On Stage, 'The Independents' Probes the Colorful Relationship of Artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas

  • October 15, 2019 13:08

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Shown in the 2014 exhibition "Degas/Cassatt" at the National Gallery of Art, Mary Cassatt, The Loge, c. 1878–1880, oil on canvas.
National Gallery of Art, Chester Dale Collection.
The Independents, written and directed by Christopher Ward, premieres in New York this fall.

A visit to the National Gallery of Art in DC five years ago sparked the imagination of playwright Christopher Ward. Inspired by the exhibition Degas/Cassatt, Ward researched and wrote a character-driven play that is historical fiction, spiced with authentic dialogue between the two legendary 19th-century impressionists.

When young American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt (1844–1926) arrived in Paris, she eventually met the celebrated French painter, sculptor and printmaker Edgar Degas (1834–1917), who was known as difficult and elitist. Degas met his match with the strong-willed American. Their stormy but symbiotic relationship is the subject of Ward's new play The Independents, premiering this fall in New York, in a limited engagement, Off-Broadway run Thursday, October 17th through Sunday, November 10th in the Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street. 

The Independents animates the two artists' intimate conversations and intertwined lives, which shaped their artistic output, resulting in paintings and sculpture that rocked the art world then and still resonate today. Cassatt found international success after meeting Degas. And the play leads us to wonder, did she also find love?

Tags: european art

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