Williamstown actor Jim Briggs has chosen a most ingenious play about artist Vincent Van Gogh for his greatest challenge. Having retired from a distinguished career as a lawyer, Briggs returns to the stage to take on the one-man show Vincent, a work that truly delivers the vibrantcy of Van Gogh’s “shooting-comet of a life”. The play as written by Leonard Nimoy is intimate, sincere and most convincing in its portrayal of Vincent and his brother, Theo. An independent production under the direction of Brant Pope, it promises to sweep away the myths and mists surrounding the great artist’s alleged insanity and early death. It is the sort of theatrical outing that belongs at its host venue, Barrington Stage Company.
Vincent will run December 14 through 30 at the St. Germain Stage located on the upper level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield. Opening night is Friday, December 14 at 8pm.
“It’s really interesting because most of the play is done from the point of view of Vincent’s brother, Theo, who was really the person who supported Vincent for a lot of his adult life. He’s kind of a forgotten soul, but he was such an integral part of Vincent’s life. They wrote hundreds of letters back and forth. That’s where this play comes from, the letters. It’s neat because you have the actual words written by Vincent van Ggoh himself and his brother. I get to speak those words.” – Jim Briggs interviewed in iBerkshires
The passion, the love and the tormented beauty of the life of artist Vincent van Gogh is dramatized in this one-man play, which actor/author Leonard Nimoy adapted from letters written by the artist to his brother, Theo van Gogh. Theo is the principal character of the play and he struggles to convince a gathering of friends and colleagues that his brother was not, in fact, a lunatic or a madman.
James Briggs stars in this one-man performance that movingly reveals Vincent van Gogh as few knew him. Based on more than 500 letters exchanged between van Gogh and his brother Theo, the play examines the passion and torment of the extraordinary artist’s life and death as seen through his brother’s eyes. As van Gogh’s paintings are projected in the background, Briggs becomes both Theo van Gogh and Vincent in this compelling, touching portrayal.
The Director, Dr. Brant Pope, has a thirty-year career in both academic and professional theatre and has directed over one hundred productions. He is the chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin and is holder of the Z .T. Scott Family Chair. He has directed at such theatres as The John Houseman Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and Park Square Theatre. For eleven years, he served as director of the FSU Asolo Conservatory, and associate artistic director of the Asolo Theatre Company in Sarasota, Florida.
The design team includes James Briggs (sets), Scott Pinkney (lights) and Barbara Pope (costumes). Christopher Donovan is production stage manager.
In Vincent van Gogh’s lifetime, he sold only one painting, for four hundred francs. His critics labeled his work “madness” in which “blood and fire appear to have usurped the place of color.” But Vincent van Gogh’s story is so much more than that of “the talented madman who cut off his own ear.” His life was one of great passions, and even greater turmoil, ultimately ending in suicide one summer day in 1890.
Williamstown resident James Briggs is the founder of Starry Night Theater Company. He most recently played Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama (2012) in Lake George, New York. Other representative roles include Max in Lend Me a Tenor (Sun Valley Repertory Theatre), David Gamut in Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama (2011), Professor Fenton in Bullshot Crummond (Sun Valley Repertory Theatre), John Trott in The Man of Mode (Asolo Repertory Theatre), and Peter (understudy) in The Heidi Chronicles (Asolo Repertory Theatre). Jim also played Larry in the feature film, Hidden Fears and has played supporting roles in The Williamstown Theater Festival’s production ofThe Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui and the Potomac Theater Project’s production of The Castle. Jim is a graduate of Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory in Sarasota. Asolo Conservatory roles include Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, Gus in The Dumbwaiter, Carl in Bus Stop, Eddie Brock in Born Yesterday and Du Croissy in Les Precieuses Ridicules. Jim also studied theater at Middlebury College in Vermont. Between roles, Jim attended Boston College Law School and spent many years as a practicing attorney in Boston, Pittsfield and Williamstown, Massachusetts. He recently retired from the law to return to his first passion, the theater.
Performances of Vincent will take place at Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage (formerly Stage 2) located on the upper level of the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, from December 14 through 30. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm; Friday and Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 4pm; with matinees Saturday, December 22 and 29 at 4pm. Tickets are $30. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Barrington Stage Box Office at 413-236-8888 or visit www.barringtonstageco.org.