If you mention “Desire Under the Elms” to anyone in my P.T.T.P. class, they’ll roll their eyes and groan.  That will quickly lead to someone saying, “Remember when Ed had us all rolling around on the floor with boxes?”  That memory will produce another groan, but in the good kind of way.  I had met Ed upon entering the P.T.T.P., but Desire was the first time I got to work with him.  Those eyes, those crazy eyes.  Anyone who ever had a conversation with Ed knows what it was like the first time you were confronted with those eyes.  They seemed to peer right through you.  The other thing you noticed was his perpetual enthusiasm.  It seemed impossible that someone could always be that happy and energetic.

Upon graduation, I moved away for a few years.  When I came back, it was with a lot of ideas for shows I wanted to produce, but I knew few people in the theatre community.  The first of those ideas was Combat Theatre, but where to find eight directors?  Raeleen McMillion suggested I ask Ed, and typical of him he jumped right in without knowing a whole lot about the project.  It sounded fun to him; another experience to stretch his imagination and test his mettle.

Ed was a part of that first Combat and went on to direct eight shows for Bunny Gumbo.  And he had absolutely no fear.  That’s saying a lot.  Plenty of us pretend we have no fear when jumping into a Combat show, but I believe very few of them.  Ed was fearlessness personified.  Failure wasn’t something to be feared, but something to learn from, so why not jump in right away and find out what sticks to the wall?  There’s a great deal to take away from an Ed Burgess experience.

The last time I worked with Ed was in “Mixed Six,” a Danceworks show in which three actors were teamed up with three dancers.  Each of the actors was to choreograph a piece for each of the dancers and vice-versa.  When Sarah Wilbur first asked me to take part in the show, the idea scared the shit out of me and that’s why I knew I had to do it.  I was teamed up with Tom Thoreson and Ed was teamed up with John Kishline.  Now while I had gotten to a point as a performer where I was willing to accept any kind of challenge, it was not the most enjoyable experience for me.  I was terrified I was going to get it wrong on both ends.  Meanwhile, Ed and Kish were happily flopping around throwing caution to the wind.  Again; something to be learned there.

Last week I was working on my mailing for the next Combat at Alterra on Prospect.  I love that coffee house, and now that they’ve expanded there’s always a table to be found, mine being in the back of the shop.  I look up and there’s Ed, looking the same as always, which means healthy and happy.  I’m hoping to catch his eye and say hi, but when I look back up he’s got whatever he’s come in for and is whisking back out the door.  Damn.  That candle burned too fast.

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