Cover image by Susie Kirkwood


Mark Chrisler
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Three wickedly scintillating plays on the artistry and science of duplicity, mendacity, and deception. THE ART OF PAINTING: “The Art of Painting” is the magnum opus of Johannes Vermeer, one of the greatest artists in history, who lived his whole life ruing the life and work of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, one of the greatest-er artists in history. Or “The Art of Painting” is the magnum opus of Han van Meegren, one of the greatest art forgers in history who lived his whole life ruing the work of artist Johannes Vermeer. Or “The Art of Painting” is an act of rue by Jacques van Meegren, son of one of the greatest art forgers in history, who lived his whole life bereft of a father who let him down. A story of sex, Nazis, philosophy, forgery, patricide, creation, deception, art, authenticity, rue, rue, and rue all presented with the same eye for false historical verisimilitude that its sources pretended to demand. PHONIES, FRAUDS AND FAKES: A whirlwind tour of some of the greatest liars history and nature have to offer. A list that does not include the author’s ex-girlfriend who scammed him for four years, about whom he will not be speaking. IMPOSTERS: Persecuted gay British codebreaker Alan Turing helped develop the first computers and an empirical test for artificial intelligence and other minds. To write about him, the author enlisted the two 1970’s robots, ELIZA and PARRY, who first challenged Turing’s test. Together with the author, ELIZA and PARRY have written their tribute to Turing: a dark meditation on whether and in what forms our minds really exist.

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Press Quotes


“If THE ART OF PAINTING were a real art history lecture, it would be a sophomore’s dream. The instructor (Mark Chrisler) is cute, and he makes the lives of long-dead white European men entertaining.” —Anita Gates, The New York Times

“… more exciting and intellectually stimulating than anything I remember from college … Chrisler builds a sense of unreliability and mystery, and the twists that follow are a refreshing reminder of the vivid worlds a one-man show can create onstage.” —Marissa Oberlander, Chicago Reader

“A gripping historical narrative of intrigue and forgery … Chrisler’s script is well-written … eloquent.” —Vanessa Thill, Time Out New York

“A masterful piece of heady writing … it fluidly interweaves juicy facts about the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, his famous forger, the art-historical contexts in which their paintings are situated, and riotous references to other famous artists, artworks and Nazis … like a dramatic reading of someone’s brilliantly constructed master’s thesis.” —Lisa Jo Sagolla, BackStage


“What starts as a witty lecture on history’s biggest lies soon morphs into the fascinating story of Chrisler’s four-year involvement with a girlfriend who turned out to be a pathological liar. As he relates how he fell for one whopper after another, Chrisler is insightful on self-deception and the way great liars exploit our willingness to believe what we want to believe, even when the truth is staring us in the face. Still more ingenious, Chrisler uses those very qualities against us, carefully parceling out information in a way that leaves us eager to know what happens next even after we begin to doubt the reliability of our narrator … an unsettling and irresistible act of storytelling that … illustrates the power of a cracking good yarn.” —Zac Thompson, Chicago Reader


“Mark Chrisler credits ELIZA and PARRY as his coauthors on IMPOSTERS, and their influence is undeniably apparent. ELIZA and PARRY were two ‘chatterbots’: computer programs, dating from 1966 and 1972, respectively, that could generate primitive forms of conversation. Their idiosyncrasies — including ELIZA’s tendency to turn everything into a question and PARRY’s preoccupation with Mob involvement in horse racing — gradually invade a dialogue between the tragic British computer genius Alan Turing and an interrogator called Nicolas Bourbaki (which is also the nom de plume of a group of mathematicians who specialized in set theory), raising the question of whether Turing and Bourbaki are human … [What emerges is ] a surprisingly vivid sense of anguish as Turing seems to go off program and, well, raise the question of whether he’s human.” —Tony Adler, Chicago Reader

About the Author


  • Mark Chrisler

    Mark Chrisler's plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, London, San Francisco, New Orleans, and throughout the US, as well as in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He has been presented or developed at such places as The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Stella Adler Studio, The San Francisco Playhouse, Ilkhom Theatre, Four Humours Theatre, The Side Project, Springboard Theatre, The New York International Fringe Festival, Curious Theatre Branch and many more. He is the author of over ten full-length and solo plays in addition to nearly a hundred short plays. He received his MFA in dramatic writing from Ohio University and his BA in theater arts from Northern Illinois University. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including a Newberry Library Fellowship, a special Orgie Award, a NAPAT New Play Award and the Best Emerging Playwright of 2010 award from The Chicago Reader. He lives in Chicago with his wife, where he serves as a resident playwright for Found Objects Theatre Group, an Artistic Associate for Prop Thtr and teaches playwriting for Silk Road Rising Theatre.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 8/21/2015
Pages 112
ISBN 9780881456059