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Arts in The News: Van Gogh Film Released, Opinions of Non-Theatergoers and more

Full Trailer for Hand-Painted Van Gogh Film Released

In anticipation of the long-awaited the hand-painted film, “Loving Vincent,” about post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, a trailer for stunning biopic has been released. Set to be the first entirely hand-painted feature film ever made, “Loving Vincent” has already been seven years in the making, a collaboration of 125 artists who worked to transform 120 of van Gogh’s paintings into 65,000 painted frames based on live action sequences. Notable stars in the film include Chris O’Dowd, Saoirse Ronan, and Aidan Turner, among others. The film itself is a mystery, revolving around the sudden death of the famous painter in 1890; viewers follow a detective who traces van Gogh’s steps, revisiting his paintings in the hopes of uncovering an explanation for the artist’s supposed suicide. The film reportedly does not come to a definite conclusion, leaving the reasons for van Gogh’s sudden demise up for debate. Interested in seeing a film that is truly the first of its kind? “Loving Vincent” hits theaters on September 22nd!

Award-Winning Show Closes Amid Casting Controversy

Despite being nominated for twelve Tony Awards, Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” is set to close in the wake of a casting controversy around diversity concerns, less than one year since its premiere. The musical is based on a section of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” about 70 pages in length. While Josh Groban originally led the cast, he was eventually replaced with “Hamilton” actor Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who was in turn set to be replaced by Mandy Patinkin only three weeks later. Theater fans and many in the Broadway community expressed outrage at Patinkin’s casting, arguing that the move was racially motivated. Patinkin subsequently dropped out, explaining on Twitter that he was not aware of the circumstances around his being hired. Soon after Onaodowan announced his final performance would be in mid-August, producers announced the show’s final performance the first week of September. The musical’s short-lived run certainly demonstrates the power of audience and industry opinion and how controversy can be deadly for even critically-acclaimed shows.

Theater Seeks Opinions of Non-Theatergoers

The York Theatre Royal in the UK has launched a rather nontraditional initiative: a new program, the “Visionari scheme,” seeks the opinions of not only frequent theater-goers but also “non-theatre attendees.” The resulting advisory group will spend a year learning about theater through workshops led by the venue’s staff; subsequently, they will advise on programming decisions at the theater. Associate producer John Tomlinson explains the unorthodox decision to include non-theater-goers: “One of the exciting challenges with this is for us to engage with those who don’t necessarily go to the theatre to have an influence. We want to widely and openly invite non-theatergoers to take part….Over the coming years, the group will be expanded to ensure that we genuinely reflect the wider community.” Those applying to become part of the advisory group must commit for a minimum of two years and will receive a free membership to the theater for the first year. It will certainly be interesting to see how the initiative progresses and what sort of changes result from this unique advisory group!

Museum Exhibit Stepped On and Restored in Same Day

The staff at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels had quite a long day one Wednesday in mid-August: a museum visitor unknowingly walked into and damaged a work in the Yves Klein exhibition while approaching another work in the gallery space. The visitor walked on “Pigment bleu sec” (“Dry Blue Pigment”), a shallow wooden basin covered with sand and the artist’s signature matte blue pigment, “International Klein Blue,” leaving white footprints on the work, and blue footprints on the floor. The museum reportedly has multiple safety measures, including warning signs, a partial barrier, and a guard, to protect against such accidental damage. A museum spokeswoman explains that somehow “the man was too fascinated [with the other work] to notice all of that.” The nature of the work made the damage fixable: “Pigment bleu sec,” first conceived sixty years ago, is assembled with new sand and pigment each time it is shown. In this case, that meant the damage was “not the same as damage to a ‘unique piece,'” explains the same museum spokeswoman. The museum staff was able to re-assemble the work the same day, barely missing a beat. Earlier this year, a visitor to a museum in Nice accidentally walked on a similar Klein piece. The incident in Brussels certainly highlights the amazingly efficient response of museum staff; hopefully, it also reminds museum-goers to be aware of their surroundings, even among the most breathtaking exhibits!

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