Savage Arts at the Marsh; Stunning Sensual Awakening
by Linda Ayres-Frederick
“A true artist has no shame,” says French painter Henri enticingly as he beds his neighbor’s wife, Margaret in Sharon Eberhardt’s Savage Arts. Based on a true story of an Indian witchcraft trial that took place in upstate New York in the 1930’s, this solo performance is a volatile mix of sexual longing, opposing cultures, criminality, and prejudice. In her quiet but audibly calm voice, Eberhardt takes on the personae of several distinct characters that people her story using a minimum of props — a simple apron and a single chair — with the addition of one shaft of light coming from the artistst’s studio that indicates his haunting presence.
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Based on an actual “Indian Witchcraft Trial” in 1930 Buffalo, NY. A naive housewife enters a world of art, passion and Iroquois tribal lore when a French artist moves next door. His paintings of Seneca Indians lead to a brutal crime.
Performances: January 18 – February 16, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. Tickets $15-35, sliding scale, available at www.themarsh.org, or 1(800) 838-3006. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia Street @ 22nd San Francisco, CA 94110. Info on local restaurants, transportation and parking.
Sharon is interviewed by the Cool As Hell Theatre Show hosted by KQED. Listen to the podcast! www.kqed.org/arts/cash
Savage Arts was originally developed at The Marsh, a breeding ground for new performance, as part of the Performance Initiative, directed by David Ford. It was presented at Emerging Artists One Woman Standing Festival, April, 2007.
*Savage Arts Marsh, 1062 Valencia, upstairs studio; 826-5750, 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $15-35, sliding scale. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Feb 16. Love. Lust. Murder. Art. Lies. Xenophobia. An apron and a chair. These are the themes and sole props in Sharon Eberhardt’s original play, in which an out-of-love housewife and her dying husband become entangled in the brutal intrigue surrounding the unsolved murder of a new neighbor. Brilliantly written and earnestly acted, Savage Arts brings to life a true-crime drama with real newspaper quotes, stories, and characters based on key players in the infamous 1930 trial of Lila Jimerson, or “Red Lila,” the woman accused of murdering the wife of a French artist in Buffalo, NY. The story is told from the point of view of Margaret, an emotionally volatile witness, who goes from loyal, doting wife to fierce, revitalized adulteress to insecure, self-deprecating room pacer in a matter of 80 minutes. It is quite a sight to behold. An earlier form of this one-woman tour de force was initially developed and staged at the Marsh’s Festival of New Voices, and now Eberhardt is back where it all started. Directed by artist in residence David Ford at the intimate Upstairs Studio Theater, this production is not for audiences who are afraid of direct eye contact or strange women unbuttoning their blouses in public. The audience sees everything, including a whole handful of characters, through Margaret’s eyes, and she is not as puritanical as she first seems. (Amy Glasenapp)