Theatre Hero Joyce Kulhawik Loves Boston

I LOVE BOSTON and have ever since I first arrived  here at age 17 to attend Simmons College. The only city I ever really knew before then was NYC. So I’ll never forget driving into Copley Square with my parents, looking around, and saying, “This is cute- where’s the city?” And they said, “You’re in it.” Little did I know that this small but resonant place would reveal itself to me in rich layers over the years. My whole professional life has grown as has the cultural life of this complex town. You might say we grew up together.

The first production I ever reviewed on television was MY FAIR LADY at the METROPOLITAN CENTER (now THE WANG) starring Rex Harrison in 1981!  And of course there were a handful of homegrown shows– SHEAR MADNESS at the CHARLES PLAYHOUSE welcomed me onto their stage and I raced back to the station barely making my nightly deadline. I remember THE LYRIC STAGE when it was tucked into an attic on Charles Street, so cramped a space, our camera and crew could barely fit without becoming part of the show. There was the beginning of the AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER and its new Artistic Director–fresh from Yale and his famous student Meryl Streep– Robert Brustein; he invited all the critics for lunch at THE HARVEST in Cambridge to get acquainted and welcome us into what would become one of the foremost regional theaters in the country. THE HARTMAN THEATER hosted Jane Alexander and Tammy Grimes as they played Ibsen and Saw respectively; shortly thereafter, the witty Michael Maso arrived with the wonderful HUNTINGTON THEATRE CO.

I am amazed at how many people in this community have stayed close to those roots like me: Karen McDonald who sprang from THE NEXT MOVE and later blossomed at the A.R.T. Spiro Veloudos who roamed the ramparts of THE PUBLICK THEATRE and landed at the now-expanded LYRIC STAGE; Sandra Shipley whom I first saw at BOSTON SHAKESPEARE CO. back in 1981, who continues to resurface, most recently at the BCA.

We now have, despite the harsh climate (even harsher after Obama’s latest budget cuts) a thriving, variegated, homegrown theater scene with companies large, small, grand, modest, fringe and experimental fleshing out every corner of the city. I am so excited by the new Calderwood Pavilion, the Paramount, The Modern, and The Opera House which I remember when it was still encrusted with scary things and haunted with possibility. And I am still intrigued by the tiny, mysterious spaces where companies like WHISTLER IN THE DARK spin theater out of thin air.  Spring is in the air, and yes, I am still here looking toward the sun, very happy to take my seat in the dark waiting for something to sprout.

To learn more about Joyce Kulhawik visit her blog Spontaneous Acts of Joyce

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