Tributes to Eric Samuelsen

Everything Eric ever wrote for the Plan-B Blog
Eric’s Obituary
Tribute: Association of Mormon Letters
Tribute: KUER’s RadioWest
Tribute: The Salt Lake Tribune
Tribute: The Utah Review

No one has ever fit my voice as an actor and human like you. If I could spend the rest of my life just doing Eric Samuelsen theatre, I would be a happy, content, and a much-better-than-I-actually-am actor. My career-defining moment as an actor (personally) came with BORDERLANDS. I don’t think I’ve been better. I know that I never felt more connected to a character. Thank you. A close runner-up is CLEARING BOMBS. Thank you for Mr. Bowles. NOTHING PERSONAL remains a bewilderment of “How did we do that?” and although I didn’t understand AMERIGO as much as I would have liked, I have to admit the pure thrill of just saying anything you write. If I never step out in front of the lights again, I will still feel like I got the juiciest, most delicious roles in the four Eric Samuelsen productions I was blessed to do. Truthfully, my performances in your plays were really your creation. I simply had to open my mouth and remember my blocking. “To my gentle giant: Good night, sweet {hilarious, intelligent, poetic, amazing} prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
– Kirt Bateman, who created roles in AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, NOTHING PERSONAL and CLEARING BOMBS

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to know you and be a part of bringing your wonderful plays to life. I’ll never forget the first time I read BORDERLANDS, specifically when I got to the last few pages. I thought it was the bravest, most compassionate, beautiful thing anyone had ever written. Do what is right let the consequence follow. Thank you for risking many things by sharing your work with us.
– Cheryl Cluff, who created the sound design for MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, NOTHING PERSONAL, RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA (also director), CLEARING BOMBS, 3 (also director) and THE ICE FRONT

Thank you, you sweet, sweet man for your delightedly boyish face at every reading, at every stumble through (except that one when you fell asleep, which…I will never forget…nor will I forget the rewrites spawned by that nap), at every performance. Thank you for trusting me with so many precious, smart, haunting words and moments. Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me to have my heart exploded and broken and mended by watching the worlds you create. I love you and your brain and your heart. Thank goodness we have some of both to keep with us here when you go. Sending so much love to you and your family, and my hopes that these moments are peaceful.
– April Fossen, who created roles in MIASMA and NOTHING PERSONAL and (IN)DIVISIBLE

In my career, I have been in more plays by Eric than by any playwright other than Shakespeare. As a fellow tall Norwegian with a deep love of both theatre history and pop culture, I felt a deep connection from our first meeting. Perhaps it’s no wonder I found a voice in his work. The true reward of those roles, however, was getting to know Eric and be inspired by him. As a professor and theatre-maker, he always worked to give voice to those whose voices were being excluded. I consider it a life well lived to be part of his legacy, continuing his work of love and learning and rich laughter. Thank you, Eric.
– Mark Fossen, who created roles in AMERIGO, CLEARING BOMBS, (IN)DIVISIBLE and THE ICE FRONT

I once heard a quote in a movie or a play that talks of writing about someone but they will only use the good words, the very best words to describe that person. Wanting to write about Eric Samuelson is that way. I want to use the very best words to describe him like Brave. Inquisitive. Caring. Thoughtful. Loving, True. Artful. Laughter. Diet Coke. Alive. Intuitive. Creative. Sincere. The Bright Side. Forgiving. Honest. Missed. I want to use all the words; but there aren’t enough of them. He used them all. Masterfully. He lived them all. Generously. No one will replace him. Hugs. I will miss Eric. His laugh his love and his words. I’m so grateful he was, is and will always be my friend.
– Jennifer Freed, who stage managed all but one of Eric’s nine world premieres, all but one of his eight short plays, both Script-In-Hand Series readings of his Ibsen translations and his lone radio show

Eric changed my life and set me on a path when he taught me that writing is an act of love. When I was struggling even to love myself, he saw something special in me and set out to help me see it as well. I could go on and on but, truthfully, it’s tough to find the words. Still, my professor, mentor, and friend taught me that “finding words” is a really lovely way to to spend your time on earth. I love you, Eric. Thank you. Until we meet again …
– Matthew Greene, one of Eric’s students, whose plays ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA and GOOD STANDING have premiered at Plan-B

Can a writer be a muse? You are mine. Funny and brave, humble and brilliant, you and the characters and stories we have shared will live forever in my heart. I don’t know what happens after this life but they are lucky to have your wit, empathy, kindness, and beautiful words. Rest easy friend. You are loved.
– Stephanie Howell, who created roles in BORDERLANDS, 3 and THE ICE FRONT

I don’t know that I would be the playwright that I am without Eric’s example or influence. What a wealth of knowledge he possessed—he never taught from notes, but all his facts were intricate and complete—yet without hesitation, he would turn and offer it all to his students. Such a generous and supportive soul. He was an excellent teacher, an exceptional writer, and an even better man. He has been supportive of me and my work from the start, and I know that I have found the courage to write about difficult things because he had that courage first.
– Melissa Leilani Larson, one of Eric’s students, whose plays PILOT PROGRAM, THE EDIBLE COMPLEX and THE POST OFFICE have premiered at Plan-B

