The Gertrude Stein Project

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We’re happy to bring to you this weekend as our “City Garage Classic” a show I really love from 2001,“The Gertrude Stein Project.” It’s based on short writings from her which I adapted for the stage working with a wonderful cast. This is not for those who love realistic, linear plays, but for those who delight in playful language and lovely images. Just sit and enjoy and not think! Here is information from the press release:

“City Garage presents the World Premiere of The Gertrude Stein Project, an evening celebrating the stories of Gertrude Stein, adapted by Frederique Michel. Modernist icon Gertrude Stein created some of the most innovative literary works of the last century, prefiguring the work of both Beckett and Ionesco. Perhaps best known for her memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Stein’s literary celebrity often eclipsed the genius of her actual writing. Rarely produced as playwright, seldom read as an author despite her status as a literary giant, Stein is a delight few audiences have had the chance to discover. She created landscapes of language that combine the simplicity and joy of Matisse with the analytical bravura of Picasso. Director Frederique Michel asembles plays and prose fragments from Stein’s oeuvre to explore the author’s sensuality, wit, playfulness and earthy sexuality in a work as original and daring as Stein herself.”

Here is some of what the LA Times had to say about it:

“Flamboyant though she may have been in life, 20th century arts icon Gertrude Stein is not the first author to whose writings one would typically turn for theatrical inspiration. Famous for her flowery tautology (“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”) and other circular, often ponderous conundrums, the fiercely anarchic Stein trod a different path even in her plays, relying on cerebral deconstructions of language rather than the traditional dramatists’ toolkit to render human experience on the stage.

The challenge of impenetrability hasn’t intimidated Aresis Ensemble’s Frederique Michel from tackling “The Gertrude Stein Project” at Santa Monica’s City Garage. Honoring what she calls Stein’s “Cubist” approach to theater, Michel has assembled passages from Stein’s writings into a fragmented, kaleidoscopic presentation.

The concept could easily succumb to heavy-handed treatment, but Michel opts for a light, whimsical approach to her staging that makes the piece more fun and lively than it sounds on paper. Deep philosophical musings alternate with puns and even recipes from the cookbook of Stein’s lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas. Part recitation, part performance, this esoteric pastiche is framed with the company’s usual stylistic flair, juxtaposing heady conceptual dialogue with erotic imagery.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm on Friday through midnight on Wednesday.

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

Merci to our lovely and generous donors this last week,

Curt and Michele Wittig (again!)

Stay safe and wear a mask!



(Left to right) Jed Low, David E. Frank, Kathryn Sheer, Ford Austin, Maureen Byrnes
Photo; Ray Mickshaw
(Left to right) Kathryn Sheer, Katarina Lejona, Ford Austin,
Photo; Ray Mickshaw
(Left to right) Jed Low, Maureen Byrnes
Photo; Ray Mickshaw