Friday, October 6, 2017


October 6, 2017

Steven Kent: 1943 - 2017..  
Steven Kent..  If you are the photographer or know who he/she is.. please credit here.

Some of the best 'shows' I've ever attended were memorials for folks who were so loved that lots of people came to tell stories and to be with one another. The ritual of Theatre is partly this.. especially when it works.  Playwright/Poet Deena Metzger, who collaborated with Steve many times over the past forty or more years talked about magical happenings when working on a project.  Anyone who was a part of The James Joyce Memorial Liquid Theatre or The Emergence, two of The Company Theatre's amazing productions directed by Steven will understand that what the Theatre is supposed to do and did do in a few bright shining years of transformation on Robertson Boulevard changed people's lives, figuratively as well as literally for some of us. 
This leads me to say that what Steve Kent did was more than direct plays and work with actors to mount a production.  What he did was transform people into a place where whatever the production was, it was an ensemble of actors, musicians, designers and the text. always.. the text .. and that left an audience in a special contract with the production that sent them away changed. Better or at least with ideas that did not lead to going directly on to the next thing.  There was spirit and heart in every production.. And, I realized again that what Theatre is all about must be about transformation.  Not just an evening diversion.. or a matinee..  but, the importance of Theatre is living human beings interacting in an intimate way with other humans with the goal of the live performance melding their spirits.  

Of course, some shows are just a diversion. and some are better than others.. but every single audience that attends live Theatre is in a holy place... where something may happen that reaches deep into our hearts and fills it with something. Steve Kent's goal was to give colleagues, students, friends, actors and all.. the opportunity to make a difference in our lives.  

So.. about a hundred friends of Steven Kent's came to La Verne University today and there was a sort of show.  I was warned off the lengthy parts of eulogies and there were some, but we all sat and remembered a man who touched every person with whom he came in contact in a magical way. 

Today's event reminded me of those early days of The Company and how I, as a hanger on.. was involved in a very special way.  Working in Steve's workshops, I stole dozens of his theatre games to share with my students at Long Beach State.  

 There were many heart felt stories .. personal stories of working with Steve and lists of his accomplishments.  Members of The Company Theatre:  Jack Rowe, Don Harris, Barry and Don Opper, Candy Laughlin, Louie Piday, Bob Walter, Nancy Dannevik and Wiley Rinaldi were in attendance.  Tina Preston, Michael and Roses Pritchard were there, too. 

I met Steve's  neighbor, Martin Cox, who told me the story of going over to check on Steve and say hello.  In the end, Steve was sometimes coherent and sometimes not.  Martin came in, greeted Steve and was holding his hand and speaking to him.  Steve did not respond.  This was not all together unusual, but Martin was concerned. Then he thought that maybe Steve had died, but he didn't want to touch him inappropriately.. So.. he took a break and went back to his apartment and put his clean dishes away. Then, he got a text from a hospice worker who was on his way and asked how Steve was doing. Martin didn't want to text back that he thought that Steve was dead because the guy was on the road, driving.  Finally, he did arrive and Steve was taken care of.. Martin and I decided that the story would make Steve laugh .. and we did.

The kids.. the students who had Steve as a teacher and graduates who loved him gave eulogies.  Tom Moose, talked about meeting his wife in the very space where this gathering was held. He played his version of "I'll Fly Away" on his mandolin. Really touching. 

Our host was a twenty year old junior who had been Steve's student for only two years.. He was filled with emotion and charm. Cherubic. He summed up the memorial with lines from Hamlet. Act I, Scene Two:  "He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again." 

Yes. yes indeed..  
take care, michaelsheehan.

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