One Year Later

Allison Powell Filament Theatre Ensemble Artistic Director Julie Ritchey reflects on 2011, and our dear friend Allison Powell.

To say that I am grateful for the many blessings that filled this last year would be an understatement. Filament has grown in ways I never thought imaginable in such a short time. From new supporters, audience, collaborators, our astonishing advisory board members – we have been graced with so many generous people, ready to cheer us on and provide support and insight whenever we need it. It has been a year of tremendous joy, and for that I am profoundly thankful.

This New Year also carries with it a degree of sadness, however, as January 2 marks the one year anniversary of Allison Powell’s passing. With every step forward Filament has taken, I have felt a pang of sorrow at the realization that Allie is not here to share in our celebrations. We recently performed Choose Thine Own Adventure at a children’s theatre in Wisconsin, and it was so marvelous and surreal to hear her play spoken again. Her presence was so strong, through all the jokes and irreverence and thoughtful use of text – in a way it was like having her in the room again.

As I reflect on this anniversary, mixed in among the tears and the ache of missing my friend, I feel a kind of gladness. The depth of sorrow comes from a depth of love, and I feel so fortunate to have known and loved Allie.

I think back to the day I met Allie: She had seen online that Filament was looking to hire a business manager, and she applied with the most

Allison Powell Choose Thine Own Adventure William Shakespeare

Opening Night of "Choose"

heart-warming cover letter I’ve ever read (I still have it saved, and read it often). We met for an interview, and the second she walked out the door I called Peter and Christian to say that my conversation with Allie felt more like the best first date of all time than it did a job interview. That moment was so characteristic of every conversation I ever had with Allie – she is funny, charming, intelligent, and beautiful. As soon as the rest of the company met her, they fell in love just like I did. How could they not? How lucky we are that her life brought her to Chicago, that she saw that listing, that we happened to meet, to collaborate, to become friends.

How astonishing it is for any one of us to find ourselves on the earth at the same time as each other. Think of all the events that led up to your birth. If your mom had been sick on the day of the party. If your grandmother had moved to a different town. If your great-grandfather hadn’t survived the war. If, if, if, back and back and back in time. If any one moment had aligned differently, you would not be here. What a miracle it is – and as an atheist I do not use the word miracle lightly – that with billions of people on the earth, and infinite individual human choices, we find ourselves sitting across the table from any one of the remarkable people we are fortunate enough to call friends.

Allie helped lay the groundwork for all the developments this last year has brought. I see her work, vision, and ideas with every step we take. She helped to point us in a new direction, and I will work tirelessly to help finish the work that she could not. I am so grateful that Allison Powell is part of my story, of Filament’s story – of all of our story.  I miss my friend. I will always miss my friend.

As 2012 begins, let us celebrate. Let us remember the miracle that in the vast sea of people and places and choices, we have found each other. Let us hold our friends close, and cherish the overlapping of our lives. Let us treasure all the moments, good and bad, that have led us to be right where we are, loving the people we love. Let us not forget for a moment what a gift it is that we have shared another year together, and that we will share in this next year to come.