Clear Space Theatre Company in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and The Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership have announced Karen Richards the first recipient of the partnership. The initiative, the brainchild of Broadway stage manager James FitzSimmons, will enhance audience outreach and participation to individuals and communities that don't often see their stories reflected onstage or may not have the financial means to attend the theatre.
The partnership's work with Richards will revolve around Clear Space's upcoming production of Jeff Talbott's The Submission, directed by and starring Richards.
"Karen has a clear-eyed vision for this production and what it has to offer the community," says FitzSimmons. "[W]e both truly want to start conversations that are needed in the community."
FitzSimmons, a Broadway stage manager on such productions as The Boys in the Band and Present Laughter, created the partnership in honor of his colleague and friend Rebecca Luker, who passed away in 2020 from ALS. The pair worked together on a number of readings over their careers, along with Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway production of Death Takes a Holiday.
Originally from Jamaica, Richards is a graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she majored in theatre performance and minored in musical theatre. Her favorite performance credits include Deloris in Sister Act, Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, Gary Coleman in Avenue Q, and Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
“As an actor, I have had many people tell me that theatre is not therapy, but for me that is what it has been," shares Richards. "Through the stage I have reclaimed myself, and I want to share that same opportunity with others. After The Submission I want people to start the conversations that we have either shied away from or have only touched on lightly. That conversation is that representation matters, our stories need to be told—but at what cost? Do we have to keep sacrificing ourselves in order to see that day arrive? Can you, the audience, put yourselves in their shoes and choose to make a change?”
The Submission is set to run June 3-5 at Clear Space Theatre Company. For more information, visit ClearSpaceTheatre.org.