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January 25, 2012

THE PITMEN PAINTERS CRAWL OUT OF COAL MINE


Nicholas Pelczar, James Carpenter, Patrick Jones, Dan Hiatt, Jackson Davis. Photo: Mark Kitaoka












COAL MINERS GO TO ART SCHOOL



 MINERS GO TO ART SCHOOL

In England, miners founded an amateur art group in 1934. Had they ever painted before? No! But, amazingly the art appreciation class, called the ‘Ashington Group’ took the miners to new heights.  History was made with the paintings of the Miners.  They were skeptical at first. Along comes Robert Lyon, who was a lecturer at Armstrong College in Newcastle upon Tyne. He had been asked to discuss the possibility of forming an art appreciation class with the miners. And so began a long a tedious road for men who worked under ground under harsh conditions, now they were also painting their impressions of working men that they were familiar with. Basically, these men painted impressions of their own lives. The outcome is quite fascinating.

The Pitmen Painters get inspired. Their success gives them the feeling that they can now do more than dig for coal. And it’s a good feeling.  With their amusing banter, they learn that to assert themselves with their paintings and the closeness with each other over the years, gave them the feeling that ‘Now’ they are someone to be noticed – not just someone who has dirty hands. However, paint does get on their hands also. This play is based on a true story, and that makes it doubly interesting. This West Coast premiere has some really funny wisecracking social commentary between the miners. The banter between the men goes through an amazing transition from coal dust to the art world.

There is a gorgeous, glamorous woman, who takes a special interest in one of the coal miners. He is a handsome lad and she really is taken by his artwork. However, as the story goes on – she offers him a job to just paint on canvas at her mansion. He decides not to leave his buddies who he has known all his life in the mines. Later he changes his mind – but the rich and gorgeous woman is no longer interested in his paintings. There is a feeling that she wanted something more from him than just some artwork. She comes down to see his latest work – and she bluntly tells him that it is not as good, and that she would not be buying anymore of his Art. To me, it’s clear that she had some Amore in the back of her head and not just Art. But English society does not give up on the miners-cum-artists. The professor encourages the men to put their thoughts on canvas. And boy – it is ever revealing.

This is Thrilling Theater. The play by Lee Hall is all the things it should be: emotional and political! And talk about extraordinary performances – this cast is “spellbinding!”

The Towering performers are: James Carpenter, Patrick Janes, Jackson Davis, Nicholas Pelczar, Dan Hiatt, Paul Whitworth, Kathryn Zdan, and Marcia Pizzo. This fantastic cast is “Unique and unforgettable!”

NOW PLAYING AT THEATRWORKS IN MOUNTAIN VIEW. (Just a couple of block away from Cal Train.)

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-


(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has produced and hosted a long-running Arts segment on PBS- KQED)))

Follow Lee: Facebook/Lee Hartgrave 
Twitter/famereporter 

courtesy beyondchron 

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