New Play Focuses on Famous Female Art Collectors; Including Lesbian Couple

Credit: Angelo Canzani.

Four women get a chance at life after death in a local playwright’s new original work, “The Equivalent of Sensation.”

Playwright Arianna Rose’s historical and magical fantasy work centers around a day when sisters Etta and Claribel Cone (played by Celine Hakoun and Laurie Tanner, respectively), as well as Gertrude Stein (Carla Zackson Heller) and her long-term partner Alice B. Toklas (Leslie Kandel), come back to life and explore their own collection in an art gallery.

“There's nothing like sitting in the back of an audience watching people respond to something you wrote that came out of your imagination,” Rose said. “That they gasp, or they cry, or they laugh. It’s just the best feeling in the world.”

The four women were collectors of influential artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and are guided by an anthropomorphic Matisse painting (Brittany Nicholson) as they explore issues they had left unresolved during their lives.

The play debuts in Miami at the Sandrell Rivers Theater Sept 9, then goes to Boca Raton for the second weekend.

Rose had been writing and researching the play for about a decade before seeing it come to fruition.

Femuscripts Productions, an organization founded during the pandemic that is devoted to producing plays written by women, female-identifying, and non-binary playwrights, is producing the show’s run.

“I put out a call for submissions on the theme ‘back to life,’ which was partly a metaphor for this frustration of not being able to live a full life during COVID-19, but also I wanted to leave it open to interpretation,” said Tanner, the show’s producer who also plays Claribel Cone. “And Arianna’s play was a perfect fit because the four women characters and the painting literally come back to life for one day.”

Carey Brianna Hart, the play’s director, emphasized the uniqueness of the production.

“It's been really exciting bringing this play to life because it's brand new,” Hart said. “It's not like ‘Rocky Horror,’ it’s not like ‘West Side Story’ or ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ or even ‘Rent,’ where you have set characters and we have set ideas about who these people are and what they look like and the way that they speak and the highs and lows that they hit.”

The play will first show in Miami at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in collaboration with the Cultural Arts Partnership Program (CAP@SRT) through Fantasy Theatre Factory.

The Miami dates are Sept. 9 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at, over the phone at 305-284-8872, or in person at the Sandrell Rivers Theater Box Office. The following weekend the production will have showings in Boca Raton at the Sol Theatre. The dates are Sept. 16 at 3 and 7 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at


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