GVT Examines The Question 'What Exactly is Art?'

ART by Yasmina Reza is relatively simple in nature; three friends arguing with each other after one of them has bought a very expensive painting that the other two find ridiculous. As the debate heats up, things turn personal and the friends start bringing more personal feelings to the table. More than likely, this is something that we are all able to relate to, a situation we have all been in within our group of friends. Sometimes these situations blow up, or sometimes they help individuals grow stronger. At times it is the simplest of situations and actions that can cause the strongest emotions. The relatable situation of relationship ebb and flow is something that drew director Robert Clater to this piece.

“I was blown away by the simplicity of the production juxtaposed with the complexities of the three characters,” said Clater. “That’s the heart of the piece. Our set is minimal so that’s what you get, full throttle, the relationship between these three friends.”

ART has won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, as well as a Tony and New York Drama Critic’s award for Best Play. While Reza’s work does feature comedy from this group debate, it really revolves around that simple question. What exactly is art? Why would someone purchase an all-white painting? Art can very much be in the eyes of the beholder, and can stir different emotions in different viewers; no matter how simple or complex.

Clater is excited for audiences to take in the message of this seemingly simple play. He expects that the message that is taken away though, may be different for each viewer.

“We have become so polarized now, that it seems that we can’t agree on anything. Substitute this blank canvas for our strife that we experience today,” said Clater. “Whatever is the flashpoint, we can address it metaphorically in this play.”

While Reza’s work will certainly make you laugh, it will also make you think about some larger topics, in fact, that is exactly what Clater is hoping for.

“This is an evening that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre. I know you’ll discuss it with your friends and family,” said Clater. “You may relate to one character more than the other, but I assure you, these are people that you know.”

ART opens at Greenbrier Valley Theatre on Oct. 29 and runs through Nov. 6. The show does contain strong language, so viewer discretion is advised. Tickets are available online at the theatre’s website: www.gvtheatre.org or by calling the box office at 304-645-3838.

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