(Feingold’s article appeared on Theatremania, 9/9.)
The recent deaths of Zelda Fichandler and James Houghton leave the theater with a special kind of job openings — for true believers.
Two people I cherished died this past summer. They weren't close friends: I knew them both well enough to feel their loss personally, but I feel it much more strongly as a generalized ache on behalf of our theater — a world they both dearly loved. When people who have made themselves a gigantic part of that world have gone, the vacancy they leave behind is palpable. Zelda Fichandler, who died on July 29, and James Houghton, who died on August 2, belonged to that giant category: The empty space they once occupied makes me tremble as I wonder who, if anyone, will come to fill it.
Both Zelda and Jim had ample credentials as working artists. Far more importantly, both were the creators and shapers of great institutions, visionaries who made opportunities for hundreds of other artists. In so doing, they reshaped the entire American theater, reshaped the way we think about it, and so had a profound effect on our culture as a whole. Their presence among us made an enormous difference; its effects continue to resonate.