Letter at Length

OSF responds aboutNew Theatre renaming

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival feels it important to respond to Leah Ireland's "Letter at Length" (March 24) about the "modern tragedy" of renaming the New Theatre the Thomas Theatre.

OSF deeply appreciates the generosity of The Goatie Foundation, Roberta and David Elliott, and Helen and Peter Bing and their desire to honor Peter Thomas, a 28-year member of the OSF company, who died in March 2010. In naming the theatre for him — an individual, not "a corporation or their family," as Ms. Ireland suggests — we can all continue to celebrate his dedication and love for OSF. It is hugely unusual to name a theater for someone who worked in it, and in honoring Peter the donors are symbolically honoring all of us who work on or behind the stage.

Peter's legacy at OSF is deep and broad — as an usher, the first full-time campaign coordinator for the pavilion, endowment director and director of development — Peter touched many lives within the company and in the community at large.

As one supporter commented on the OSF website, "I cannot think of a more appropriate memorial to (Peter's) work and his humanity." In fact, contrary to what Ms. Ireland insinuates about the town being abuzz with questions about OSF's intentions in the naming of the Thomas Theatre, we have been deluged with supportive, joyful and loving letters, emails and testimonials from company members, loyal patrons and fellow residents of the Rogue Valley that applaud the decision of our donors in choosing the name. Even two years after his untimely passing, Peter's light is still shining in so many ways.

We also believe that naming the new rehearsal space the Hay Patton Rehearsal Center in honor of Senior Scenic and Theatre Designer Richard L. Hay, a 55-year veteran of the company, and William Patton, OSF's first general manager and executive director, is apt and fitting recognition of the work that these two amazing men have done for the organization — putting them squarely at the center of the creation of the work on stage.

What's in a name? Celebration.

Paul Nicholson, executive director,

Oregon Shakespeare Festival


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