Guest director Ann Filmer brings Steve Martin play to NIU


The room is quiet, the lights are warm and the show is about to begin.

Tonight starts the performance of Steve Martin’s comedy “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” The NIU School of Theatre and Dance will be performing the play in the Stevens Building Players Theatre.

The play is being directed by Ann Filmer, a guest director to NIU and an artistic director of 16th Street Theater in Chicago.

The play begins in France during the year 1904 in a bar called the Lapin Agile. A young Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso enter the bar. This bar is where artists and scientists go to discuss possibilities for the 20th century. The play takes place the year before both Einstein and Picasso have become famous.

Filmer said the play depicts the odd and random qualities of Martin’s voice. Previously, she ran a theater company and directed one of Martin’s plays titled “WASP.” At the end of the show she received a bouquet of flowers, which was sent by Martin.

“It was kind of special to me,” Filmer said. “I like Steve Martin’s voice, and he is a beautiful writer.”

She said the audience will feel like they are part of the performance since they will have to walk through the Lapin Agile to get to their seats.

Rehearsals began on Feb. 15 and the actors have been working hard to master their characters.

Anthony Perrella Jr., a graduate student in the acting program who plays Picasso, said the play is quite interesting and inspiring. Perrella said he knew the role of Picasso was the right selection for him.

“I knew this role was perfect for me,” Perrella said. “It was a role I needed to play to grow as an artist, an actor and a person.”

Michael Steen, a sophomore pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree who plays Albert Einstein, said he appreciates Filmer coming in and directing the play since she helps provide expertise and a professional experience.

“It opens your eyes to the process how directors are working in Chicago,” Steen said. “You get to see the business use outside the educational setting.”