Hey Kids, Sorry it’s been a while since I posted my Weekly Spock — so here’s a trio! I love all of these and you can read about the first picture here
I ventured to New York City on June 15th to see a limited run of Vincent, the passionate one-man show about the life of Vincent van Gogh, and I am so glad I did!
Vincent takes place a week after van Gogh’s death, his life recalled by his mourning brother, Theo, as he ruffles through a suitcase filled with hundreds of Vincent’s letters.
Written by Leonard Nimoy in the 1970’s, and based on the play Van Gogh by Phillip Stephens, Vincent is an astonishing, fervent piece; a 90 minute, non-stop, bang-bang monologue which left me happy, sad, breathless, and totally satisfied. This production starred Jean-Michel Richaud as Theo, and directed with deft passion by Paul Stein.
Vincent is presented on a simple set, with a wicker desk and a few chairs, an easel with a frame but no canvas, and a small rear monitor to the side which showcases Vincent’s work throughout. Theo enters meekly, thanking the audience for coming, and asks forgiveness for not being able to speak at his brother’s funeral a week earlier. As Theo goes through the letters he alternates between being himself and his brother, often losing himself in Vincent’s passions. It is a brilliant performance that Mr. Richaud delivers with the full intensity of his heart and soul. As Theo relates his memories, we feel the loss, anger, frustration, and joy of his relationship with Vincent. The brother’s time together churned between love and hate, just as the stars and heavens churn in van Gogh’s Starry Night. But it isn’t all sadness; there are many lighter and funnier moments, some of which made me laugh out loud! And surely despite their hardships, the love between them was undeniable.
Mr. Richaud was marvelous, and he totally wraps the audience up in Theo’s remembrances. Early in the show, as we’re told of Vincent’s attempts to be a minister, he impersonates Vincent giving a fiery sermon; all completely in French. This not only showcases Richaud’s heritage, but adds even more to the intensity of the moment where Vincent, ever trying to heal and save his flock, nearly brings the house down. It’s a stunning, exciting moment that, in the original production, was done in English. But even non-French speakers can all the more appreciate the urgency in Vincent’s words with Richaud’s perfect delivery.
We learn that Vincent’s attempt to minister is the first in a long line of the artist’s quest to please people, some unorthodox, but always coupled with the need for acceptance. Theo sifts through the letters trying to figure out Why. In a moment of frenzied frustration, Theo cries “Vincent, will you ever learn to love yourself!?” and he hurls all the letters into the air. It is a stunning moment of despair, but Theo eventually finds solace in knowing that his brother found some peace in the last 70 days of his life, creating piece after piece, as if he knew the end was near. Vincent was happiest with outsiders, prostitutes, prisoners, laborers and eventually found a brief haven of peace in an asylum, where the demons of his Epilepsy could be quelled by his need to create art. His goodbye to Vincent is one of the most beautiful farewells I’ve ever seen on a stage.
I would like to see Vincent make it to Broadway, it certainly deserves that chance. There have been regional productions of it, most recently Mr. Richaud’s in Los Angeles. I think anyone who loves art, passion, and life itself should see it; it is a renewing experience. On a personal note, I found myself keenly identifying with Theo in his grief, as at the time it had only been two weeks since my own mother’s passing, and the play proved to be a bit cathartic to me, and just the tonic I needed to help me through this sad time. (Of course, seeing Nimoy in person afterward was a huge boost to my spirits, but I’ll get to that in a separate post).
Some interesting facts I did not know about Vincent van Gogh:
· * Vincent was born “twice” – that is, an older brother, stillborn exactly one year before Vincent’s birth, was also named Vincent. As a child he would be taken to his brother’s grave every Sunday, which surely affected his spiritual beliefs.
· *Vincent suffered from Epilepsy, and his seizures could produce maddening hallucinations and voices in his head – something that very likely have caused him to sever part of his ear, in a desperate hope of silencing the voices.
· * In the last 70 days of his life, Vincent produced an astonishing of art, often two a day, with a grand total of 100 new pieces at his death.
· *His death may not have been suicide, but accidentally prompted by bullies who taunted him as he was painting in a wheat field which led to the gunshot wound in his abdomen. (Nimoy believes this to be the case now)
· * Heartbroken and ailing, Theo died only 6 months after Vincent.
