Remembrance of Tim Stapleton from Artistic Director Josh Hecht
“I met Tim Stapleton soon after moving to Portland when Steve Young, then one of our Board members, invited me and my then-partner to dinner with Tim at Steve and Jane’s apartment. Tim regaled us with stories of his Kentucky youth, and he told me of his excitement about our upcoming Lisa Kron season, since he had spent so many years in Lansing where Lisa is from, working at the Boorshead Theatre where Lisa cut her teeth.
Many years earlier, I had worked with Gore Vidal “dramaturging” a play of his. (I put that in quotes because Gore had little interest in that collaboration. But he did regale me with stories every afternoon. I was thoroughly, utterly charmed.) Tim reminded me of Gore, with his naughty twinkle and his southern drawl, which he leaned into occasionally for effect. Was there ever anyone more charming than Tim?
One of the things I loved most about Tim is that he believed you didn’t have be an “Artist” with a capital A to make art and to have your life enriched by the act of creation. He himself, of course, was a consummate artist, and he shared that gift freely and called it forth in others.
One of the first big “wins” for me at Profile was when we won a large near-six-figure Creative Heights grant to commission Ping Chong + Company to create a docu-theatre piece about living with chronic illness or caring for someone who does. 6 Portland residents told their own and each other’s stories. One of them was Tim. I was and am immensely proud of that piece, crafted with love and directed by Sara Zatz.
Tim had the last lines of the play. He hoisted himself to standing with the aid of his friend and documentarian Dave Poulshock and said these words:
“I stand with the aid of a cane on the porch of a house in a mid-west town. The sky rolls by pouring a blue-gray wash over an autumn landscape. Colors run and blend. To the west there is light. The yard dims. Fireflies, a seemingly vast constellation hovering in the yellow-orange carpeted darkness, pull me from the porch. I step off. Suddenly, in the early shades of night the fireflies transform into an army with fiery wands drawn at ready, soldiering me into this battle against my affliction.
My cane becomes a sword. […]
My name is Timothy Wayne Stapleton. I was born March 29th, 1949 in Fleming, Kentucky. My name means “a wagon full of things that honor God.” I’ve always felt I was born out of fire. It was the start of Spring in Coal Country, the season of rebirth.”
Thank you, Tim, for everything.” -Josh Hecht