The way I remember it, I am eight years old and playing Nintendo one Saturday morning when my father walks down the basement stairs to tell me about the play he and my mother saw the previous evening. He refers to the title as Say Yes, Pablo and notes that the play was supposed to be about Pablo Picasso but it was not really about anything, and in the place of normal dialogue there was a lot of chanting. He also said that 25 minutes into the show the first audience members exited out the back door, and the steady flow of unhappy patrons kept that back door open until the end.
Say Yes, Pablo holds a special meaing in our family. When we see a play that we really dislike, we say, “Well, at least it was better than Say Yes, Pablo.”
Elie Wiesel was a keynote speaker at the Chicago Humanities Festival in 2012 having been awarded the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize. His emergence onto the stage at the Symphony Center was met with a standing ovation the likes of which I have never experienced before or will ever experience again. It was the type of ovation that builds upon itself—sparked by awe and excitement and appreciation for one of the great voices for peace and justice. The applause was a wave, starting high, waning briefly, and then rising again and again driven by emotion. I can’t remember how anyone in the Symphony Center convinced us to stop applauding and sit down so the interview could begin.