By Bob Scanlan
Oh, Alvin… how many times we have rehearsed this moment, this departure…. King Lear, The Tempest, and over and over again through the works of our beloved Samuel Beckett: Krapp’s Last Tape, Ohio Impromptu, Eh Joe, Ghost Trio, Nacht und Traume, Cascando, Words and Music, …but the clouds… and of course, over and over again: Endgame.
“Saw the dear face and heard the unspoken words, No need to go to him again, even were it in your power…”
We pored over these words, these texts, these lines we were learning together, deciphering their exact meaning, their overtones, their allusions, their every nuance, until we understood exactly how to play them, how to pace them, how to intone and enunciate their spectral meanings. Beckett made us prepare over and over again a gradual dawning of our missions as terminal beings, who would cease to be. We staged our deaths over and over again in production after production over a span of thirty years….. knowing full well it would come to this. And it has, for you. May you rest in peace. My heart, like a slow drum, beats my approach….
It is hard to recapitulate so many years of collaboration in the art we shared and loved so devotedly. It is too soon after the last breath. But gratitude comes to mind. And a deep regard for all our colleagues in our great mission as artists in Bob Brustein’s inimitable Repertory Company — alas, also a thing of the past. All our other scattered colleagues: Tommy Derrah, at whose memorial service you whispered in my ear “I want to do one more Beckett with you…”, and Jeremy Geidt (endless storytelling and laughs in the shared dressing room at the Loeb), David Wheeler (“He always knew better than to tell actors what they knew better than he did how to do…”) and all who yet remain, devoted as I am to you and your memory: Karen MacDonald, Will LeBow, Cherry Jones, Ben Evett, Remo Airaldi, David Gammons, Bill Camp, and all the actors of the Actors Shakespeare Company, who, like the Poets’ Theatre, made a refuge for you in Boston after the collapse of our artistic home….
I speak for the legions who benefitted from your friendship and your great energy and talent.
Robert Scanlan is the Artistic Director of the Poets’ Theatre and has taught at Harvard for 25 years.