Interview: Peter Tate on Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré and Pick of the Fringe

Opening tonight, Pick of the Fringe, the Playground Theatre’s season of handpicked solo plays straight from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs through to 25 November. These five and 4 star reviewed and award-nominated shows represent some of the very best work on show that featured at this year’s Fringe Festival.

The season kicks off with The Playground Theatre’s founder and artistic director Peter Tate taking on the role of Picasso in Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré under the direction of Guy Masterson, whose reason success includes the Fringe, West End and Broadway hit The Shark Is Broken. This is followed by the gripping  Harold Shipman drama The Quality of Mercy with Justin Butcher’s biblical drama The Devil’s Passion, following next. The season all includes a double bill by Gail Louw comprising The Good Dad, a true and haunting love story, and sister-drama The Mitfords. Rounding off the season is Nearly Lear, in which the performer and clown Sussana Hamnett tells Shakespeare’s most tragic tale from the Fool’s perspective.

We spoke with Peter Tate about his dual role of playing Picasso and curating the season as the theatre’s artistic director.

Q&A with Peter Tate

How does it feel to be running a season of the best solo shows from Edinburgh Fringe at The Playground Theatre?

I am very pleased with both the content and the artistic teams involved. I saw all of them and know them to all be impactful.  Some of them are uncomfortable in that they challenge but others are joyful
How did you approach curating the season?
As I said, I saw a lot of shows in Edinburgh and when I made my list I had to approach them all to see if available and only one show was not available so then I set about programming them
You’re kicking off the season with your own show Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré, what can you tell us about it?
It is a very unsanitised view of him-both the good and the bad. The original production of my full-scale Picasso was endorsed by Sylvette, one of Picasso’s muses. I have had tremendous 5* reviews and was nominated for an award.
What was the inspiration for adapting Terry d’Alfonso’s play for solo performance? 
Guy Masterson, my director on Picasso, saw me play Shylock directed by Bill Alexander. He liked me as an actor and then said to me, ‘You look a little like Picasso’ and I said, ‘I have a play on Picasso’ and he said, ‘Ever thought of a solo show on him’ and I said let’s do it. So we adapted it together.
How challenging is it to bring someone as recognisable as Picasso to life on stage?
The challenge is to understand someone who led a completely different life to me. My wife would not have been with me for so long if I had of been Picasso in real life. I’m half Greek so I have some of the Latin temperament which helps.