|Written by||John Krizanc|
|Date premiered||May 8, 1981|
|Place premiered||Strachan House, Trinity-Bellwoods Park
|Subject||Painter Tamara de Lempicka|
|Setting||Il Vittoriale degli Italiani|
Tamara is a 1981 play by John Krizanc about the painter Tamara de Lempicka. The play is based on the historical meeting of Gabriele d'Annunzio and de Lempicka. D'Annunzio had hired de Lempicka to paint his portrait, and invited her to his villa at Gardone Riviera on the southwest bank of Lake Garda, a villa now known as Il Vittoriale degli Italiani.
The play draws the audience into a labyrinthine story which reflects complicity in civic responsibility. De Lempicka declines to use her voice despite the power given it through her cultural preeminence. She sells her art to the highest bidder without commentary.
In Tamara the barrier between spectator and actor has been dissolved; the spaces intermingle, and spectators become actors on many stages. Tamara is postmodern theatre performed in a large house with ten actors performing simultaneous scenes in several different rooms; at other times there is simultaneous action in eleven rooms. The spectator can accompany the character of their choice and experience the story they choose, knowing that with the simultaneous performances they cannot experience the whole play. Thus the members of the audience make a series of choices, and depending upon these choices, each spectator creates their own individual viewing of the play from point of view they develop.
It was premiered at Strachan House in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, Toronto, Canada on May 8, 1981 and published as a book the same year. Tamara won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards in 1982 -- one as outstanding new play, and another as outstanding production.
In May, 1984, Tamara opened in Los Angeles, where it would run for nine years. The Art Deco-styled American Legion Hall on Highland Ave in Hollywood was used as the venue. The hall was originally decorated with about a dozen paintings by the title character, Tamara de Lempicka, drawn from various collectors including Barbra Streisand and Jack Nicholson, until the insurance costs proved prohibitive.
Soon after the play opened in New York in 1987, it starred Anjelica Huston as de Lempicka; Huston had first played the role in Los Angeles. The New York version, later also published in book form as Tamara: A Play, enjoyed a five year run.
It played 1990-1994 in Buenos Aires. It was also performed in Mexico City.
In Spring of 1992 American Producer Peter KLEIN produced and presented 'Tamara' at Villa BRASINI in Rome and also at Villa ERBA on lake Como, for a month each. Directed by George RONDO. Wonderful reception, great success. Sponsor was Omega/Swatch.
In 2002, a 20th anniversary production was mounted in Toronto.
There are five key choices in the play:
- 1. As characters leave and separate from a room, which will you follow?
- 2. Or will you wait and see who shows up in one or several rooms?
- 3. Will you follow the same character all the time, or switch characters as the play progresses?
- 4. Will you stay with a friend, or each adopt different strategies?
- 5. How will you respond when an actor gives you instructions (i.e. to follow them, or wait in the room, etc.)?
In 1995 Boje wrote an article for Academy of Management Journal about the play, and how people coming to a room in the play from different room sequences, will have very different organizational storytelling sensemaking of what is happening.
- Krizanc, John & D. M. Boje. Special Feature: Tamara Journal Interview with John Krizanc. Tamara Journal. Vol 5 (3): 70-77; Boje, D. M. Hyperion Responsorial: Tamara Organizing, Reply to Krizanc, pp. 81-85. Click here for Interview and response pdf
- "Spying on a unique drama," The Globe and Mail, 11 May 1981, Ray Conlogue
- "An outstanding night for Tamara," by Carole Corbeil, 16 November 1982, The Globe and Mail
- "The little play that grew," Stephen Godfrey, 26 December 1985, The Globe and Mail
- "Tamara the trail-blazer returns in April --- More than 20 years after it astonished audiences, show returns to Toronto," Martin Knelman, Toronto Star, 2 October 2002
- "Anjelica Huston to Star In Drama Off Broadway," The New York Times, 18 August 1987
- Boje, D. M. 1995. "Stories of the Storytelling Organization: A Postmodern Analysis of Disney as 'Tamara-land.'" Academy of Management Journal. 38(4): 997-1035. The article applied critical postmodern storytelling perspective to the Tamara play by looking at Disney corporate narratives, contrasting official (hegemonic) and more (corporately) marginalized stories Boje 1995 Academy of Management Journal.