Friday, April 2, 2010

Seth Gordon to Leave the Cleveland Play House

So usually I write about Chicago (and sometimes New York, I know), but bear with me for what I think is a rather big news out of my hometown of Cleveland. As The Plain Dealer reported, Cleveland Play House Associate Artistic Director Seth Gordon is leaving to take the same position at the Repertory Theatre of St Louis. However, the St. Louis position will have a greater element of new play development (and presumably greater pay, though it was not mentioned). His wife, Elizabeth Townsend, a really exceptional actor, will be going with him.

I was lucky enough to be his intern at the Play House in 2005, and it was a wonderful time. I got my first real script-reading experience, which has been the basis for my literary management career, researched the first few plays of the season, helped cast the kids for the company's first production of A Christmas Story (Seven kid's parts. It was a challenge.), and prepared text and photos for a lobby exhibit on the theatre's 90th anniversary. It was Seth who had the trust in me and my work to give me real responsibility. By the end of the summer, I felt like part of the artistic team of a major regional theatre. Which is pretty cool. The work he gave me at the Play House gave me the basis and confidence to do what I've done so far. (And his letter of recommendation has also helped a whole lot.)

But he's done a lot for Cleveland that wasn't for me. He is an excellent director, at the Play House and smaller venues. His shows were always among the highlights of their respective seasons--an outdoor production of Twelfth Night that he directed remains the high-water-mark for that play in my mind. And he's a genuinely wonderful guy, who treats everyone he encounters with great respect and friendliness. I don't know anyone who has met him and doesn't hugely admire him and like him. I know I'm not the only artist who he has given a leg up in Cleveland--he was well known for hiring local actors for mainstage shows, which gained him a whole lot of loyalty. Elizabeth, continuing the trend, is also an exceptionally good actor and a truly lovely human being. They'll be a big loss to Cleveland's theatre community.

So St. Louis, enjoy Seth and Elizabeth.

Cleveland, I'm truly sorry for the loss--he's the best.

Chicago, the next time an opening on the artistic staff comes up, steal him from St. Louis. It's a shame he's never worked here. At least give him a guest director slot.

And Seth, thank you. And please hire me for something.

1 comment:

Blanche said...

LOL!! A perfect and beautiful tribute to a really wonderful artist and human being. Seth is a real mensch in the best sense and this will be a loss for the Cleveland theatre community.