What Eric Samuelsen gave to the world of theatre, and our piece of it in particular, is simply immense. Eric brought joy to every room and everyone in it. His love for his craft, for the stories he told and the characters in them, and for the people he trusted to bring them to life, was as full as his wonderful smile and as great as his laughter. My first Eric play was the Script-In-Hand Series reading of his translation of Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL HOUSE in 2011. It was astonishingly beautiful and he spoke so eloquently about it, as he did with everything he put to paper. His plays were rich with his love of history and culture, his words so beautifully expressive of the human experience. He was meticulous and incredibly detailed in his work. I always knew I was safe with him. I loved every moment I got to spend with him and I will be forever grateful to have shared the sacred space and some precious time on earth with him. He was a brilliant mind, a creative genius, a kind and generous soul. He’s gone too soon, but this great man will never be forgotten.
– Jay Perry, who created roles in RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA, CLEARING BOMBS and THE ICE FRONT (and appeared in the Script-In-Hand Series reading of A DOLL HOUSE)

You made me a better person, parent, artist and friend. You said it best in the last text you sent me, which is now one of my prized possessions: “Thank you for the many years of fellowship, friendship, partnership, all of it joyful, all of it filled with love. Eric and Jerry, and Plan-B. It’s been a great run.” Thank you Eric.
– Jerry Rapier, who directed AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, NOTHING PERSONAL, THE KREUTZER SONATA and THE ICE FRONT

As a confused, angsty, ambivalent teenager trying to navigate my way out of the LDS church, Eric held space for the ambiguous and painful questions I was living through. BORDERLANDS caught me in the early stages of my development as an actor and as a human being. It was a privilege to be included in such a difficult conversation and to be welcomed into a diverse community of Utah artists. I often felt unsure at that time, afraid to offend, deeply torn. The character Eric had written, Brian, confronted things I didn’t have the words or confidence to confront. Eric’s bravery in writing is deeply commendable, and I am endlessly grateful for his profound influence on my life path. Rest in peace, Eric. Thank you.
– Topher Rasmussen, who created roles in BORDERLANDS and THE ICE FRONT

Eric you have given me two incredible gifts. The first one: as an actor I always felt it important for me to work hard in my craft and fight against any box that someone might place around me. I always just wanted to be in the ART. One of those times was being a part of THE KREUTZER SONATA. I will never forget the incredibly inspired and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as the day we went to the and listened to Kathryn [Eberle, violin] and Jason [Hardink, piano] play Beethoven’s Sonata. I’d never experienced anything so intimate and alive. It was unbelievable. I knew at the moment that I was finally in the ART. I was given access to be a part of the creation of something so unique, so incredible, so passionate, and so magical. That was a gift that you gave each and every one of us, those in it, those that witnessed it and those that inspired it. Thank you for sharing your ART with me and with the world.
     The second one was THE ICE FRONT. I was just thrilled to be part of any play you wrote. Anders was an opportunity to just let down the guard that I have put up most of my life – I didn’t have to play straight! Finally! I was just able to be and live and breath and play Anders without that little voice inside my head that says ‘play straight’. With that came the role of lifetime. I was carried away into another world and time and truly live in the life of another human. You wrote such an incredible role and imbued him with such passion, love, humor, ambition, fear and talent. I love you for that. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Thank you for giving us your ART, your words, your stories, your love. Thank you my friend.
– Robert Scott Smith, who created roles in THE KREUTZER SONATA and THE ICE FRONT

Eric has always been a light in my life. After he read my first ten minute play he told me that I was a writer, that it was obvious to everyone, and I never looked back. He was a refuge for so many students who didn’t fit the oppressive environment at BYU, and made everyone feel accepted and loved. He may have saved my struggling self more than once, bringing me back from the brink of despair.
     Eric has mentored me and championed me every step of the way. After he saw my play BURN he looked at me and said he felt like his head had just been cut off, and honestly, that was one of the biggest affirmations of my life, because his writing is something that I’ve always aspired to. His writing is honest. It’s raw. It’s deeply human—all the things that Eric was.
     
I took a million classes from Eric, and assisted him in the classroom multiple times, and he was like a walking bibliography – just the smartest guy. Everyone loved his classes, reveled  in his knowledge, and enjoyed being close to him. I count myself as one of the lucky ones to be around him so much.
     I love Eric deeply and profoundly. I can only hope to be half the person, writer, and mentor that he was. I love you so much, Eric. May you be cloaked in peace and rest.
– Morag Shepherd, one of Eric’s students, whose plays NOT ONE DROP and FLORA MEETS A BEE premiered at Plan-B

Eric Samuelsen was truly one of a kind. He made every room he walked into a more interesting place to be. He was brilliant and kind and generous. Each time I was lucky enough to work with him I was lifted up – not only because he was a wonderful writer, but because he was a truly wonderful person. He encouraged me, inspired me, and helped me become better than I would otherwise be. I am filled with gratitude that I got to be a small part of this great man’s life.
– Christy Summerhays, who created roles in 3 and THE ICE FRONT (and appeared in the Script-In-Hand Series reading of GHOSTS)

In Loving Memory of Eric Samuelsen

We are heartbroken at the loss of Eric Samuelsen.

We are honored to have been his artistic home.

We are blessed to have been his friend.

We are humbled to call him family.

He made our world a better place simply by being in it.

He created rich, complex worlds that we had the honor of exploring.

He advocated for the equality of all, for the protection of all, at great personal cost. Many LGBTQ people are alive today because of him.

His heart was bigger than can be described in words; his laugh was bigger than any room; his knowledge of music was terrifyingly complete.

He was our Eric.

We were overwhelmed to learn that he has requested that donations be made to us in his name, so that we may continue to serve other Utah playwrights in the way we served him.

Please click here to make you donation. And if you would like to join us as we celebrate Eric with a free reading of BORDERLANDS, Eric’s most personal play on Saturday, October 5 at 2pm, please click here for free-but-required tickets.

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