Lakewood Theatre Company’s 60th season continues with the Tony Award-winning play “ART” by Yasmina Reza. The production, with stage direction by Alan Shearman, is a sly, satiric comedy that explores the perception of art and its effect on lasting friendships.

Winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, “ART” revolves around three friends who tangle over the merits of an all-white painting that one of them has purchased for a small fortune.

Serge (David Knell), a collector of modern art, purchases a large, expensive, completely stark white painting.The painting is described in the following manner: “Imagine a canvas about five foot by four, with a white background, completely white in fact, with fine white diagonal stripes.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO PHOTOGRAPHERS - Pictured from left are, David Knell, Alan H. King and Leif Norby in 'ART.' The play opens Oct. 26 and continues through Dec. 2 at Lakewood Center for the Arts.Serge’s gregarious friend Marc (Leif Norby) is aghast at what he perceives as his friend’s utter madness.Their relationship suffers considerable strain as a result of their differing opinions of what constitutes art and what does not. Another friend, mild mannered Yvan (Alan H. King) is caught in the middle, trying in vain to remain neutral.

The context of the play, according to playwright Yasmina Reza, was born out of an encounter she had with one of her friends, Serge Goldszal, to whom she dedicated the play. He bought a painting similar to the white-on-white, which is the focus of “ART” and showed it to Reza. Describing the scene, she says,”I laughed and said ‘You must be mad.’ And then we both laughed. He loves the painting and knew I might not, and we laughed because our complicity was in no way spoiled. But if he hadn’t laughed and had thought that the choice revealed his friends in another light....”

“ART” is essentially the dialogue that might have taken place if Goldszal had not been receptive to Reza’s laughter. She attributes the difference in reactions in part to the natures of the relationships. Hers is a friendship between a man and a woman, but she alleges that friendship among men is unique. She describes it as “terribly rigid,” and says “often men have no real friends, French men at least. They have colleagues, contacts, but not friends and when they do it is very strong, possessive, rigid. All the men who saw “ART” said it is amazing, how did you understand this or that? I said I understood nothing, I just noticed.” She embraces the opportunity to “notice” things in this way saying, “I like the freedom that men have in speaking. Women are not allowed that. We are taught to be polite. It is very funny for a woman to write as a man because you can say things you would not dare say as a woman.” This on-looker perspective allows her to fashion in “ART” a humorous and sometimes painfully accurate view of the complexities of friendship, a dynamic which she describes as “at least as strong and as difficult as love.”

“ART” opens Oct. 26 with performances running through Dec. 2, with Thursday through Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28, Nov. 4 and 11, and 2 p.m. matinees on Nov. 4, 18, 25 and Dec. 2. There is no performance scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, but there is a Wednesday, Nov. 28 performance at 7:30 p.m.

The show has language recommended for mature audiences.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $27 for seniors and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 503-635-3901.

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