Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Another Look at Van Gogh Actor Drawn to Nimoy's Play 'Vincent' by Its Challenges

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Another Look at Van Gogh Actor Drawn to Nimoy's Play 'Vincent' by Its Challenges

Article excerpt

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The late Leonard Nimoy will always be Mr. Spock to the legions of "Star Trek" fans, but he branched out in many creative directions - not only as a stage and film actor, but as a poet, photographer and playwright.

There's a chance to see his work as the latter this weekend, when the Carnegie Museum of Art presents Mr. Nimoy's "Vincent," a play about Vincent Van Gogh as seen through the eyes of the painter's brother Theo. "Vincent" is being presented in conjunction with the museum's "Visiting Van Gogh: Still Life, Basket of Apples" exhibit.

Like Mr. Nimoy, there was much more to Van Gogh's life than most of his contemporaries saw, and "Vincent" sets out to bring the truth to light. The play unfolds through Theo's memories and through Van Gogh's own words, which are taken directly from his letters to his brother.

The play takes place several days after Vincent's death. Theo was too distraught to speak at the memorial, and instead voices his feelings about his brother later, debunking the image of Vincent as a mad man who cut off his own ear, and later ended his own life, "He was different ... And you are blessed by that difference, for he gave you beauty," Theo says.

After his TV run as Spock, Mr. Nimoy was working the lecture circuit, where college-aged audiences were eager to hear more about his "Star Trek" days. At the time, he was looking for a one-person show that would engage him creatively and spiritually. He found it in "Van Gogh," a play written by Phillip Stephens. He bought the rights, reshaped the play and added new material. The 1978 Sacramento, Calif., premiere of "Vincent" was followed by an invitation to perform it at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis: That sell-out performance turned into a three-year run of 150 performances in 35 cities.

Actor James Briggs is playing the Theo/Vincent role here. …

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