Frida K.


Ed Farolan

Written by Gloria Montero
Performed by Allegra Fulton
September 22-27 at the
The Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Gloria Montero gives us historical insights of that magnificent period of the first half of the 20th century when so many dynamic events were happening: the two world wars, the Mexican Revolution, the Russian revolution, the "isms" in the visual and performing arts...

Born in the midst of this colourful period, Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon, a.k.a. Frida K., lives and dies. Her life is symbolic of this period in our history: "dynamic, theatrical, complex", quoting Director Peter Hinton.

Frida K. was written expressly for the birthday of Allegra Fulton, Montero's daughter, and I must say, Ms. Fulton did a tremendous performance on opening night at the VECC, holding the audience spell-bound for ninety minutes. The role fit her to the T, and what struck me the most was her exit line which summarized the Mexican painter's life: "If my life was happy, I would not have painted at all."

This one-actor play takes place on the eve of Frida's solo exhibition in Coyoacan, Mexico on April 13, 1953, a year before she dies. As Kahlo dresses in the traditional Tejuano style and does her make up, adorning her hair with flowers and her hands and neck with pre-Columbian jewelry, she recounts her life story: her tragic marriage to the great muralist Diego Rivera; her affair with Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky; her surrealist friends Marcel Duchamps, Andre Breton and Salvador Dali; her relationship with Pablo Picasso ("He taught me a few things, and I also taught him some"); her bisexuality and addiction to morphine and alcohol due to the chronic pain she suffered for polio and a bus crash accident in her childhood and teen years.

This play was first staged by Metal Corset Company and Miranda de Pencier at the 1994 Toronto Fringe Festival, co-directed by Peter Hinton and Naomi Campbell. The Spanish version was performed with great success at Madrid's Autumn Festival in 1995 and subsequently at Barcelona's Teatro Artenbrut. It is currently playing in Barcelona at the Sala Muntaner. It recently had a successful run in Mexico City, in English! Their next stop? Chicago and then, The Big Apple!