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Pascal Productions Presents "Modotti" at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre
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Pascal Productions Presents "Modotti" at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Pascal Productions

(Tina Modotti Bio)

Playwright and Director: Wendy Beckett

Acorn Theatre
Theatre Row
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street

Marco Greco, Jack Gwaltney, Stacey Linnartz,
Andy Paris, Dee Pelletier, Alysia Reiner,
Josh Tyson, Mark Zeisler

Scenic Design: John McDermott
Costume Design: Theresa Squire
Lighting Design: Lauren Phillips
Sound Design: Ray Thomas/Ian Wehrle
Projection Design: Brett Heath
Casting Director: Judy Henderson CSA
Marketing Director/Press: Katie Rosin, Kampfire PR
Production Stage Manager: William H. Lang
Production Supervisor:
Peter R. Feuchtwanger, PRF Productions
General Manager: Adam Fitzgerald

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 23, 2010

Tina Modotti, an Italian photographer, actress, and communist activist, whose tumultuous, short life spanned from 1896 to 1942, must have been a fascinating figure, and I'd love to know more. However, I learned very little about Ms. Modotti in Wendy Beckett's two-act play at Theatre Row, which was like Wikipedia speed-reciting, but more disengaging. The Acorn Theatre is tiny, and my seat was near the stage. Yet, I struggled to absorb the plot, which morphed from Los Angeles, to Mexico, to Spain, and back and forth, or so it seemed. When Ms. Modotti's (Alysia Reiner) professional photos were projected, elements of passion, although elusive, added dynamism to the drama. The action begins over cocktails in Los Angeles, 1920, with Modotti narrating her early life in the theatre. We meet her lover, a poet-writer, Robo (Andy Paris), as well as the photographer 'mentor, Edward Weston (Jack Gwaltney).

In later Mexican scenes, we meet the artist, Diego Rivera (Marco Greco). Latin guitar signals the venue. Politics draws Modotti in, and activist-writer-colleagues, Bertram and Ella Wolfe (Mark Zeisler and Dee Pelletier), engage in boring banter, rear stage, about the Mexican Revolution. Andy Paris dies twice, once as Robo, from Smallpox, and once as Mella, another of Modotti's lovers, from murder. In addition to the Mexican Revolution, there's a segment on the Spanish Civil War, but all these international wars occur in conversation, confusing and cluttered. An extra set of stage characters is played by Stacey Linnartz, in this undeveloped blitz, with Josh Tyson as musician and as two side characters. What occurred to me was that this ripe story, that was never told, could be the concept for a photography exhibit, with recordings and slide shows that weave Modotti's biography through riveting sequences. Even a one-woman narrative, with projected slides, original music, and scenic sound effects could create a gripping, informative docu-drama.

The cast of "Modotti"
at the Acorn Theatre
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Alysia Reiner as Tina Modotti
Jack Gwaltney as Edward Weston
in "Modotti"
at the Acorn Theatre
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Alysia Reiner as Tina Modotti
Stacey Linnartz as Susan
in "Modotti"
at the Acorn Theatre
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Marco Greco, Alysia Reiner,
Andy Paris, Mark Zeisler
in "Modotti"
at the Acorn Theatre
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at