Quotes from Vincent:
· “A Life without love is a sinful condition. I will not live without love. “
· “I paint what I feel, not what I see.”
· “Love, Beauty, and God are all the same thing.”
· “Did you clean the brushes?”
· “Theo, I wish I could die like this.”
Vincent left me with a greater appreciation of the artist and his work, it also reminded me that creativity is not only a great outlet for one’s art, but also a haven for one’s sanity. If Vincent comes to your town – get right to it! It is truly love of life on a grand scale.
Hey Kids, I’ll be taking a quick one-day trip to NYC tomorrow, to a VERY exciting event that I’m sure I’ll have a full report to you about next week. I think this will help bring me back a little bit more and connect to the world again. Lets just say, I’ll be getting some ‘Spock Therapy’ in real life! See you Monday! -Therese
Here’s some flyers from the 1976 Bi-Centennial 10 Star Trek Convention I’ve mentioned here before, and you can see I checked off (or is that ‘Chekov’ed) all the stars I got to see there and which episodes I was allowed to go down from our hotel room at the Statler Hilton to watch! I remember watching The Day the Earth Stood Still for the first time at that convention; one of my all time favorites! For today and the next few installments, I’ll be recalling my two days at that convention, with memories I’ll never forget! I still have a little journal of it that I wrote in a small memo pad, and I’ll be posting that here; with all it’s teenage awkwardness intact! So stay tuned!
Here’s today’s flashback from 1976. Trek news from the TV Guide ‘teletype’ section, notes on Leonard and Bill, an article from Parade Magazine about a middle-aged ‘Trekkie’ Mom Roberta Rogow, from New Jersey who wrote Trekindex, a fanzine guide to everything Trek, and comments in TV Guide from a fangirl who differentiates Trekkers from Trekkies. The label didn’t really matter to me; just the fact that I was into Trek made me a freak among normals anyway. There are also three fun limericks here from two girls I met at the Star Trek Bicentennial 10 convention in NYC, Barbara Louis and Marie Letiza. Barbara also supplied me with all the articles you’ll find here in pale Xerox grey. ( I had some of her stuff copied for my scrapbooks, it was so nice to know that I wasn’t the only one!) Barbara was a cool chick, with long blond hair and a big smile. I recall not long after the Trek Convention, we kept in touch for a while, and when she and her family were vacationing in nearby Oneonta, my brother, Mom and I drove out to meet them and she and I shared all our Star Trek scrapbook material, sighing over Leonard Nimoy and wondering if a new Trek TV show would really happen. I still have a letter she wrote me where she gushed about seeing actor/singer David Soul (Starsky & Hutch, and one of the red natives in The Apple) in concert, singing his one hit wonder “Don’t Give Up On Us”. Barbara was more a a typical teenager than I, (she even had a boyfriend!) Oh how I envied her! Wonder what she’s up to now? Probably a president of a company.
Here’s today’s flashback; From 1977, Leonard Nimoy got to Broadway as the 5th actor to portray Dr. Martin Dysart in Peter Shaffer’s Equus. The drama was about disturbed young man fanatically obsessed with horses. I bet he was delighted to be on Broadway (his second time, the first in 1973 in Full Circle with Bibi Anderson). and this was the first time I bought an issue of The New York Times just to get some articles! You can see Nimoy’s passion for the theater, and his regrets that he didn’t come to Broadway sooner.
My Mom and two of her friends went to NYC later that year and saw the show! Why oh why didn’t she take me with her? (It’s okay Mom, I’d meet him in 1978!)
Tomorrow: More Equus
Here’s today’s flashback, and a real taste of how Trek fandom had gone crazy! Looks like Trekkies were supporting a good chunk of the American economy, with these two long-gone ‘enterprises’. Imagine, two actual stores completely devoted to Trek merchandise — like a convention ‘huckster’ room every day! Heck, if Star Wars hadn’t come along, these may still be in business!
