BWW Review: FRIDA...A SELF PORTRAIT is Another Spectacular Production by KC Repertory Theatre at the Copaken Stage
An amazing selfie is brought to life in FRIDA...A SELF PORTRAIT that opened May 4th at Copaken Stage in Kansas City. Produced by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre for its Origin KC: New Works Festival the play runs through May 19 at the theater located in the H&R Block Building at 13th and Walnut. The Origin KC: New Works Festal has brought Kansas City into the national center for the cultivation and production of new works. The festival offers theatre artists financial, creative, and artistic resources to develop new and diverse works for the theatre.
Joanie Schultz directs this magnificently told story that delves into the life of Frida Kahlo a renowned Mexican artist who painted more than 150 paintings, mostly depicting her self and events from her own life which were often ambiguous in meaning. According to Wikipedia, she presented her works to raise awareness of Mexican society and identity especially towards gender, race, and social class.
Frida Kahlo was born to a German father and mestiza mother in 1907 and spent most of her childhood at the family home, La Casa Azul, which is now known as the Frida Kahlo Museum. Though born with polio her father did not allow the disease to disable her. Her ambition to attend medical school was cut short at 18 by a tragic auto accident that left her in extreme pain and requiring medical treatment. It was during this time that she began to return to her youth and began painting looking to the life of an artist.
In 1928 she married Diego Rivera a highly celebrated Mexican artist and her art was destined to live in his shadow for years. Her self portraits were inspired by Mexican folk culture with mixed elements of pre-Columbian and Catholic mythology. In the 1970s her works were rediscovered by art historians and political activists and by 1990 she was considered an icon for Chicanos and the feminism and LGBTQ movements.
Vanessa Severo wrote and brilliantly performs as Frida in this one person show which runs without an intermission. Having seen Severo in numerous productions over the years I have always considered her one of the top five performers in Kansas City. With FRIDA...A SELF PORTRAIT she shows that she was the writing talent to become a successful playwright as well. Her performance was near perfection as she took Frida and the audience through an array of emotions. One moment she was witty and confident, the next strong and powerful, and the next in an intense pain that made me cringe at times. Her use of costumes to portray her father, Diego and others was fascinating, bringing an individual life to each of the characters. This production and her performance will make you laugh, make you cry, but most of all it will make you feel.
FRIDA...A SELF PORTRAIT continues at the Copaken Stage through May 19. To purchase tickets online go to originkc.kcrep.org or call 816-235-2700.
Photo by Cory Weaver