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Following the Heart, Deceiving the Eye

Cady Ann Smola (Dora) holds a knife toward Kristin Glaeser (Marie Therese) in a scene from Adoration of Dora.

Cady Ann Smola (Dora) holds a knife toward Kristin Glaeser (Marie Therese) in a scene from Adoration of Dora, the first production presented by the University of Idaho Department of Theatre Arts. The show opens Sept. 29.

Student-written Production Puts Sense of Reality to the Test

As an award-winning playwright and journalist, Lojo Simon knows what it’s like to be surrounded by suc­cessful people — and how it can help or hurt a career.

“You want to feed off that energy,” she says, but readily admits it can become all-consuming.

Add competition into the equation, and the pressure builds. Add intimacy, and someone is going to get hurt.

The struggle to maintain creative independence while attempting to cultivate a relationship was what attracted Simon to the story of Dora Maar. Already a professional photographer, Dora Maar was mistress to one of the most widely known and successful painters of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso.

Simon’s thirst for knowledge spurred her five-year writing process and was a driving force behind her induc­tion to the University of Idaho master in fine arts program in dramatic writing.

Now into her third year at the University, Simon is now working to put the final touches on her play, "Adoration of Dora," the first mainstage production for the Department of Theatre Arts in 2011-12.

The play will take on many surreal elements that have put technical teams to the test and will push audiences to look past their sense of reality.

“It’s an adventure to see art being made,” she says. “The audience has got to ... let go of the idea that what they see is going to be realistic.”

Director and associate professor of performance Robert Caisley says creating and coordinating the imag­ery within the play has been labor- intensive, but adds a unique aspect to the production.

“We’ve never done anything quite like this,” Caisley says. “There are some bizarre twists and turns that don’t follow logic.”

"Adoration of Dora" features six women playing multiple roles in the production. In many of Picasso’s paintings of Maar, he envisions her as a fractured woman seeming to have two sides. To illustrate this, two actresses will play Dora Maar, one as “Dora” and the other as her fractured self, “Maar.”

The antagonist, “Picasso,” never officially takes the stage. But his character, seen only in silhouette, “takes up a lot of space” with his influence alone, Simon says.

“Creativity was an all-consuming passion for him ... in his personal life he was a nightmare,” Caisley says.

His effect on “Dora” makes it apparent her days of success as an artist are numbered.

“(Picasso) was much older ... a success already ... How could she find her own path?” Simon says.

The trials “Dora” faces are not very different from the tests faced in any relationship.

“There are compromises we make when we enter into any relationship,” Caisley says. “The struggle is not to lose yourself ...”

Simon says the play will present its audience with a lot of concepts to mull over and opportunities for self-reflection.

“I wanted to present something more than simply an entertaining night at the theatre,” she says. “I promise "Adoration of Dora" will be entertaining, but it will also be thought-provoking.”

The play has been submitted to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for consideration in this year’s region VII competition. The play will be judged against others from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Northern Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Northern California and Alaska. KCACTF was created in 1969 to encourage quality theater in the U.S. There are currently 18,000 students involved in the program nationwide.

Evening performances for Adoration of Dora are 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29, 30 and Oct. 1, 6-8 in the Hartung Theater. Sunday matinees are 2 p.m. Oct. 2 and 9 in the Hartung. General admission is $10. Tickets are free to University of Idaho students and $8 for faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased at the University Ticket Office in the Kibbie Dome or by calling (208) 885-7212. Tickets are also available at the Hartung Box Office the night of the performance.

"Adoration of Dora" is rated R for nudity and language.