Each week the expert staff of the renowned Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, just seconds away from Broadway, recommends one play that's new, interesting, or just flat-out fantastic. This week they’ve chosen two! Picking the best of published work, they help keep us up to date and aware of the little known, broadening our horizons and encouraging dialogue. Order a play from The Drama Book Shop, read it, and e-mail them with your thoughts–they'd love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS:
Vincent in Brixton by Nicholas Wright and Inventing Van Gogh by Steven Dietz
It is nothing new to say that Vincent van Gogh was a complex, greatly troubled man. But these two plays look deeply into Van Gogh at two different stages and together compliment, enrich, and bring to life Vincent, the human.
Vincent in Brixton by British playwright Nicholas Wright focuses on Vincent before he drew his first sketch. It depicts a young man, someone full of life yet struggling to find his way and to walk the artist's path. While living in a boarding house, Vincent develops a relationship with a troubled older woman named Ursula. Wright understands that the most important aspect of a relationship between people, or even painter and art, is the shared experience of the soul. In Vincent in Brixton, he uses Van Gogh’s experiences with Ursula to illustrate this point; it is she who inspires Vincent to live and to paint with passion.
In the preface of Inventing Van Gogh, American playwright Steven Dietz quotes Van Gogh himself: Exaggerate the essential; leave the obvious vague. Dietz then applies this idea to the structure and setting of the play, which shifts fluidly between the 1880s – the later years of Van Gogh’s life – and the present day – where a modern painter struggles to forge a copy of the master’s final self-portrait. Dietz's Van Gogh takes Wright's depiction to the next level: his Van Gogh is dramatically troubled, bursting at the seams, and begging for life to come off of the page. In Inventing Van Gogh, both the artist’s contemporaries and present-day art enthusiasts agree: Van Gogh, a man obsessed with painting his own image, was searching for some greater connection to the soul.
Taken together, these plays have made me obsessed with Vincent Van Gogh. Inventing Van Gogh is incredibly theatrical and dramatic, especially in how Dietz handles the suicide (I'll say no more). Vincent in Brixton is beautifully sensual and touching. Both have left me craving more, wanting to fully understand the man who created a unique form of painting. Though these portraits indicate how hard it might be to obtain that goal, I have not been as inspired from reading a play recently as I have by these two.
Characters: Vincent in Brixton: 2 M, 3 W. Inventing Van Gogh: 4 M, 1 W.(mid to late 20's)
Scenes/Monologues: Wonderful scenes and monologues in both plays!
Recommended by: Abi
Vincent in Brixton
(Nick Hern Books)
by Wright, Nicholas
Format: Trade Paperback
Published: Nick Hern Books, 2003
Inventory Status: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
A dramatization of the time that Van Gogh spent in Brixton in the 1870s-a period before he became a painter and one that changed him completely. Vincent develops a rapport with a widow twice his age, which blossoms into a full-blown love affair, only to be cruelly curtailed by the arrival of his fiercely puritan young sister. From the author "of Cressida, Mrs. Klein, " and the recent adaptation of Wedekind's "Lulu."
Inventing Van Gogh
(Paperback) by Steven Dietz
PLAY (Drama, Full Length). THE STORY: A haunting and hallucinatory drama about the making of art, INVENTING VAN GOGH is the story of the final van Gogh self-portrait, painted just before the artist's death, which has never been seen?until now. Patrick Stone, a contemporary painter, is hired to forge this final masterpiece?and finds himself squaring off, across the years, with van Gogh himself. The result is a compelling mystery about the obsession to create and the fine line that separates truth from myth. Cast: 4 men, 1 woman: 5 total
Publisher : Dramatists Play Service
Published : 02/01/2004
Format : Paperback
ISBN-10 : 0822219549
ISBN-13 : 9780822219545
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