An open letter to Keith Knight.
Best Actor: The Professor, "The Lesson." Lakeway CVS
Last Tuesday, as I was driving through Montana on my way to another adventure, I started thinking of you for some reason, and I started to compose this letter in my head. But while I was on my journey to China via Victoria, you were on your own journey, and I didn't realize how close you were to your destination. I wanted to say these things to you while you were still with us. But of course, I have left it too late.
At the risk of over-using a metaphor, I like to think of you as relaxing in the Green Room, watching the rest of us dance around the stage of life, and waiting for us to make our final curtain calls. We'll all go to the local pub and laugh at ourselves for taking life so seriously.
Keith, I want to thank you for everything you have given me. When you were my student you were my teacher. When you were my actor you were my director. When you were my director you were my teacher. You have always been my friend, even though we have never hung around together.
When we produced The Lesson so many years ago, you taught me many valuable lessons. As a student you taught me that high school students can be passionate and dedicated to an ephemeral art form. Your dedication drove me to work with you to explore and evaluate every possible ounce of meaning that was in that difficult script. I think you brought out the best in me as you strove to do the same for yourself. It was an experience I shall cherish for ever.
As a director you were solid, focused, driven to a unified performance that was intellectually sound and unified. While you made it clear that you wanted your vision (which is a director's role, after all), you were gentle with your actors, allowing them the opportunity to arrive at your interpretation through a rational and emotional journey. You provided the map for your actors to follow. You modeled my vision of how a director should work to bring out the best in his actors.
As a friend you have always been in the background of my thoughts. We never chummed around together. We had different lives to lead, in different cities, in different (or not-so-different professions). Yet I couldn't help feeling that you were there somewhere, somehow watching, interested, and supportive. It was a friendship that is very difficult to explain, intangible yet real.
And so, my friend, I want to tell you how much I respect you, value your friendship, and mourn the loss of future productions with you and by you. But know that you have had a significant impact on my life, and as I continue to teach, act, direct, and live, your influence will be passed on to all those with whom I come in contact.
The world is an emptier, sadder place without you, yet paradoxically a fuller, happier place as a result of your time upon this stage of fools.
"Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."