Lance was truly a man of vision. He looked at a ragtag group of actors on folding chairs in a tiny rehearsal room, and saw a romantic forest filled with lovers. He looked at a black box theater where the bathroom was on the stage, and saw Grover’s Corners. Lance not only saw these visions, but had the unique ability to share them with others by bringing them to life on stage.
I don’t think there was an insincere bone in Lance’s body. He was authentic in everything he did. He was a mentor not only to young performers just starting out, but also to older performers returning to the stage after long absences. Although his vision was always specific and clear, Lance trusted his actors to make their own choices. He never micromanaged or played head games. He had faith in his collaborators.
There were no stars in an Isle of Shoals production. It was always a true ensemble. Lance went out of his way to give opportunities to actors to challenge themselves and grow. He never typecast, but saw complete and complicated people. I did many “firsts” on stage because of Lance and I know many of my castmates did too.
I never had the chance to see Lance onstage. He seemed content to be behind the scenes. He was quick to heap praise on others, but never drew attention to himself.
I will miss his handwritten letters filled to the edge and beyond, his never-ending puns, his incredible generosity, and his vivacity. I’ve often wondered exactly what a director does, and I think the bottom line is that a director brings out the best in you. I think I speak on behalf of all Lance’s actors when I say he was one of the greats in that regard. He left the world and all of us better off for having known him.
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