For the past year, I have been going back and forth on what memories to share, what experiences to put together to show who Andy was to me, and, I’m embarrassed to admit this, it has been a challenge. There’s just too many wonderful, thoughtful moments, and it felt like picking a Top 5 best memories list, while the rest remained stored away in my brain.
I was one of Andy’s students at COCA, specifically in the devised show, “Death Fruits,” a loose adaptation of the Hades-Persephone myth. For a young beginner in theatre, Andy’s class was the best introduction into the acting profession. He instilled discipline through rigorous Suzuki exercises, and created a space for us to explore and play through devising. Thanks to my mother and her desire to document all of her children’s performances, she was able to record the show and got the DVD over to Andy, who then used it to further develop the play into the project “Death Fruits: The Musical”.
In fact, our first conversation over Facebook was a foreword of an email he had sent to the rest of the cast, of how we could revise the show for a new performance. It was an Andy response, bursting with creativity, excitement, imagination, sprinkled with some sass, but overall written with love.
Even though I was busy with school at the time, he still kept me in his book.
A year later, he asked if I could be a reader for one of his playwriting classes at COCA, and I happily agreed.
For several years afterward, Andy and I kept in touch through Facebook and in person, mainly whenever I was back home from college. Mostly about Shakespeare. I didn’t know much about the Bard’s plays, but I think Andy fostered it to a deep appreciation.
The last time I saw Andy in person was about a week before I left for an internship with the American Shakespeare Center in August 2016. His place was literally a few blocks down from my family’s place, so I met him at the front of the Glenridge Elementary asphalt top. We then proceeded to walk the whole half of Clayton, to head over to the St. Louis County Library so he could drop off a book, and then all the way back to Oxford. We talked about so many things- the political state of our country, regional theatre, directing, acting, vices, virtues. Looking back, I feel so lucky I got to have these thoughtful discussions with a constantly curious, and contemplative soul that was Andy.
The last time I spoke with Andy was a few weeks later over Facebook. I was working at the ASC’s Education department, and had to go into the video archives for a project. To my joy, I found a 2005 commercial spot, where I caught a split-second of Andy’s Hotspur mid-battle with Prince Hal in an early production of ‘Henry IV Part 1.” I informed him of this discovery, and he responded with a smiling, joyful emoji.
I am so very grateful to have had Andy in my life, as a dedicated mentor, a passionate artist, and a great friend. Thank you for everything, Andy.