As I work on all of the publicity for John Hadoupis' final show at Blackfriars and his retirement event at the end of next month, the reality of him leaving is finally starting to sink in. And it’s a tough reality for me. Jack has been one of the greatest artistic mentors of my life.
Although there are so many little tidbits (and big ones too) that I have picked up from him, there is a defining moment in our history together that forever changed me as a performer. It was during Shipwrecked, An Entertainment! That show was only the second time he and I had worked together and I had the harrowing task of playing over 30 different characters in the production. To be blunt, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever tackled as an actress. I was excited and completely terrified.
I have always been an artist that really needs rehearsal. I need it to play and explore and be terrible and I usually find my groove about a week before opening. But for this show, it just wasn't happening. I felt so out of body. And the closer we got to opening, the more petrified I became that I wouldn't get it and feel dropped into the show. So, the day before our first tech rehearsal, I emailed Jack to apologize for how bad I was and to assure him I would find it and that I was better than what he was seeing. His response was nothing new per say, but the way he said it to me changed me as an artist and I carry that email around with me in my rehearsal bag to this day as a reminder.
He told me I need to have confidence. He told me he hired me because he knew I had the talent to deliver this show and that I had to know it too. He told me whether I felt secure or not, when the audience is out there, I have to own the performance and deliver every single action and intention with conviction. He told me to stop apologizing for my work and to believe in myself and my talent the way he believed.
Jack has not only been one of the greatest artistic mentors of my life but he has also become one of my most cherished friends. He has seen me through some of my highest highs and lowest lows. I still have the Lamb Chop stuffed animal he gave me to try and help “add some cheer” after my Mom passed. When I was deciding whether or not to move home from LA, I remember pacing the driveway of the home I lived in and talking to him for over 2 hours about what the hell I should do. And whenever I book a role in town, I always wake up to a personal message of joy and congratulations from him. Although I will likely never be lucky enough to collaborate with him again onstage, I am grateful he will forever be my friend.
So . . . I will miss his collaborative spirit and the genuine love he has for the work and for his artists. I will miss his special and unique artistry and vision as a director and designer. I will miss his kind and loving faith in and respect for me as an actress and person in the theatre.
Jack, I love you. Your legacy will carry on in this community for decades to come. You have helped shape and define what art is in Rochester. You have helped shape the lives of so many artists you’ve worked with. Especially this one. You will be missed more than I think even you know.
Thank you. <3
P.S. I will be performing is Jack's farewell event - Look, He Made A Hat: Celebrating the Legacy of John Haldoupis. More information on my Schedule page.