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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 4:35 am | Fair 43º


‘Modotti and Weston’ a Web of Art, Politics, Passion Onstage at Alhecama

One-act adapted from screenplay by Claudia H. McGarry and Patrick Read

Humanitarian Tina Modotti and photographer Edward Weston.
Humanitarian Tina Modotti and photographer Edward Weston. (Courtesy photo)

A new play, Modotti and Weston, is the story of politically passionate people intertwining with magnetic artists who were all candid about their belief in communism and often liberal in their sexual pursuits.

The one-act, hour-long play reading will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Santa Barbara's Alhecama Theatre, 914 Santa Barbara St.

The reading, focused on the rather short life of Tina Modotti, was adapted from a screenplay by Claudia H. McGarry and her writing partner Patrick Read. McGarry also serves as director and producer.

Inspired by actual events, Modotti and Weston could be pulled from today’s headlines, yet, took place more than a century ago. Then, the Communist vs. the Democratic way of life polarized the world.

Modotti and Weston reflects a brief moment in the life of Modotti — a beauty, muse, artist and rebel, but above all, a humanitarian — and the famed photographer Edward Weston.

Modotti was born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini in Udine, Italy. She was a stunning woman and found work in America as a model and actress after arriving in San Francisco at a young age to join her family in 1913.

In her early 20s, it seemed an opportune time to transition and create a new persona for herself. This is when she met Weston, a successful photographer (his work still is revered and collected worldwide), who began to teach her the art of photography.

He quickly recognized her talent. Sparks flew between them and an illicit love affair began.

Robeaux Richey, Modotti’s young artist husband at the time, decided to move to Mexico. Determined to join her husband, Modotti persuaded Weston to move to Mexico to pursue their photography together.

Before plans were secure, however, Richey had died of smallpox. Modotti left for Mexico.

She found herself at the heart of a circle of artists and communists such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Julio Mella and others who greatly influenced the course of her life.

McGarry recently had her first play, Kiddo and Patty Hearst, produced at Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, The Alcazar in Carpinteria, and at the Hudson Guild in Chelsea, N.Y., often to sold-out performances.

“This new play is more character-driven because it’s focused on the fiercely passionate, artistic and sexual relationships of the characters," McGarry said.

"I’m really looking forward to having it performed at the Alhecama Theatre that was home to a professional local theater company for decades. The thespian vibes are strong in that auditorium,” McGarry said.

Performers include: Shari Howard, Erika Leachman, Peter Rojas, Philip Moreno, Ken Weiler, Isaiah Canada, Kathleen Russell Hardin, René Correa, Ryan Grau and Ivy Vahanian.

Tickets are $15, general; $10, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation members. Cash at the door or online at https://nightout.com/events/modotti-and-weston/tickets.

— Maureen McFadden for Alhecama Theatre.


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