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Vincent Van Gogh Comes Alive On Stage

Livingston resident Ed Schiff pens one-man play at various locales in Essex County.

Vincent Van Gogh moves from the easel to the stage for a one-man show starting this weekend.

"A Eulogy for Vincent" was created by Livingston resident Ed Schiff as a way to honor the Dutch artist and educate others about his complicated life, his struggles with mental health issues and relative obscurity during his lifetime. 

While Van Gogh created more than 2,000 paintings, watercolors, drawings and sketches - including notable pieces such as "The Starry Night" and "Irises" - he sold only one painting during his lifetime "The Red Vineyard," for 400 francs.

Van Gogh died at age 37 from a bullet wound in an alleged suicide, although a new 2011 book, "Van Gogh: The Life" says two teenage boys may have shot him.  

Schiff said he's been intrigued by the artist since he was a child after seeing Kirk Douglas portray him in the movie "Lust for Life." Schiff said he started writing the play two years ago and has modified it over the years for different audiences and as more information about Van Gogh comes out in the news.

Schiff said he based much of his play on the letters Vincent Van Gogh sent his brother, Theo Van Gogh, an art dealer who helped financially support his older sibling. 

Schiff said he admired Van Gogh for his resilience for overcoming abuse from his father and dealing with epilepsy and possible autism or Asperger's syndrome to become a visionary artist.  

In the show, the artist is portrayed by actor Brendan Walsh, of Livingston and Lyndhurst. "All I can say is it is a difficult role but the richness of both Theo and Vincent Van Gogh's lives  have made this a fulfilling challenging rich life for me on stage," Walsh wrote in an e-mail.

"A Eulogy for Vincent is not only educational, it's inspirational and funny," Schiff said. "It's an exciting, dramatic piece, so that's why we've been entertaining audiences from 12 years old up to senior citizens who become enthralled by it." 

"A Eulogy for Vincent" will be performed 2 p.m. Sunday at the West Caldwell Public Library, 30 Clinton Road, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Livingston Public Library, 10 Robert Harp Dr., 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the Apples and Oranges Production office, 129 Grove St., Montclair and 8 p.m. March 6 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown. 

All shows are free, except for the one at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, where tickets are $20 per person. 

For more information about the play, call (917) 733-6940, email moeds3277@aol.com or visit its website.


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