Enigmatic, tortured by mental illness and virtually unknown during his lifetime, the persona of Vincent Willem Van Gogh has fascinated the world since the Dutch artist known for his vivid brushstrokes died in 1890. He's been the subject of books, songs and movies like Kirk Douglas classic Lust for Life and Robert Altman's Vincent and Theo. Van Gogh's legacy reminds us of the sacrifice, authenticity and dogged self-determination that an artist needs to achieve greatness while reminding us that we don't necessarily know if said greatness will be acknowledged while we are living or live on after we're gone.
To further explore Van Gogh's conundrum, you don't have to read books about him, see the movies or visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. You can opt to see Jobsite Theater's new production and the last of its record-breaking 2013-14 season. Inventing Van Gogh explores the life and identity struggles of an artist while conjuring a visit by the legendary Dutchman.
A review in the DC Theatre Scene says that playwright Steven Dietz slips in some witty jabs at the modern art world in his heady, surreal drama. Reflecting on art, commerce and the creative psyche, the play acquaints us with painter Patrick Stone (Steve Fisher, in his Jobsite debut), who has been commissioned to forge van Gogh’s legendary final masterpiece, and the ear-lopping ginger himself (Jordan Foote, a recent transplant who’s making his Tampa Bay debut) pays a visit to wreak some psychological havoc.
Other artists from the past pop in — Ned Averill-Snell as both Rene Bouchard and artist Paul Gaugin, Nicole Jeannine Smith as Haley and Marguerite, and Greg Thompson as Drs. Miller and Gachet.
Stageworks Artistic Director and frequent collaborator Karla Hartley directs. Staged in the Shimberg Playhouse of the Straz Center, Tampa. Preview tickets available for tonight's show for $14 and the show opens officially tomorrow and runs through Aug. 3 (tickets $28 for regular-priced seats).