“The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited.”
- Hamlet, Act II, sc.ii
During this milestone 50th anniversary season, we will celebrate many achievements, past and present, and honor many of the people and organizations who have helped us reach this landmark in our history; but no group of people deserves a warmer spotlight than our extraordinary family of artists, who over the years, have been the primary purveyors of the great works of literature that we bring to life each season. Each day of this year, from this first day of rehearsal for the first show of the season, to the last day of our final show, we will highlight one of our company artists and their specific achievements here at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. As they accumulate, you can go to the special calendar link and revisit any of the profiles in the large array of incredible artists who grace the “wooden O’s” of our amazing institution.
June 20th, 2012
Artist of the Day Rich Dionne ~ Sound Designer
Rich Dionne is not just a sound designer. The heading on his “Artist of the Day” profile really should read, “Sound Designer, Production Manager, Technical Director, Teacher, Author, Problem Solver, Humorist, and Super-Hero Aficionado” — but more on those things in a moment. Rich began his relationship with The Shakespeare Theatre back in 2000, when we hired him to design sound for Paul Mullins’ production of Rhinoceros. He did such a terrific job that he was immediately hired to do two more shows for the 2000 season – Antony and Cleopatra and The Blue Bird. In working with Rich on both those final shows in the 2000 season, I (Bonnie) began to know him better and when the job of Production Manager opened up at the end of that year, I asked him if he’d be interested in the position. We discussed the job and all it would entail over a meal at Rocco’s (my second office!). I remember being somewhat concerned about whether I was over-estimating his ability to take on such a big job at such a young age, and hoping I wasn’t wrong in feeling that he had the maturity and skill to handle such a tough job. By the end of dinner, all those concerns were gone. I remember being tremendously impressed at how such a wise sensibility had come to develop in one so young. Rich served well as our Production Manager for four years and during that time he also continued to create sound designs for many more shows including The Three Sisters, The Crucible, Enrico IV, The Tempest, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, The Glass Menagerie, Pygmalion, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Hay Fever. As busy as he was, he also managed to meet, court, woo and propose to our Wardrobe Mistress, the lovely Leslie Abeyta. Rich moved on from The Shakespeare Theatre after that four year stint to join the faculty at Purdue University, but he has still remained a very active and committed company member, returning to design Macbeth, Life of Galileo, A Christmas Carol (twice!), Amadeus, The Winter’s Tale, The Little Foxes, The Lion in Winter, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and this season’s Henry IV, Part One and Comedy of Errors. During the 2011 season, when we found ourselves without a Production Manager, Rich returned for the summer to function as our Interim Production Manager while we engaged in a careful search for a new candidate. We would not have gotten through the season without his immense and expert help! Over the past 12 years, I have had the great privilege and honor to get to know Rich well as both a friend and colleague. I have learned over time about his passion for comics and super-heroes and I know that he would prefer (as many men would) to be a super-hero himself and not just a mortal man. I know he would like to right wrongs and help save people. What he will not acknowledge (hence, I will do it for him) is that he is already a super-hero — surely to his son Jack and his wife, but also for me and for this Theatre. Part of his great strength lies in the fact that he is not a threatened man. Part of his great power lies in his absolute willingness to make sacrifices to help others. He has helped save our company from near-disasters on so many occasions, by lending his time, his intelligence, his talents, his expertise and his super-ability to unify people and get them working in an organized way toward a common goal. He is open to collaboration, eager for feedback about artistic choices, nonplussed about conflicting opinions and open to all of them. He is a strong, powerful, wise ally in a universe often threatened, and I amend his title to this: Artist of the Day: Rich Dionne ~ Sound Designer/Super-Hero. Did I mention he has a wicked sense of humor that also adds to his arsenal of super-powerful weapons?