Symphony Space to Present Leonard Nimoy's VINCENT, 6/14-15

Symphony Space to Present Leonard Nimoy's VINCENT, 6/14-15

On Friday, June 14 (7:30 pm) and Saturday, June 15 (3 pm and 8:30 pm), Symphony Space presents Leonard Nimoy's acclaimed drama, Vincent, directed by Paul Stein and performed by Jean-Michel Richaud. The solo show takes place in Symphony Space's Leonard Nimoy Thalia; a post-show conversation with Mr. Nimoy follows each performance. Tickets are $30, $25 for members, and $15 for 30 and under (with valid ID), available at www.symphonyspace.org.

Vincent begins a few short days after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, as rumors of his death are flying around Paris. As many dismiss the artist as a penniless madman, a frequenter of prostitutes, and a soon to be forgotten painter of trifling quality who took his own life in a moment of insanity, his brother Theo (Jean-Michel Richaud) tells his own version of the story in an attempt to set the record straight.

Nimoy based his drama on the hundreds of letters written by Vincent to Theo, which form a gripping account of the painter's struggle to master his art and survive in the face of financial hardship and critical indifference. Says Nimoy, "In my research, I found a letter that Theo had written to his mother after Vincent's death. The mother was ill and unable to travel, so Theo described the funeral and told his mother that while others spoke at the service, he himself was too overcome with grief and was unable to express himself. From this I built the idea that Theo was now wanting to say some things about his brother, and had invited this audience to come and hear his story."

With Nimoy in the title role, Vincent was first presented in 1981 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It was extremely well received by audiences and critics alike, and Nimoy subsequently toured 35 cities, giving 150 performances as a Guthrie Theater presentation. The production was taped at the Guthrie for the A&E television network, and is still available through Paramount Home Video.

Years later, actor Jean-Michel Richaud wrote Nimoy of how much he enjoyed the work, and asked for permission to translate a portion of the text into French for a production he planned to mount. The two developed a creative relationship that has led to a new and vibrant life for the play, with Richaud in the title role. Though Nimoy is no longer performing the work himself, he calls it "a great source of pleasure to know that Vincent lives through the performances of talented actors."

Reviewing a recent performance, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "As performed by French-born actor Jean-Michel Richaud, this insightful and often moving 1981 solo show penned by Leonard Nimoy transcends the usual clichés surrounding the high-maintenance artist with the tortured relationship to his aural appendage.

"Nimoy knows from ears, of course, but his script looks beyond merely sensational biographical episodes to the unifying themes in three principal facets of Vincent's adult life: God, love and art. As Theo admits during an imaginary tribute conducted a week after his brother's death, Vincent pursued all three with perhaps an overdeveloped sense of drama, but always with passion.

"Weaving Theo's reminiscences with excerpts from more than 500 letters Vincent wrote him, the monologue covers Vincent's failed attempt to become a preacher, his doomed efforts at romantic relationships and his discovery of his true calling as a painter... Paul Stein's staging complements the unfolding narrative with well-chosen images of Van Gogh's paintings, particularly the self-portraits that chronicle the artist's losing battle with a world in which he could not accept compromise."


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