DEATH, FACEBOOK & THE NTC: close one door, open another

I have a feeling that except for my inner circle, most of the people who know me will learn of my death on Facebook. I’ve heard of two such loses […]

February 23, 2010 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

I have a feeling that except for my inner circle, most of the people who know me will learn of my death on Facebook. I’ve heard of two such loses this week as the Denver theatre community bids farewell to two beloveds. First it was Renye, a much loved artist who fell to cancer and days later the death knell of the National Theatre Conservatory. The one is inexplicable, the other begs for answers and I, the optimist, believe there is re-birth at hand.
The NTC was former Denver Center Artistic Director Donovan Marley’s baby; his vision for sustaining the future of the American Theatre through the impeccable training of the actor. It brought much to the then fledgling Theatre Company and far more through the years. Having bright young talent in our midst has kept us young and connected to why we began our own journeys in this profession. The impact the alumni have had on the world of and beyond Denver is impressive; I’m blessed to have known so many of them.
From the outside this feels like a drastic step. But in the post 911 years I’ve watched the adjustments made to production budgets, the job cuts and their duties consolidated in an effort to keep the Conservatory alive within a difficult economic climate. Though I cannot explain their decision, I am certain that the “Powers That Be” within the DCPA considered the options carefully before slashing this jewel. Like many have noted and all of us hope, perhaps with the National Charter, it may find rebirth.
As a Realtor in this market, I know that change is constant and things in the Denver theatre community have changed. Under the vision of Artistic Director Kent Thompson a new nurturance of artistic talent is taking place at the DCTC as the New Play Summit bears witness. I am not sure it’s fair to say that the future of the American Theatre is enriched more by investing in acting talent than in writing talent, for the nurturance of artistic voice and vision further our society regardless of the medium. God knows I’m not in favor of closing the NTC, but let’s not take our eyes off of the good that IS happening here. A fearless and risky commitment to the development of new plays is nothing to sniff at. In fact, finding new stories and discovering new ways to tell them is surely the best way to ensure the health of the theatre and the employment of all of its artists.
For years I heard an endless drone of white noise grousing about how the Denver Center was hermetically sealed to local talent, but that too has changed. Through the efforts of Mr. Thompson, Bruce Sevy and former DCTC casting director Sylvia Gregory among others, many talented Denver actors have been seen in plays and employed by the Center in the past few years. A great deal more interest has been paid to our talent pool and I believe that we’ll see more.
So rather than seeing only loss and feeling anger, perhaps we should stay focused on the gifts we’ve been given and the rebirth ahead; for Renye, and for the NTC. And if you hear of my untimely demise via Facebook, keep the wise cracks to a minimum. Or better yet, keep ‘em comin’.


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