Longtime theatre patrons may remember me as an actor or director and BSB rep company member from many of the memorable productions BSB has staged over the past 23 years (some personal favorites of mine including A Streetcar Named Desire, Long Day's Journey into Night, Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, Shining City, The Odd Couple, The Compleat Wks of Wm Shakespeare abridged, Hamlet, Macbeth, Distant Music, and Dracula.)
Upon hearing of Fred Simon's (CEO of Omaha Steaks) passing last year, I felt the loss deeply. Fred taught me the meaning of true philanthropy. He and his wife, Eve, have been longtime supporters of BSB--all-around champions of the arts in Omaha--but more than that, they have been friends to me. They always had kind words of encouragement for me, even when my focus shifted beyond Omaha to wider pursuits in film and television, and I can recall many afternoons spent with Fred in his offices where he sat and talked with me, tutored me in becoming more business savvy with my art, and talked to me about other plays and operas he had seen that moved him.
He once told me, "The highest form of giving a person can reach is to give another the opportunity for employment." That always stuck with me. And that is exactly what he did for me. He believed in me and Brigit Saint Brigit from the beginning, never wavered in his support, and gave me the opportunity to ply my trade and work my heart out--and to prove that I was worth the opportunity given.
At his funeral, I decided to find a time this season to take time away from auditioning and filmmaking, and return to the stage to build something I knew he would enjoy. I could think of no better way to honor him and share that with his family than to create. And then share that creation with everyone who cared to see it. The beauty of Theatre.
It just so happened that Shakespeare's Folio was set to tour the United States this spring, and Cathy (Kurz, Artistic Director) had put a Folio celebration on the bill! It was a perfect match. I wrote Tyger's Hart, a single story built from Shakespeare's vast canon to create something entirely new! A play, dedicated to the memory of a great man--Fred Simon--that honors the life of another great man--William Shakespeare. For if it weren't for people like Fred, William would be the greatest playwright that no one has ever heard of, waiting tables at the Old Applebee's outside the Globe Theatre.