John DuVall, left, and Mark Nielsen rehearse a scene from “ART,” opening June 25 at Frontier Warren in downtown Warrenton.


How much would you pay for a white painting? Would it be art? And would you confront a longtime friend over the purchase?

“ART,” a play by Yasmina Reza, with translation by Christopher Hampton, will take a look at how three friends handle a disagreement over the purchase of a painting when Lakeland Cultural Arts Center and Frontier Warren partner on three show dates later this month. Tickets are on sale now for “ART,” playing Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26, 7-9 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, June 27, 2-4 p.m., show starts at 2:30 p.m. Doors open a half-hour in advance.

Charcuterie will be available for purchase by Korita Steverson of Not So Basic Batches, and wine will be available by donation.

Dr. LaVonne McClain will direct.

Originally written in French, the serio-comic play won the 1996 Olivier Award for Best Comedy and the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play.

Lakeland’s artist director John DuVall said “ART” works well in the more intimate setting the Frontier Warren co-working space provides. He calls the play thought-provoking and engaging.

“It’s about how we look at art and each other, so much more to do about art and how three men deal with each other,” he said. “They’re really mean to each other.”

DuVall should know. He plays Serge, who purchases an all white painting that sparks a heated disagreement with longtime friend Marc, played by Mark Nielsen, who thinks the painting is a joke.

Rounding out the cast is David Lasky, a Roanoke Rapids educator and Lakeland veteran who plays the part of Yvan, the peacemaker.

Lines are drawn and the three friends square off over the canvas, using it as an excuse to relentlessly batter one another over various failures. As their arguments become less theoretical and more personal, they border on destroying their friendships.

Nielsen, a Lake Gaston resident who has performed in several Lakeland shows, described the play as energetic and his character as a real butthead.

He and DuVall warn that the play contains plenty of adult language. 

“That should be pointed out,” Nielsen said.

OK, so butthead may not be the word he used to describe his character. Let’s just say Marc (with a “c”) isn’t very nice.

“It’s brutal. It’s almost hard to say some of these things,” DuVall said about the script.

“We feel really unleashed,” Nielsen added, smiling.

He didn’t seem to be having much trouble staying in character when he and DuVall rehearsed a scene moments later. 

Reminder. Adult language.

DuVall described the script as conversational and very fast, and all three characters as outlandish and over the top.

Playing to a small audience in the intimate setting of the Frontier space will allow the actors to be up close.

“It challenges us as actors and is more raw,” DuVall said. “It’s less safe. We can do smaller emotions.”

Following the show, DuVall will lead a talk back with the audience to discuss who they liked the least and the most, and to challenge them to identify the protagonist.

Unlike the first play presented this spring at Frontier Warren, which was a reading, “ART” will be memorized by the actors.

To purchase tickets, go online to or see Events on the Frontier Warren Facebook page.

Frontier Warren is at 140 S. Main St., Warrenton.