'Inventing Van Gogh' to take center stage

By Ajay Davis | October 1, 2019 10:39am

Rene Bouchard, played by sophomore Aidan Brown (left), offers Hallie Miller, played by senior Riley Olson, a cigarette.

Media Credit: Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

This week, the theatre department’s first mainstage show of the season, “Inventing Van Gogh” by Steven Dietz, will journey into the tormented mind of an artistic genius. The production is a haunting drama centered around the relationships between art, love and obsession. With a five-person cast, the play will be thematically and dialogue-driven, providing an intimate experience for the audience. 

The production will be put on Oct. 2-5 at 7:30 p.m. and October 6 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors, however admission is free for students on Wednesday and Thursday. They can be purchased at the box office in the lobby of the Mago Hunt Center.

Seniors Ankit Madhira (left) and Sam Baldwin (right) play Vincent van Gogh and Patrick Stone, respectively.

by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

The play centers around Patrick, a disgruntled artist who has not been able to complete a painting for three years since the death of his mentor. However, when he is hired to forge a long-lost Vincent Van Gogh painting which the artist was thought to have painted right before his suicide, Patrick is sent spiraling into the conflict between reality and imagination.

Senior Sam Baldwin, who plays Patrick, finds the play to be unique because of its complexity.

“I think it keeps the audience engaged because of all the different topics it brings up. If you like art, if you like romance, if you like family drama — there’s all of that,” said Baldwin. “It does a really good job of showing how art and relationships are intertwined. It's definitely not just for people who have a degree in art history.”

Vincent van Gogh, played by senior Ankit Madhira, poses his model Marguerite Gachet, played by senior Riley Olson.

by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

Andrew Golla will direct the performance. He thinks the play is relevant to a wide audience because of its introspection into shared human experience.

“The fact that it’s abstract and non-linear in terms of the timeline makes it different, and it’s about obsession which we can all identify with,” Golla said. “It looks at where the line is drawn between passion and obsession because many people never really know until they’re far past that line. In that way, it's kind of an experience we can all understand as human beings.”

The play was designed to have only a five-person cast who play eight characters. Because of this, three actors will be playing two characters each. Senior Riley Olson, who plays both Hallie and Marguerite, enjoys the change in pace that comes with playing two characters.

“I love small cast shows like this because of the really tight relationships that you get with all of your castmates,” Olson said. “You’re spending a lot of time together through the production process, and the fun part is that in playing multiple characters, I get to interact with the same people as different personalities, so I have more than one relationship with the same actor.”

Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at davisaj22@up.edu.