The man behind the art: Van Gogh

Grade: B

Jim Jarrett, the star of Leonard Nimoy's play "Vincent," gave a stirring performance on Friday night in Emens Auditorium. Jarrett starred in the one man play as Theo Van Gogh, the brother of Vincent Van Gogh.

The play began with a simple stage setting that included an easel, a painter's smock and a cherry oak table with papers and letters scattered upon it.

As the play began, a bell tolled and the lights dimmed. Jarrett stepped out of the darkness, looked out over the audience and then spoke.

"Thank you for coming," he said. "Last week my brother died, and there was so much to say, I could not speak."

With his next words, he set the tone for the entire play. "Vincent was a lover; a lover of God, of love and of art, and he thought he failed at all three."

Such was the atmosphere of the play, Jarrett telling the story of Vincent's life and death. During the show, there was no music, only Jarrett, the voice of both Vincent and Theo. Theo told of Vincent's life, several of Vincent's early sketches and later his paintings.

At the age of 27, Vincent gave up his life as a preacher in the mines and turned to painting. Before he could devote his life to painting, he first fell in love. More than falling in love with a person, or even a passion, he fell in love with love.

"His life and love are one," Theo said, "One disaster after another, and that was perfect for him."

Then Theo began to describe how Vincent abandoned all to paint and would live on bread and cheese to save money to buy canvases.

"Vincent painted and struggled, and painted and studied, and painted," Theo said about a 10-year period of Vincent's life when all he did was paint.

During those years Vincent studied under an artist who inspired him, but in one night, after one fight too bitter to resurrect a friendship, he chased the artist out of his house with a razor. That night he went home, cut off his ear, wrapped it and gave it to a prostitute.

While Jarrett explained the reasons behind this well-known assault on himself, an understanding of Vincent seemed to seep through the audience. Jarrett ended the first act by asking, "When will you learn to love yourself?"

In the second act, Theo described the last year of Vincent was alive as both the best and worst times of his life. He painting out of the darkness. It was during that time in his life that he lived in an asylum.

"He could paint two beautiful canvases a day," Jarrett said solemnly. "In the last year of his life he produced 200 works."

With that, the house went black and, for the first time during the show, sweet music filled the house. The picture frame began to show replicas of Vincent's well-known paintings. When "Starry Night" was displayed, a murmur came over the auditorium as audience members whispered, "That's Starry Night."

Following the display of paintings, Theo began to describe Vincent's death. Vincent shot himself when he went out in to the field to paint, then struggled back to town and died in his brothers arms, just as he had hoped for.

Theo finished his presentation by saying he was his own brother. When the show ended and Jarrett came back on stage, one elderly woman stood giving respect to Jarret and his performance.

Overall, the show was very thought-provoking. As Jarrett promised, the show can be inspiring for some to seek out and live their dreams, however, this doesn't hold true for everyone.


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