Jack O'Brien, artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre, said a sad, heartfelt farewell to two of the company's veteran actors, Eric Christmas and G Wood, who died recently—both on the same day.
Writing in the Globe Upstage Magazine, O'Brien said, "Playgoers who recall them both will have no trouble supplying myriad impressions of their own, and can probably just as profitably read no further. But what of those who never saw them act, or if so, only once or twice, or then, perhaps, only at the age of ten?"
O'Brien paid tribute to one of Wood's earliest performances as a befuddled Don Armato in a production of Love's Labour's Lost back in the early 70s, directed by Christmas. He also remembered with affection Christmas's "sprung-heel Polonius, a neglected Napoleon of a past administration, counseling the Claudius of the late Richard Kneeland, like an impeccable otter, just the hint of a suppressed sneer playing around his mouth. Christmas was a character actor personified, precise, original, a petite point of brilliance in the corner of a canvas from which you could not possibly tear your eyes."
O'Brien also remembered Woods' final appearance at the Old Globe, in Joe Hardy's Richard II, "as a loquacious and moving John of Gaunt. And I remember his Leonato in my first Much Ado was so major a piece of work that Ellis Rabb insisted he take the final call with him...It was the greatest Leonato I ever saw."
O'Brien concluded his testimonial by saying, "I believe that we have theatre, build buildings, assemble audiences for the unique and special glory of acting. There is nothing of the play without the player for whom it is written; nothing of the applause that does not reward the individual who inspired it. I've said many times in my life that we are like ringed trees indelibly changed and forever affected, even scarred, by our confrontation by great performers." -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent