discover that their feelings for one another might not have completely disappeared. Martin plays Adam, the soft-spoken and sweet architect who also vies for Street's characters' affection.

In 2008, Martin had two books published: In October, Doubleday released a children's book titled The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z!, co-written with fellow The New Yorker illustrator Roz Chast. In December, Martin's autobiography, Born Standing Up, was published by Scribner.

Additionally, in December of 2007, Martin was the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor.

In February 2006, Martin was seen in "The Pink Panther" playing the role of Inspector Clouseau, originally made famous by Peter Sellers. The film, which reunites Martin with director Shawn Levy, costarred Beyonce Knowles and Kevin Kline. In 2009, Mr. Martin will revived his role of Inspector Clouseau in "The Pink Panther 2."

In 2005, Martin received critical praise for the Touchstone Pictures film "Shopgirl," costarring Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. The screenplay was written by Martin and adapted from his best-selling novella of the same name. "Shopgirl" follows the complexities of a romance between a young girl, who works at a Los Angeles Saks Fifth Avenue glove counter while nurturing dreams of being an artist, and a wealthy older man, who is still learning about the consequences that come with any romantic relationship.

Christmas 2003, Martin starred in the highest grossing film of his career, "Cheaper by the Dozen," directed by Shawn Levy for 20th Century Fox. The family comedy, co-starring Bonnie Hunt and Hillary Duff, has grossed over $135 million domestically. Christmas 2005 saw the much anticipated sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" staring the original cast and adding in a rival family, headed by Eugene Levy. In February of 2003, Martin starred with Queen Latifah in the blockbuster comedy, "Bringing Down the House" for Touchstone Pictures which gross $132.7 million.

Mr. Martin hosted the 75th Annual Academy Awards in 2003, his second time handling those duties, the first being the 73rd Oscars. The 75th Annual Academy Awards was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, including a nomination for "Outstanding Individual Performance In a Variety or Music Program".

Born in Waco, Texas and raised in Southern California, Mr. Martin became a television writer in the late 1960's, winning an Emmy Award for his work on the hit series "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." By the end of the decade he was performing his own material in clubs and on television.

Launched by frequent appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," Mr. Martin went on to host several shows in the innovative "Saturday Night Live" series and to star in and co-write four highly rated television specials. When performing on national concert tours, he drew standing-room-only audiences in some of the largest venues in the country. He won Grammy Awards for his two comedy albums, "Let's Get Small" and "A Wild and Crazy Guy," and had a gold record with his single "King Tut." In 2003, Martin also won a Grammy® Award for Best country instrumentalist for his playing on Earl Scruggs 75th Anniversary album.

Mr. Martin's first film project, "The Absent-Minded Waiter," a short he wrote and starred in, was nominated for a 1977 Academy Award. In 1979, he moved into feature films, co-writing and starring in "The Jerk," directed by Carl Reiner. In 1981, he starred opposite Bernadette Peters in Herbert Ross' bittersweet musical comedy, "Pennies From Heaven."

The actor then co-wrote and starred in the 1982 send-up of detective thrillers, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" and the science fiction comedy "The Man With Two Brains," both directed by Carl Reiner. In 1984, Mr. Martin received a Best Actor Award from both the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Lily Tomlin in "All of Me," his forth collaboration with writer/director Carl Reiner.

In 1987, his motion picture hit, "Roxanne," a modern adaptation of the Cyrano de Bergerac legend, garnered Martin not only warm audience response, but also a Best Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Best Screenplay Award from the Writer Guild of America. Mr. Martin was also the executive producer on the film.

In 1988, he costarred with Michael Caine in the hit comedy film "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," his second feature collaboration with director Frank Oz (the first being "Little Shop of Horrors"). In 1989, he starred with Mary Steenburgen and Diane Wiest in Ron Howard's affectionate family comedy, "Parenthood" for Universal Pictures.

In 1991, Mr. Martin wrote, starred in and co-executive produced the critically acclaimed comedy, "L.A. Story," a motion picture about a love story set in Los Angeles. That same year he made a cameo appearance in Lawrence Kasdan's critically lauded "Grand Canyon" and starred with Diane Keaton in the hit Disney film "Father Of The Bride," receiving the People's Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture for the latter. In 1992, he starred in the Universal comedy feature "Housesitter," opposite Goldie Hawn, winning the People's Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy, for the second year in a row.

In 1996, he starred again with Diane Keaton in the hit sequel to "Father of the Bride," and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 1997, he received universal critical acclaim for his riveting performance in director David Mamet's thriller, "The Spanish Prisoner."

Mr. Martin wrote and starred in the hilarious 1999 feature comedy, "Bowfinger," opposite Eddie Murphy for Director Frank Oz. The film was showcased at the Deauville International Film Festival.

Mr. Martin's other films include classic comedies like Frank Oz's "Little Shop of Horrors," in which he played a demented dentist; John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," co-starring John Candy and the comic Western send-up "The Three Amigos" co-staring Marin Short and Chevy .

In the fall of 1993, Mr. Martin's first original play, the comedy-drama "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," was presented by Chicago's prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre. Following rave reviews and an extended run in Chicago, the play was presented successfully in Boston and Los Angeles, and then Off-Broadway in New York at the Promenade Theatre, to nationwide critical and audience acclaim. It has since been, and continues to be, mounted in productions worldwide. "WASP" a one act play that Martin wrote, was first performed at the Public Theatre in NY in 1995. "The Underpants," a dark comedy Mr. Martin adapted from the 1911 play by Carl Sterneim, premiered Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company on April 4, 2002.

In 1996, Mr. Martin was honored with a retrospective of his work, by the American Film Institute's Third Decade Council at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. He was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony. In 2004 Martin was honored for his film work by the American Cinematheque.

A selection of paintings from his extensive, private, modern art collection was given a special exhibition at the Bellagio Hotel gallery in Las Vegas in 2000, with catalog notes written for the show my Mr. Martin.

After the success of his first novella Shopgirl Mr. Martin's second novella, "The Pleasure of My Company," published by Hyperion, once again was ranked on best seller lists around the country including the New York Times. He has written a best selling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and his work frequently appears in The New Yorker and the New York Times.

He lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a wonderful play, with a great deal of tongue-in-cheek humor, dry wit, and intelligent riddles. In this play, Martin has set out a very amusing treatise on some very important aspects of the 20th century, especially regarding art and science.
There are, however, three other plays in this collection. Two of them, Zig-Zag Woman and Patter for a Floating Lady, can hardly be called plays. They're not even one-acts. They have the appearance of just being filler that Martin wrote to pass the time. Wasp, the fourth play in the collection, has many high points, including an hilarious monologue the father delivers to the son. It contains enough dark humor and sarcasm to make it a good read.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile alone is worth buying this collection, but don't expect the other plays to live up to Picasso's status. It is, though, a good collection for anyone interested in this type of humor or drama.
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Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" is a well- constructed and amusing read. Seeing it performed is ideal, but reading it is also rewarding. The use of subtle humor and irony by Martin provides the reader with a quick and enjoyable read. With all of the recent talk about the entrance into the 21st century, the play's references to the turning of the 20th are especially funny. I recommend this play highly to anyone.
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Steve Martin has always been a "serious" writer, in that he is interested in using humor to make people think and to highlight ideas in new ways. "Picasso at the LapinAgile" is a delightful piece of theatrical slight of hand wherein he creates the meeting of the century that never happened between the most influential scientest and the most influential artist and, after a wonderful setup, does a quantum leap into the absurd. It's fun to read and on stage (I saw the production at Ford's Theater in D.C.) it is fantastic.
Recently on a trip to Paris I climed Montmarte Butte to find the site of the Lapin Agile, the bistro in which Martin's play is set. It is still there and still in business, but alas, never saw nor will see a coming together of intelligence, talent and ego such as that envisioned by Steve Martin in this play.This is very smart comedy but funny enough in other ways to work for most audiences. I highly recommend it.
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For anyone looking to direct a wonderful, challenging one act play, try this collection! I directed WASP (which is full of fantastic monologues, just right for auditions for both men and women) and have been constantly thinking of new ways in which it could be interpreted. There is a lot of room for a director to innovate within the text.
The other plays in this collection -- I have read them happily, thinking of their surprisingly poignant possibilities.
I highly recommend this collection to anyone who is ready for a fun, compelling artistic challenge!
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Picasso and Einstein meet for coffee. I saw this produced at Cambridge's American Repertory Theater and returned twice in order to get my fill. To date, this is Martin at his finest. His theme, the dependant and invisible relationship between the seemingly disparate worlds of art and mathematical science, is deftly explored with the whimsy of his previously published short stories. Please, do not be swayed by previous reviewers who are thrown by effects based on simple theatrical devices such as asides or sotto voces. These forays into the audience (to me) represented the Theory of Relativity's elastic concept of time and space as applied to the artistic presentation of story. Without having to bow to the box-office-numbers God of film, Martin is free to run with his wonderful intellect. I suggest you come along for the ride.
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By A Customer on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Not only is "Picasso" a hilarious romp into Steve Martin's genius imagination, the play also tackles the "Big Issues" that make our culture tick. While discussing Art (capital "A") and Existence (capital "E"), the characters also hum with humanity and integrity. Leave it to Martin to bring Einstein to the masses.
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I think in reality this probably deserves 4 stars, but I love "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" too much to rate it anything below 5. It's a great read and a lot of fun to act. It's funny on so many levels - everything from wacky and silly to crude to smart to dry humor down to the very subtle (like having an "e-shaped pie."... it's a math joke (pi)). The ideas in it are great, and I especially enjoyed comparing science to art. It's as much fun to think about intellectually as it is to see the different characters bounce off of each other. It's the kind of play that reaches everyone differently - especially through the various types of humor.

The other plays are so-so, some better than others. I like them for their read, but it's harder to see them as plays - perhaps I'm wrong. I liked Floating Lady because of the emotions and intensity I imagined as I performed it in my head. I liked Zig-Zag Woman because it was kind of cute, but I think I expected too much of the ending as I read it, so was a little disappointed. WASP was also somewhat interesting to read and draw ideas from, but as a play in and of itself I didn't enjoy it very much.

Hope that helps. In the end, just buy it for "Picasso..."
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