Theo Van Gogh worked with the Somali-born writer and politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to produce the short film, Submission (2004), which exposed the treatment of women, and resulted in an outrage from the Dutch Muslim community. He was murdered in November of 2004. Natalie Menna’s play, COMMITTED, explores the inevitable tragedy when artistic radical temperament collides with religious and political realities. Can friendship, family, or love save Theo from his biggest threat — himself?”
The cast features Brad Fryman as Van Gogh.
We met with Brad for a few moments over the long weekend to hear about the project from the POV of Fryman.
Tell us about yourself as an artist/artisan.
My name is Brad Fryman. I will be playing Theo Van Gogh. I’ve been in NYC acting since the 90’s and these off-off Broadway productions have been nourishing my artistic appetite all the while. It’s a thrill and terrifying to get to take this ride. As artistic director at Oberon Theatre, where we’ve produced 57 plays over the years, I am fully aware of the battle it is to get anything onstage and I am continually impressed by these similar nonprofit companies who take serious risks and make theatre happen.
When dealing with topical dramas like this – especial such a hot topic – do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility in conveying the play’s message?
This is a historical fiction showing us the final days of Theo Van Gogh’ s life. Theo, Vincent’s great grand nephew, was a provocateur filmmaker who often took on religious extremists along with many other people. One of the most exciting things we get to do as actors is study and research incredible people, things and events. It’s one thing to read something, but to try to get into these people’s heads, both real and invented, is an awesome thing. I only knew the surface of what Theo had done and what had happened to him and the importance it has or should have on modern society. I say should have because if we don’t consider the past we are likely to repeat it, as they say.
What role does independent theater play in the New York art scene ?
As I mentioned before, independent theatre people are now the risk-takers and innovators and still feed what we see on Broadway and off. I still wonder how we could have nourished it a little better and opened the doors for these tourists coming to town. We are constantly fighting for audiences and finding it very difficult to take on the Broadway marketing machines. I always envisioned the tourist industry making off-off Broadway a destination because such exciting work happens there. Oh, that’s for another interview.
I think Theo Van Gogh may be one of them. It terrifies me. That’s one thing a dream role should probably do and it excites me which is another thing a dream role should definitely do. And speaking of that, I better get back to my script. We have a ton of work to do.
Thanks so much for your time.
THE ALTRUISTIC THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS COMMITTED
written by Natalie Menna and directed by Brock Harris Hill – a fictionalized account of the last two days of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. Theatre at the 14th Street Y, 344 E 14th St, New York City Friday, September 8 @ 7:30PM; Saturday, September 9 @ 7:30PM; Thursday, September 14 @ 7:30PM; Friday, September 15 @ 7:30PM; Saturday, September 16 @ 7:30PM; Sunday, September 17 @ 5:00PM; Tuesday, September 19 @ 7:30PM; and Saturday, September 23 @ 7:30PM.