The Collection

THE COLLECTION is a new, full-length play about Peggy Guggenheim, famous collector of modern art.  Her collection, acquired between 1938 and 1965, now resides in her former home in Venice, Italy; it is a world-renown museum.

THE COLLECTION presents thirty-four brief, critical episodes in the life of Peggy Guggenheim.  Ms. Guggenheim was a fascinating and colorful character.  She was married several times, became friends with a vast assortment of American and European writers and painters, subsidized Emma Goldman so the activist could write her memoires, had an affair with playwright Samuel Beckett, smuggled her art to America in the midst of World War II, introduced Jackson Pollock to the American art scene, established galleries in London and New York City, and had a tumultuous relationship with her children.  Each episode is paired with a work of art from her collection.  The artworks are transformational, interactive, and complement the story.

The playwright, Al Schnupp, is a faculty member of the Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department.  An award-winning playwright, Mr. Schnupp has had his plays produced in New York City and in theatres across the country.

THE COLLECTION is performed by four actors.  The audience will come to intimately know Ms. Guggenheim during the performance, getting a sense of her personality, foibles, passions and eccentricities.  Episodes will reveal, for example:

  1. How Ms. Guggenheim responds when she is accused of caring more for her paintings than the refugees and victims of World War II.
  2. What Ms. Guggenheim says to a prominent arts administrator in England, who has refused to allow sculptures to pass through customs, prohibiting them from being displayed in her gallery.
  3. After her daughter commits suicide, Ms. Guggenheim examines her sometimes notorious treatment of her child.
  4. How the drowning of her father in the Titanic affected the actions and psyche of Ms. Guggenheim.
  5. International writers and artists who Ms. Guggenheim supported financially.
  6. How Samuel Beckett influenced Ms. Guggenheim.
  7. Why Ms. Guggenheim hated Picasso
  8. How and where did Ms. Guggenheim hid her art from the Nazi, before having the artwork shipped to America.

A unique aspect of this production is the fusion of art, dialogue and character.  Characters discuss particular paintings and artists.  In other cases the art illuminates the theme, represents a character, or acts as social commentary.  Many techniques are used to make the art transformational.  Panels within paintings open to reveal hidden scenes or compartments.  Images within paintings are manipulated.  Secondary images are imposed over primary images.   Paintings break apart, and images are reversed, repeated, enlarged or condensed.

The performance at 1821 Gallery & Studios is at 7 pm.  Tickets are $10.00.   Tickets should be purchased online at:

Or  Reservations can be made by calling 559-233-9992.


THE COLLECTION tour includes the following art venues

 San Luis Obispo   Steynberg Gallery   July 14, 15, 16

Paso Robles     Studios on the Park    July 17, 18

Fresno     1821 Gallery      July 22

Santa Barbara  The Rusty Barn  July 23

Ojai    Ojai Art Center      July 25

Santa Cruz    R. Blitzer Gallery      July 29

Carmel    Carl Cherry Center     July 30, 31

The role of Peggy Guggenheim will be played by Jaide Whitman.  An ensemble of three actors will play a wide assortment of characters; those actors are Ryan Austin, Ellen Eves and Daniel Cook.   Antonio Mata will be Stage Manager and Technical Assistant.   Al Schnupp will direct the show and is the tour coordinator.  Thomas Bernard, faculty member at Cal Poly, will design the costumes.  The Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts and the Theatre and Dance Department are among the show sponsors.

Jaide Whitman graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in 2012 with a Theatre Arts Degree.  Jaide has had a full professional life with work in hotel management, restaurant administration, non-profit accounting and most recently in small business consulting in Ojai, Los Angeles and Kauai.  The Collection will be Jaide’s sixth production with Al since 2008.  Jaide’s passions lie in expressive storytelling and the exploration of a collective creative process which has led to various teaching and performing endeavors over the years.

Daniel Cook is from Orinda, California and is currently a second year sociology student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  He also studies criminal justice and theatre.  Daniel has played the roles of Deputy Govenor Danforth in The Crucible and Colonel Melkett in Black Comedy for Cal Poly’s Theatre and Dance Department.  He enjoys the music of Louis Armstrong and Dean Martin, the novels of John Steinbeck, and the infield performances of Brandon Crawford.  After graduating college, he hopes to become an officer with the San Francisco Police Department.

Ryan Austin graduated from Cal Poly with a Theatre Arts BA in 2012.  Some of his Cal Poly credits include: Inspector Oodles in Zero to Infinity, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Lenny in Marisol, Creon in Antigone and Letters to Soldiers Lost, among others.  Ryan has also worked with Four Lights Productions on their HIDEO series of theatrical concerts as the title character, Hideo, for several years with performances in San Luis Obispo, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Collection marks the fifth production on which Ryan has worked with Al Schnupp.

Antonio Mata is a third year Theatre major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  He has performed in various Main Stage Productions, such as The Crucible, Betty’s Summer Vacation and The Other Shore.  He has worked backstage and done publicity for many other shows.  Recently he stage managed for the first time for The Little Prince.

Ellen Eves graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BA in Theatre Arts.  While at the university, she appeared in several performances each year including A Streetcar Named Desire, Antigone and Letters to Soldiers Lost, and Al Schnupp’s original work, Zero to Infinity.  After graduation, she remained in San Luis Obispo and pursued a career in sales while continuing to stay active in theatre along the central coast; recent performances include Dog Sees God andThe Hairy Ape.

Thomas John Bernard received his MFA in Costume Design and Technology from Northern Illinois University and his B.A. in Theater from the University Minnesota-Minneapolis. He has taught both costume design and technology at the University level for the last twenty-one years, currently for Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo.  He has worked for many theaters across the country, including Utah Shakespearean Festival, Little Theater of the Rockies, Central Coast Shakespeare, The Guthrie Theater, The Barn Theater, Phoenix Entertainment’s National tour of Gypsy, and Summer Night. He has received national recognition for both his design and technology work from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for designing Something’s Afoot and draping Comedy of Errors. Recent work includes draping Richard IIand Hamlet at Utah Shakespearean Festival and designing Spiked Heels, and The Crucible for Cal Poly.

 Al Schnupp, is a faculty member of the Theatre and Dance Department, Cal Poly, SLO.  He studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and holds a doctorate from UCLA.  He performed in summer stock and directed or designed approximately eighty productions for academic and professional theatres.  His play, Censored, about the life of artist Käthe Kollwitz, was produced professionally at The Invisible Theatre.   The Stone Circle, was co-authored and designed by Mr. Schnupp; it was produced at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and won an UNIMA International Citation of Excellence.  The playwright can be reached at  A comprehensive overview of his work can be seen on the website:  Mailing address: 8345 Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo, CA  93405.  Cell 805-215-6462.


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