Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 14, 2013: Leonard Nimoy's Vincent

Date: June 14, 2013
Event: Leonard Nimoy's Vincent at Symphony House, with Q&A afterwards with Mr. Nimoy
Cost: $35 for a general admission ticket
Summary:  I readily admit I knew little about Vincent van Gogh; this was an amazing way to gain some knowledge and insight.

I will be the first to admit that not only did I not know much about Vincent van Gogh (other than what we learned in art history class and getting my picture taken with Stary Night at MoMA), but I will also admit that I pretty much went to this play because of the Q&A session afterwards with Mr. Nimoy (*cough*yes I'm a trekkie*cough*).

But, it was such a wonderful surprise.  The actor (singular, for it was a one man show),  Jean-Michel Richaud, was amazing!  Amazing!  The pace was good, the material was interesting, and the length was perfect.  I left with a desire to know a little bit more about Vincent van Gogh (and about his brother Theo, who was the narrator in this play).

And, of course, the Q&A was wonderful.  No mention of Star Trek other than a passing comment when asked why he wrote Vincent.  Mr. Nimoy's answer was he was tired of talking about the things he was talking about -- something about a TV show he did once (at which point the audience laughed appropriately and knowingly) -- and that there must be more out there he could do.  So he wrote this play.

Lots more about the play and Q&A (as well as pictures) below the cut.

Well, first of all, I was almost late.  It was supposed to take 30 minutes to get to the theater.  The show started at 7:30, so I left a full hour before showtime.  I got to the end of my block and realized I had forgotten my phone.  Okay, back to my place to get it.  Then I miss the express to Times Square by 5 wait an extra 3 minutes for the local.  But the REAL problem started at Times Square where I transferred to the 2.  The 1-2-3 platform was PACKED.  Like barely enough room to move and more people coming down the stairs onto it every second.  Apparently there had been an incident further down the track and the trains had just started running again.  I managed to get on the third train that went by and it was body to body in there.  Ugh.  I ended up getting to Will Call at 7:26.  Just enough time to get my tickets, go to the bathroom, and find my seat!


Okay, now a little about the theater -- it's small and very basic. But very intimate. Despite being late, because it was only me I was able to get a seat in the second row, but really, every seat would have been a good one.



Now, here's the brochure (no official Playbill but this is pretty cool!) and also a description of the play from the program. This is as much as I knew about it going in.

Vincent program


And then it began... (and there were some gasps when the actor first took the stage because he looked SO MUCH like the self portrait of van Gogh that was on display on the set)

Things I learned from the play:
  • Theo was pretty much the reason van Gogh was able to paint, as Theo provided constant financial support. It just made me think how you never hear about the family of the best artists
  • The first Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1852 but was still born. The Vincent van Gogh we all know was born exactly one year later March 30, 1853. I cannot even imagine seeing (like he did as a child) your own name on a headstone. (you could have heard a pin drop in that theater as the actor went through this section of his story)
  • van Gogh produced over 100 works of art in his last 70 days of life (to more gasps from the audience)
  • a rough outline of van Gogh's life (which was generally fasinating) through his own words -- letters he wrote to people.
  • I wouldn't mind learning even more about this man's life.

Tidbits if I can remember from the Q&A (after the awesome pictures, of course, lol) (note, the people in the picture are (from the far left): the director of the play, the actor (Jean-Michel Richaud), Mr. Nimoy, the artistic director of the theater.
  • This project originally started out as perhaps just a reading of various sections and parts of van Gogh's numerous letters and writings. But as he progressed, he realized he'd need a little exposition there, maybe want to display a picture of van Gogh's there... and it evolved into this play.
  • Mr. Nimoy has performed this play over 150 times himself (what what??) but this is the first time it has been performed in NYC.
  • The actor who performed got involved because he was fascinated by the van Gogh letters and looked around and saw this play existed. So he asked Mr. Nimoy if he could translate it into French so he could perform it in France. Then he decided to bring it to LA...and then to NY. And he asked Mr. Nimoy if he knew of a theater in NY that he might perform it at. "I *do* know of a theater, yes!" Then there were laughs because the theater they were in is called "The Leonard Nimoy Thalia theater" Yes, yes, he does know of a theater.
  • Mr. Nimoy (through the play and his answers) was adamant that van Gogh's brilliance was not due to illness of any kind and that the truth of van Gogh should be through his letters, not speculation.
  • During the Q&A Mr. Nimoy said that Theo had died only 6 months after his brother (to gasps in the audience) and that it was Theo's wife that went about the task of collecting all of Vincent's works of art, scattered everywhere (some were left with renters as collateral for unpaid rent). She's also one that wouldn't allow them to publish his many many letters until years later because she didn't want him to be known as someone who writes about art, but rather as an artist.
  • Mr. Nimoy wrote Vincent over the course of about a year.... but he has no intention of writing another play.
  • In terms of how much is Mr. Nimoy's words and how much were Vincent / Theo's actual words, well Vincent's were all his -- they were actual letters that he's written. And much of Theo's editorial on his brother is drawn from letters, but it wasn't clear exactly how much was more Mr. Nimoy's impressions, not necessarily Theo's.

Q&A 2

Q&A 1

Q&A 3

As I was leaving, the couple in front of me were discussing the van Gogh letters -- saying they need to check to see if the library has them.  I imagine this was exactly what Mr. Nimoy was going for.  :)

Overall, a very enjoyable (and cultured!) evening

1 comment:

  1. That sounds fascinating, Jill!

    Especially this:

    The first Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1852 but was still born. The Vincent van Gogh we all know was born exactly one year later March 30, 1853. I cannot even imagine seeing (like he did as a child) your own name on a headstone.