Dear friends of Portland Actors Ensemble,
It has been an honor to lead Portland Actors Ensemble and its now 48-year Shakespeare-in-the-Parks tradition as artistic director since 2011. Recently, PAE has expanded its already diverse audience, brought different artistic offerings, and built exciting new partnerships. Our financial footing is much firmer now than it was just a few short years ago. While a theatre group that offers free performances outdoors will always face unique challenges, PAE is in a solid, growing state. These robust conditions, a family move from the hub of Portland theatre, and emergence of a strong and visionary new leader for PAE have convinced me that it is finally safe and appropriate for me to step aside as PAE artistic director. These years have been a ton of work and two tons of joy, with occasional frustration to keep things interesting.
This is a bittersweet decision for me. From the first time I attended a PAE show, Much Ado About Nothing in 1989, I hoped that someday I would be worthy of joining this wonderful troupe. For many reasons, more than a decade passed before I stepped on stage for PAE for the first time in 2001. In the years since, and for the past seven years as artistic director, PAE has blessed me with opportunities to work with hundreds of talented theatre artists. I have so many joyous memories with these incredible artists. I wish that I could thank each one of them here, but there are too many to name. To all of you brilliant actors, directors, designers, producers, and crew members that I have had the honor and pleasure to work with over the years, THANK YOU! You are amazing! Working with PAE has given me the chance to attempt diverse and challenging characters, including some truly bucket-list roles like Brutus, Nick Bottom, and ultimately Macbeth. Thank you to the directors that entrusted me with those incredible opportunities. Please trust that I gave them my all, every performance, for every audience. I have been blessed to have the chance.
To all of you, those tens of thousands of beautiful people who came out to watch our performances, thank you! From my first production as artistic director, 2012’s Hamlet in Lone Fir Cemetery, to last summer’s The Winter’s Tale, it has been a pleasure to serve you, our audiences, and the region. I hope that you enjoyed the productions. To everyone who dropped money into Boxy or donated another way, thank you for helping us continue this tradition. To our larger donors (especially Ronni Lacroute) and partners at Willamette Shakespeare, thank you for your generous support and trust. To the dozens of passionate and selfless volunteer board members who have work with me through these years, thank you for your time and energy. And to anyone who has supported PAE’s mission in whatever capacity, thank you! You all have made, and continue to make, free Shakespeare-in-the-Parks possible. The play’s the thing, since 1970.
It is a great joy to know that the talented and energetic Paul Susi has taken over operations and is now serving as interim artistic director. Paul and I worked together on my first Shakespeare-in-the-Parks production, the 2001 Much Ado About Nothing; I was Conrade to Paul’s Don John. Paul has been part of PAE for many years, including playing Othello in 2005 and Achilles in last summer’s Troilus and Cressida. He came on as part of the board and production crew over year ago, and has worked tirelessly to forge stronger community relationships and build the organization. This season will showcase Paul’s artistic direction and commitment to the mission. PAE is left in excellent hands under his leadership. I will be remaining on the board to support Paul and the eventual long-term artistic director as I am able. The board has room for a few more folks with a passion for and commitment to the mission of accessible classical theatre. If you are one of them, please consider joining us and help us bring free Shakespeare-in-the-Parks into its 49th (and 50th!) consecutive season and beyond.
Good Will for All,
Artistic Director Emeritus
Portland Actors Ensemble