While actress and playwright Daniela Vlaskalic has been a part of award-winning shows across Canada for decades, approaching her upcoming one-woman show certainly provides a unique set of challenges – but to tell the story of a groundbreaking female artist largely forgotten by history, she’s ready to take them on.
Co-written with Beth Graham and premiering with Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit during their spring edition of the High Performance Rodeo, Dora Maar: The Wicked One examines the true story behind the woman often underrepresented as the muse of Pablo Picasso. A brilliant photographer and painter in her own right, Maar even inspired elements of Picasso’s signature style. Chronicling the passionate relationship between the two, the play becomes a larger commentary on power, obsession, and not allowing Maar’s work to be overshadowed by the more famous man in her vicinity.
“My co-writer and I stumbled upon Dora Maar when we were working on a different play about degenerate art, set in WWII,” says Vlaskalic. “We found her to be a fascinating person, and a very modern woman in her time. The more we discovered the more we wanted to share about this extraordinary person and the life that she led.”
To prepare for the show, Vlaskalic read extensively about Maar’s life and pored through her catalogue of work, something that she says helped give an insight into her mind and connect with her. Although she laments being unable to personally talk to Maar, who passed away in 1997, about the play’s events, and will miss her usual routine of greeting the other cast members before the curtain rises, Vlaskalic is excited to present a character “endowed with thoughts and ideas that we wanted to explore as female artists” and bring an inspiring and long-buried story to the forefront. “It’s a great, human story about love, art, and survival,” she says. “It’s funny, wild and rebellious much like Dora Maar herself.”
To celebrate the opening of Dora Maar: The Wicked One, we asked Vlaskalic to make us a playlist of some of her favourite tunes.
Dora Maar: The Wicked One is part of One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo Spring Edition, May 5 to 14, 2022 at the Big Secret Theatre, Arts Commons. Get your tickets here.