Created by Ludmylla Reis
Produced by Litera Pro (Ottawa)
40m | PG | Play
How will I fit everything I love about Triptych into 400 words?
Wait! This is a perfect illustration of the first section of the play. The paralyzing dither and doubt of the artist. The play, like the art that inspires it, is divided into three sections, with separate but connected stories.
The first scene is ruled by the Tarot card The Hierophant, ruler of convention. Is there an artist in you? Is there a right way to do art? Why should you care? Why do you worry if others care? Maybe because you are an artist? Then why have you taken more courses than you’ve created art?
Ludmylla Reis, the performer and author of Triptych, introduces this theme by weaving it into the first section’s monologue, in character as Robin. The struggle to make the perfect cup of coffee finds the angst of being an artist percolating through it. The artist is an artist because they know they are an artist. They’ve made a deal with The Hierophant. Bills need to be paid, but art must also be made.
What baggage accompanied that realization? The second section of Triptych is ruled by The Hermit card, which brings introspection. Is anything you do good enough to please yourself, or those critics in the audience? The Hermit teaches a hard lesson. Attention to detail elevates you. It is one of the hardest jobs a human can do, since it is attempting a godlike work of embodying inspiration. Canadian wildlife painter Robert Bateman shared his experience: “Painting, for me, has never been a hobby. It is not relaxing… It is a labour, but it is what I do . . . a labour of love let us say.” He confesses he hates his paintings about halfway through their completion.
The artist can never really abandon art. It is what they are made of.
Enter The Tower, the third card of the Triptych: Crisis, liberation, unforeseen change. The pandemic? Robin makes mention of it, but I think COVID-19 is just a catalyst. The actor-artist in the Hermit section collapses onstage because of an unrelenting pursuit of perfection. The Tower introduces metamorphosis: Knowing things must change, but still unaware of what the change is going to be.
Robin declares, “I need to reinvent myself again.” But notice this is said as clown makeup is being applied. The artist can never really abandon art. It is what they are made of.
Triptych ends with Robin revealing their identity by reciting Puck’s last lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Portuguese. Puck’s other name is Robin Goodfellow, just as Ludmylla’s name may be Robin. Turns out there were a lot of people onstage, for a one-person play.
Shakespeare was quoted often, and I am sure he would have loved Triptych’s complexity and clever honesty. But I’m glad Ludmylla didn’t get seduced into using iambic pentameter. Still, if you are one of those who can’t get enough of that horse-riding rhythm, I’ll leave you with this:
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend.”
(Puck, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream Act V, scene I, by William Shakespeare)
And Ludmylla, if you are reading this review, you can see that even we critics must deal with the imperfection of our art. I’m preparing for my editor’s wrath and red pen. But it was worth leaving with a fond remembrance. I’m thinking of eating a triple-pepper pizza just to induce some Triptych dreams tonight.
Triptych is screening at the Ottawa Fringe Festival until June 27, 2021. Tickets are pick-your-price from $12.50 to $47.50 (100% of which goes to the artists) plus a $2.50 surcharge. Visit ottawafringe.com for streaming information and the complete festival lineup. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe. Shows are on-demand, however the festival’s ticketing platform can take up to 12 hours to email the streaming link. So although there’s no risk of online shows selling out, your best bet is to buy tickets early!