Joseph Heller, who wrote “Catch-22,” said of his friend Mario Puzo, who wrote “The Godfather,” that “he never asked a favor, and he never refused a request.” I admire that. I don’t ask for favors… for myself. But I’m asking one now — for a theater.
Last year I stumbled onto a fantastic but little known story about the most beloved artist of the last century.
In 1942, Henri Matisse was 72 years old, living in Nice, France, and recovering from serious surgery. To care for him at night, he hired a 21-year-old nursing student, Monique Bourgeois. Their friendship was instant and powerful — until Matisse learned she was leaving to become a nun.
Five years later, Matisse had moved to Vence, a small village in the hills. So had Monique — but now she was Sister Jacques-Marie. Her convent prayed in a leaky garage. Would Matisse design a stained-glass window so they could raise money for improvements?
Matisse had a better idea. In an expression of his love and appreciation, he created the Chapel at Vence, which he called the masterpiece of his career.
This story had everything I like in a play. High-stakes emotional drama. Two great parts. A stunning ending. Was it already a play? Incredibly, it wasn’t. So… I wrote it.
The Vantage Theatre in San Diego will launch “The Color of Light” in January. They’re champions of new plays, original ideas and innovative staging — they don’t do revivals to fill seats.
As a result, they could use some support. And I’m hoping some of you will step up.
All gifts, however small, are both welcome and tax-deductible. But in efforts like this, there should also be incentives and rewards. Okay, then, consider these:
— If you donate $100, you’ll be acknowledged in the program.
— If you donate $150 or more, you’ll be acknowledged in the program and get the DVD of “A Model for Matisse,” a terrific 67-minute documentary about Sister Jacques-Marie and her friendship with Matisse.
— If you donate $500, I’ll write a speech or letter or toast for you, or edit a story, or… something.
Gifts to Vantage couldn’t be simpler. Simply go to PayPal, and send your gift to me there at [email protected] If you prefer to write a check, shoot an email to Jessekay.com or [email protected] and I’ll tell you where to send it. However you give, there’s one more thing to do: email your name and mailing address to me. The theater will send you a letter acknowledging your tax-deductible contribution. And, as appropriate, we’ll mail you the DVD.
It was an honor to write this play, and now to ask for your help in bringing this ambitious production to the world.
To read more about the play, click here.
For a tour of the Chapel…
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler
Photo credit: Getty Images