UNH theatre grad returns for ‘Human Fruit Bowl’
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
On Friday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 p.m., the UNH Department of Theatre and Dance will welcome the show “Human Fruit Bowl.” Written by Andrea Kuchlewska and directed by Liam Billingham, “Human Fruit Bowl” is a one-woman show starring UNH alumna Harmony Stempel and explores the inspirational, yet sometimes tumultuous, creative relationship between artists and their models.
Stempel graduated from UNH in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in theater with an emphasis on performing arts. After graduation, she found herself as a figure model at the New York Studio School in Manhattan, an experience that catalyzed the creative process for “Human Fruit Bowl.” At the New York Studio School, Stempel modeled five days a week for almost 10 hours each day.
“There is nothing to do but think; you go through a lot of lists in your head,” Stempel said.
It was during these sessions, which Stempel described as physically demanding as well as emotionally therapeutic, that the idea for “Human Fruit Bowl” came to life.
“I was just sort of a fruit bowl,” Stempel said.
It was this observation that came to define the framework of the play. Stempel brought this idea to playwright and friend, Kuchlewska. The pair worked together for months researching the relationships between artists and their models.
One story that captivated Kuchlewska and Stempel was that of the French painter Pierre Bonnard and his model, Renee Monachty. Monachty was found dead in her bathtub by her own hand, a result of what many attribute to the heartbreak of the news of Bonnard’s marriage to his wife, Marthe. The story of Bonnard and Monachty’s relationship and the connection to Monachty’s alleged suicide remains a mystery for the art world, a mystery that the main character of “Human Fruit Bowl” intends on solving.
“Human Fruit Bowl” tells the story of Beth, a nude model whose fascination in the relationship of model and artist provides the foundation for the play. The stage is designed like an art studio, with the audience serving as the prospective artists to whom Beth directs her monologue.
Scenes of the play are conducted like an art history lecture, incorporating multimedia elements to display seminal artwork on stage. The play encourages audience participation and reaction.
“Don’t come hungry or too tired because I need your full attention,” Stempel said.
“Human Fruit Bowl” has been critically acclaimed by theater enthusiasts from around the world and has received several prestigious awards.
The play made its debut at the Prague Fringe Festival in 2011 and won the Kreativni Cena or Creative Award. Stempel was then invited to perform “Human Fruit Bowl” at the Hong Kong Microfest, as well as in the Netherlands.
“Human Fruit Bowl” will be performed for one night. It is a free event with limited seating. The play contains adult content and nudity.