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At The Dawn Of The 20th Century, Art Meets Science

Steve Martin'sPicasso at the Lapin Agile is at the Shawnee Theatre. That Steve Martin? Yes, that Steve Martin, the banjo player and comedian-famous for his wry rendering of "King Tut" and his signature line "Excuse Me!"-is also an essayist, a novelist and a playwright.

Conquering Time And Space

Shawnee's Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson also has a string of qualifications: She's an actor, teacher, university faculty member, and director.

During the regular school year, Thibodeaux-Thompson and her husband Eric are on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Springfield. During the summers they frequently head off in different directions, following opportunities to act and direct. "This year we're not only lucky enough to be at the same place, we're even here at the same time," Thibodeaux-Thompson says.

The Thibodaux-Thompson's luck in space and time travel this summer is mirrored in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The play is set in a Paris café in 1904. The Lapin Agile was a real place-Picasso was a frequent patron-but it took Steve Martin to conquer geography, by bringing Einstein through the café's doors, and time as well, with a visit from Elvis Presley. "It's a very funny play."

Moving Smoothly At Shawnee

Thibodeaux-Thompson is not just pleased with the play; she's also happy with the pace of summer theatre at Shawnee. Things are going well: "Last week when we blocked the show, it was the quickest and the smoothest job that I've ever seen. Everyone here is really operating at such a high level of intensity and focus. It's just great."

She goes on to elaborate on the play itself. "Steve Martin, in addition to being a wit, also has some real depth. There's actually a serious discussion of what an artist brings to his creation, and then a humorously presented-but very interesting-discussion of the ways in which Einstein's science and Picasso's art are really much closer than we might think."

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