Berkshire resident Jim Briggs to give “Vincent” its Off-Broadway debut April 1

James Briggs plays Vincent van Gogh.

James Briggs plays Vincent van Gogh.

Thanks to Williamstown resident Jim Briggs, Vincent, Leonard Nimoy’s play about artist Vincent van Gogh will have its Off-Broadway premiere from April 1 through June 5 at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 W 46th Street. Opening night is Thursday, April 7 at 7pm.

The passion, the love and the tormented beauty of the life of artist Vincent van Gogh is dramatized by legendary actor/author Leonard Nimoy (who passed away February 27, 2015), based on the play Van Gogh by Phillip Stephens. Originally performed by Mr. Nimoy himself, this production stars James Briggs, who has toured the country to popular acclaim for three years in the title role.

Inspired by 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, who has performed the play more than 100 times around the country, becomes both Theo van Gogh and Vincent in this compelling, touching portrayal.

Today, Vincent van Gogh is one of the most recognizable and beloved painters. In Van Gogh’s lifetime, however, he sold only one painting and critics labeled his work madness. His story, however, is so much more than that of the misunderstood genius who cut off his own ear. In this play, Vincent’s brother, Theo, movingly reveals Vincent as few knew him. After Vincent’s death, Theo defends Vincent’s legacy at a gathering of friends and colleagues; an actual historic event. Theo, however, is not interested in telling the small story of the demise of one man. Rather, he argues the bigger meaning and significance of his brother’s life to all humankind. As seen through the eyes of Theo, Vincent van Gogh lives on as a symbol of inspiration, courage, passion, and the lust for life that art kindles in all of us.

Playwright Leonard Nimoy first performed on stage at age eight, working through his teens in various amateur productions. His film debut came in 1951, when he landed a small part in Queen for a Day. In 1952, he had his first lead, in Kid Monk Baroni. After a two-year stint in the Army, he went back to work in feature films, television, and theater.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Nimoy appeared on many television shows, including Wagon Train, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Rawhide, Perry Mason, and Combat. He spent two years on the Mission: Impossible series and appeared in a number of television movies, including A Woman Called Golda, for which he received an Emmy nomination. But it was Nimoy’s starring role in the science-fiction series Star Trek that gained him worldwide recognition. His portrayal of the Vulcan science officer Spock earned him three Emmy nominations. Later in his career, Nimoy would use the franchise to step into the director’s chair, helming the films Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He also executive produced Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Additional directorial credits include The Good Mother, Three Men and a Baby, Funny About Love, and Holy Matrimony.

Nimoy has starred in numerous stage productions, including Camelot, The Man in the Glass Booth, Twelfth Night, Oliver, and a record-setting tour in Fiddler on the Roof. He performed the title role of Sherlock Holmes in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s national tour, and appeared in starring roles on Broadway in Equus and Full Circle. With Vincent, a one-man play he wrote, performed, produced, and directed, Nimoy toured 35 cities in the United States. He eventually taped the play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis for broadcast on the A&E Network.
Nimoy has written three volumes of poetry and recorded ten narrative albums. In 1975, he published an autobiography entitled I Am Not Spock. After a 20-year gestation period, he wrote a sequel entitled I Am Spock, which he refers to as “coming to terms” with his alter ego. His performance of the audio version was nominated for a Grammy Award. In recent years, Nimoy’s black-and-white art photography has been exhibited in galleries and museums from coast to coast.

Dr. Brant Pope, the director, 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 play includes over 100 stunning high-resolution projections of Vincent’s artwork on a large screen. The design team includes James Briggs (sets), Scott Pinkney (lights) and Barbara Pope (costumes). Christopher Shane Donovan is production manager. Lisa Dozier King is general manager.

Williamstown, MA, 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 Williamstown Theater Festival’s production of The Resistible 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.

Performances of Vincent will take place at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, from April 1 – June 5, 2016. Opening Night is April 7. at 7pm. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm (there is a 7pm performance on Tuesday, April 5), Friday and Saturday at 8pm; with matinees Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $59, premium seating also available. To purchase tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or online at http://www.starrynighttheater.com.

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