First, the mail order service STAR TREK GALORE in Longbeach Florida, and then the famous actual storefront FEDERATION TRADING POST in midtown Manhattan; it must have been Trekkie paradise! I could only imagine going there ( I had received these in the mail) and spending the day shopping for buttons, stills, and maybe a set of pointed ears. I can see the owners gleefully rubbing their hands together as the new Trek devotees ate it all up. And how I would have killed to see “The Only Star Trek Museum in the Galaxy!”
Anyone here ever see or hear or know more of these now defunct businesses? Would love to see any other info or pictures… Love the artwork on these .
Today I’ll be sharing the rest of the contents of The Box, including one very special souvenir. As I scratched through the pieces within, I came across several writings I had forgotten about — breathless explanations of events Trek related -the convention of ’76, of course, which I’ll transcribe here later, as my original writing was pretty horrific in both style and execution. There are bus ticket stubs and jotted lists my mother made of what we spent there at the NYC con., and some letters from people I met at various Trek events, and letters from an aunt or two when then found an article related to Trek in their newspapers. It’s fun to see how cheap so many things were then, although they were a big expense to us at the time. I recall it cost us $35 a night to stay a the Statler-Hilton. There were 3 of us, my Mom, sister and me, and it was my first trip ever to NYC. I just wish we took more pictures, as my only equipment at the time was my state-of-the-art pocket old flashcube Instamatic which took the incredibly poor pictures you’ll see here. ( I apologize for the quality; this was the best I could do) I remember that we were on the 33rd floor, and that we had a grand view of the Chrysler Building from our room; oddly at the time I found it somewhat ugly and creepy, but within a couple of years I appreciated it for the glory of deco art it is, and it remains my favorite skyscraper to this day.
Here’s the few pictures of the con that did develop from my crappy camera. First, a Mr. Spock look-alike contest, the winner of which was a guy dressed up as a transporter malfunction! The sign pinned to the guy here says “Is the Transporter fixed yet?” as he also carries his ‘head’. Clever stuff!
Then the celebrities! Almost the entire cast was there, from Shatner to Koenig, only Nimoy and Majel Barrett couldn’t make it. We saw all the stars that came, but my camera was so crappy that only a few pictures developed. Here’s James Doohan and George Takei.
Doohan was newly a father and talked at length about the Lamaze method that he and his wife used to deliver the baby; interesting, but probably not what the fans wanted to hear. He also sang and jigged a little to “Roamin’ in the Gloamin”, a song my mother (embarrassingly) insisted that I ask him to sing! But he was a a good sport about it, and I remember him walking up and down the aisles of the auditorium to ‘touch hands’ with the enamored thrall.
Takei was happy and bright, in a powder blue leisure suit, although at the moment I can’t recall anything he said. I think he was asked about an audition he made for a silly sitcom called “Mr. T. and Tina”, glad he didn’t get that one, for it’s hardly the stuff of TV legend.
Leisure suits were the uniform of the day- that hideous melt-able double knit polyester garb that almost every male wore. I recall Shatner wore a dark blue one, De Kelly wore a black with a wild orange and white floral print shirt under it, and Doohan wisely opted out of a jacket, just wearing beige trousers and a white shirt instead. But every male celeb had huge lapels and wide bell bottoms.(God the 70’s were atrocious) The convention had a lot of fun events, from art shows (I was heart broken I couldn’t enter my home made bust of Mr. Spock), the endless dealer room with oodles of Trek merchandise, to the wildly popular episode and blooper showings, and, of course, autograph sessions, which were FREE — something you never get anymore.
But speaking of autographs, the box contains the ultimate prize of my youthful fandom, and I only had to wait a couple of years after the con to get it; Nimoy’s autograph. I got to meet Mr. Nimoy on February 18, 1978 after a splendid lecture he gave in nearby Elmira NY. But since we FORGOT THE CAMERA that fateful night, I hung on to the pen he signed my copy of I Am Not Spock with; a purple Flair fine point! (made in the USA!) Good ol’ Flair, and no one has used it since Mr. Nimoy.
Then the piece de résistance. There inside the front cover my well- thumbed paper-backed edition of I Am Not Spock are 7 little words that made me so happy:
“To Therese, thank you! Leonard Nimoy, ’78.
And why was Mr. Nimoy so grateful to a giddy 16 year old girl that night? Well, get your mind out of the gutter and I’ll explain this, along with a couple of photos, in a future post!