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"A Brush with Georgia O'Keefe" at St. Luke's Theatre
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"A Brush with Georgia O'Keefe" at St. Luke's Theatre

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Briana Seferian for Earl Productions
In Assoc. with Edmund Gaynes and Julia Beardsley Present:
(Earl Productions Website)
A Brush with Georgia O’Keefe
(Georgia O’Keefe Museum Website)
At
St. Luke’s Theatre
Operated by Edmund Gaynes
And West End Artists Company
308 West 46th Street
212.239.6200

By Natalie Mosco
Directed by Robert Kalfin

Featuring: Natalie Mosco
David Lloyd Walters, Virginia Roncetti

Scenic Design: Kevin Judge
Costume Design: Gail Cooper Hecht
Lighting Design: Paul Hudson
Projection Design: Marilys Ernst
Original Composition and Sound Design: Margaret Pine
Production Stage Manager: D.C. Rosenberg
Casting: Irene Stockton, C.S.A.
Press: Scotti Rhodes Publicity
General Management: Jessimeg Productions

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 28, 2008


Setting: The Places Georgia O’Keefe lived and worked, during her life 1887-1986.

Natalie Mosco has long been inspired by the life and work of Georgia O’Keefe, finding in O’Keefe a riveting character, whom Ms. Mosco researched for her dissertation and then brought to life in A Brush with Georgia O’Keefe. Ms. Mosco wrote this play and stars in it, as well, and, as Georgia O’Keefe lived a long life, to age 99, Ms. Mosco is onstage, as narrator and actor, throughout most of the evening. It’s well known that O’Keefe married her patron and friend, photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, who showcased her work on the walls of his New York studio. David Lloyd Walters plays Stieglitz, and he truly looks the part, with bristling grey hair and professorial posture. Virginia Roncetti plays Dorothy Norman, Stieglitz’ eventual mistress, plus several other women, and this tightly wound cast works it’s way on and off the intimate St. Luke’s Theatre stage with perfected timing and presence.

Marilys Ernst designed a projection system on a flower-line graphic that allows the audience to see photographs of place and time that set the drama, plus an assortment of O’Keefe’s realistic and more erotically charged flowers. We are transported from Wisconsin, to Chicago, to New York, to New Mexico and back and forth, with the help of aging mannerisms, inflections, and those critical projections. The relationship of O’Keefe and Stieglitz meticulously unfolds, through Ms. Mosco’s narrative, as she addresses the audience and her characters, swiftly shifting from the here to the there. Mr. Walters and Ms. Roncetti remain in character, except in one surprise moment in Act II. Ms. Mosco is a talented artist, who can write and enliven dialogue. Her most poignant moment, for this writer, was in an Act II confrontation with Stieglitz’ mistress, when O’Keefe stood alone in pride and ordered the woman from her home, after Stieglitz’ death. O’Keefe was now in charge of her own destiny, and Ms. Mosco’s physicality and emotions portrayed that life-altering moment.

Also fascinating were the numerous New York locations mentioned in this production, those that still exist, like the Art Students League, or those that we knew, like Doctors Hospital. Stieglitz’ 291 Fifth Avenue studio address, where he exhibited and catalogued his photographs, a Lake George home, where O’Keefe nursed the elder Stieglitz through difficult health issues (he eventually died of a heart attack), and O’Keefe’s refuge in Santa Fe, New Mexico truly draw the audience into the setting, with the intensity of the dialogue and even some sound effects, like wind and crackling fire. Paul Hudson’s lighting, Kevin Judge’s scenery, however spare, and Gail Cooper Hecht’s period costumes merge to add depth and texture to this sophisticated work. St. Luke’s Theatre seems to be the go-to theatre these days for historical drama that inspires the mind. Kudos to Natalie Mosco and Director, Robert Kalfin, for this inspirational and thought-provoking production.


I had a chance to meet briefly with Natalie Mosco after the show, at Zuni, 9th Avenue at 43rd Street, NYC. Ms. Mosco wrote a doctoral dissertation on O’Keefe, which was the inspiration for her play. To her, the play has a vision, about breaking taboos and expectations. When I asked Ms. Mosco about her background, I was amazed that she had danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and Royal Ballet, had been a dance captain for “Hair”, had acted with Marian Seldes at the American Place Theatre, and was a famed personality in the genre of theatre, television, and choreography in Australia and New Zealand for over two decades.

Natalie Mosco also wrote to me after the show, “I don't know if I achieved my goals, but I tried -- I didn't want to write a typical play. I wanted something that reflected O'Keeffe's approach to making art and a use of words akin to her meticulous brushstrokes. Also, I wanted audiences to be as overwhelmed by her breadth of experience as I had been overwhelmed by her volume of artistic output (something I first became aware of when I attended that first posthumous retrospective at The Art Institute of Chicago back in April, 1988).”




Natalie Mosco as Georgia O'Keeffe
in "A Brush with Georgia O'Keeffe"
Courtesy of Katvan Studios.




Natalie Mosco as O'Keeffe and David Lloyd Walters as Alfred Stieglitz
in "A Brush with Georgia O'Keeffe"
Courtesy of Richard Kent Greene/Workshop







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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net