Saturday, February 02, 2008


It’s Saturday night and I should be sleeping. Or working on the prospectus for my term paper. Or doing my taxes. Or watching college basketball.

But you lovely people have given me SO much to write about, I feel I must at least knock one thing off my list of things to respond to before turning in tonight.

My wife has encouraged me to find that kindler, gentler DaveT wrapped up under those February doldrums so, instead of dashing off a vociferous response to the mr. or ms. Anonymous who is hatin on Rick St. Peter (I would have said dissin’ but that’s so 1990s, right?), I’ll use this as an opportunity to talk about the transformative power of theater.

It is because of Rick St. Peter that I tear up every time I hear the song “What if God was one of us” by Joan Osborne. His placement of that song at the end of his phenomenal production of “The Laramie Project” forever linked that melody with the confused feelings of sorrow and pain and torment and uplift and hope that I felt watching that show. It’s easily one of the top 5 great moments in theater that I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. His direction of Rick Brandt in that production -- much like his direction of Scott Wichmann in "Hip-Hop" -- resulted in an exceptional actor delivering an incredible, exhilarating performance.

That play was the capstone to an amazing career for Rick here in Richmond, a tenure that redefined for me what theater could be. “suburbia,” “Stop Kiss” and “Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop” were among the most challenging, vital, fervent, engaging productions I have ever seen. Beyond what he has done on stage, I have been lucky enough to interact with Rick outside of the theater and have found him to be one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, and unpretentious theater people I have ever met.

I included comments from Rick in my piece because he has a perspective on theater that I don’t think I could get from anyone in Richmond. While here, he worked at many different levels of the theater scene, from TheatreVCU to independent productions at Theatre Gym to big budget Equity productions at TheatreVirginia. Since leaving Richmond, he’s run his own theater program as well as guest-directed for various others. He remains connected to the local scene via the many friends he has here and the Richmond actors he casts in his shows in Lexington (not to mention, those he outright steals from town altogether – lookin at you Parrish). He is beholden to no one here and can provide an informed, unbiased and coherent opinion on theater here and elsewhere, more so than few other people I can think of.

Rick is a source that any theater writer would be lucky to have. Even more so, I am lucky to have been able to sustain regular – if sporadic – contact with him over the years and feel great personal affection toward him, his lovely wife and his two children. That doesn’t mean I take his every word as the bonafide, unqualified gospel (check out the comments here for an example) but I feel honored that he still feels willing to share his thoughts in this space and am always delighted when he does.

Are we veering back into annoying love fest territory? Yeah, well, for Rick, it’s worth it. I'm glad to finally have an excuse to do a full-scale gush about Mr. St. Peter.

After a good night’s sleep and maybe a day or so of further rumination, I’ll try to lay out some thoughts about “status,” “stars” and what one has to do to hang out with Mr. Timberline and Company. In the meantime, I’ll be having sweet dreams about “Little Women” and other upcoming productions I’m very much looking forward to seeing.


Anonymous said...

Aww Dave, thanks for the love, which I am sure will irritate a vast majority of your readers!! For the most part, I got nothing but love for Richmond...I got my MFA there and I got my career started there. I am grateful for the opportunities I had and the support of guys like Randy Strawderman, Steve Perigard, Michael Gooding, Bruce Miller, Benny Ambush (who is my son's Godfather and we still work together regularly) in addition to all the actors and designers I got to work with. It was a good time to be there but once TVA closed, it was time to go if I was going to have a career and make a is as simple as that. I'd love to come back and direct at Barksdale sometime but I haven't been asked and with my schedule (my contract allows me to do one freelance gig a year), I couldn't do it before 2010 anyway...

It still doesn't change my views on Richmond as a town with problems, although my comment about the murder rate was meant to be a joke (I guess the murder rate should really be compared to I kid!!)

Speaking of people I have stolen, Mr. Parrish's production of Boston Marriage is killing here ( and I am lucky to have him, as I was lucky to get Scotty, Sara Heifetz and Koehler and Benny out here. Having them all here has made my theatre better while at the same time causing grumbling here in Lexington...

Finally judging from richmond theatre goer's lack of a sense of humor and signing their post anonymously, I would guess they may be a former TVA board member!!


Anonymous said...

Dave, this is the anon who hated on Rick, eating her words. I forgot Laramie. You're right, that production was fantastic. Yes, I saw it too. I did not care for Mr. St. Peter's work until then but that show proved him credible.

Now, I am still angry at those who leave, and at ignorance. About crime and art in my hometown. But my shot at his directing was cheap.

So, a humble apology for gettin b*y, and forgetting that great show.