Van Gogh Find Yourself


I am taking my new best friend Vincent Van Gogh to the gala for mental health at the Pleasance tonight.    We met on the mile in the first week of the Fringe.

Please note:  This is a post from the 2016 Festival.


Van Gogh Find Yourself Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Vincent on the Mile

His show Van Gogh Find Yourself is at the Natural Food Kafe.   If you’re looking for a quiet, even reflective afternoon hour,  it’s just around the corner from Summerhall at 2.30.   It’s on the Free Fringe, in the very cosy basement of the cafe,  and if it gets any (deservedly) good reviews  it will fill out pretty fast.

The show is by the New York based actor and writer Walter Michael DeForest, and he’s worked on it a couple of years.  It is based on the Letters of Vincent and Theo van Gogh  – I bought a copy on a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but never opened it – and the Memoirs of Vincent’s Stay in Auvers-sur-Oise by Adeline Ravoux.

He launches it in character on a Q & A basis, asking the audience what they know about him.  It worked very nicely when I saw it; very quickly the audience were going beyond the cliched facts and learning far more of Van Gogh’s life, the symptoms and treatment of his mental illness, in a style that is gentle, insightful,  and entertaining.

In this intimate setting, it became a back-and-forth with the audience, bending with the wind, even navigating a bumptious ten-year-old, which can always enliven the proceedings.   Van Gogh, meanwhile, sketches away, jokingly handing out his pictures for a million or two here and there.    (Walter’s art, from a critical point of view,  is perhaps not his strongest point…)

Vincent’s message for today, as we arrange our rendezvous:  “It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. ”

I was planning to do a full-blown expressionist portrait of him, in pastels, with potentially disastrous results.   In the meantime, some photographs of his show, a little pixillated through the zoom, and the four pencil sketches I made during it, with his permission.   They kept looking like a whiskery Ho Chi Minh, though I struggled in the later two to square up his face a little.