In Memory of David Gauthier

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Another op’nin, another show
In Philly, Boston, or Baltimo’
A chance for stage folks to say hello!
Another op’nin of another show…
Four weeks, you rehearse and rehearse
Three weeks, and it couldn’t be worse
One week, will it ever be right?
Then out of the hat it’s that big first night…

– Cole Porter  from “Kiss Me Kate”

I enjoyed working with David Gauthier, which I did really for only a few weeks each year as we prepared posters, programs and promotion for the musical productions. He had some sharp edges to him as well as some surprises, which made my conversations with him both exasperating and reliably entertaining. I will always remember our tussle over the poster art for Pirates of Penzance, which I loved and he hated. I tried to use his colour blindness against him as judge of the poster’s artistic merit. He questioned my juvenile taste for its cartoonish look. In the end, we shook hands and continued to be friends (aided by the fact that he let me have my way).

“I’m not a big fan of musicals,” I admitted to him early in our acquaintance. “Neither am I,” he responded, which for ever after kept me from taking him too much at face value. If he lacked a consuming passion for the musical genre, it was impossible to tell – he threw himself into each production anyway, making sure his cast, crew and musician collaborators had that occasionally heartbreaking but always exhilarating experience that was a hallmark of “the musical” at SMUS.

I remember on more than one occasion running into him in the parking garage at the end of a busy day of rehearsals. I would ask him how it was coming. “It’s a disaster,” he invariably replied. “You say that every year,” became my stock answer, “and yet it always turns out great.” And so it did: year after year, the predicted disaster coalesced by opening night into the dazzling spectacle we had all come to anticipate.

Last June, David and I went for lunch at 5th Street Bar and Grill to mark the end of our time as SMUS colleagues and to talk about his hopes and plans for the next few years. We said good-bye and I went away with the pleasant expectation of other lunches and more conversation, later on down the road. My window of opportunity closed on Tuesday, as it did for many others who were hoping to know David for a long time to come. We’re feeling that loss today.

Condolences from our Community

by Brian Christensen ’11
David was my teacher, my mentor, and my friend, and he was profoundly important to me. What I will remember most about David is his unwavering commitment to his students, always willing to help anyone who showed even the slightest interest in what he taught. I will remember how giving he was with his time; the hours I spent in his office analyzing text and doing character work, and the other hours I spent with him talking hockey and listening to stories. I will remember his rehearsals, and how he constantly pushed me to be a better actor. I will remember his passion for theatre, and how excited he would get every time we hit the MacPherson stage. Most of all I will remember his steadfast determination for his students to not give up on their dreams, a pledge that he lived by every day. I would not be who I am today, nor would I be doing what I love every day, had it not been for David. I will miss him more than I can say.

by Aaron Brook ’07
A friend to all, a caring mentor, and a shining star of excellence within his field and his community. He will be dearly missed in a long line of wonderful theatre directors. As a personal part of his history within SMUS, I can say with certainty that his dynasty will not be forgotten. Thoughts and prayers to those close to him, and all others grieving this loss.

by Erin Egan, former colleague
I am shocked to hear this. David was a wonderful guide last year when I came to SMUS to teach drama and English. He was always there to make sure I was “finding my way around” and his office was often filled with eager drama students who came to talk not only about the musical, but their plans for after graduation. He was also the proudest of fathers. My thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, and to the students and staff at SMUS.

by Liz Guilbault ’08
David Gauthier had a profound influence on me and my theatre career. I was relatively new to theatre when I entered the Senior School at SMUS, and through him I discovered the indescribable magic of live theatre. For four years David was my mentor, my teacher, my guide, and my friend, helping me find my footing in the acting world. I am now a professional actor, and a lot of what led me to choose this career is due to David’s advice and the experiences he offered to me. I cannot express my sadness at hearing of his passing, and my thoughts are with his family.

If you wish to share your memories of David, you can do so on our Facebook page or visit the counselling department to sign a card for David’s family.

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  1. To say that David loomed large in my life during my time at SMUS would be an understatement. And I don’t mean the frequent experience of his formidable figure looming over me in a response to my misbehaving in his classes or rehearsals, though those experiences have not been forgotten either. I had a unique, special relationship with David, the likes of which were not replicated with any of my other teachers. He was an individual at St. Michaels, and I never backed away from his personal instincts, thoughts or feelings about theatre (and other subjects), and I had occasion to experience this often, considering the time I devoted to theatre at SMUS, both inside and outside class time. However, our discussions never felt like that of a student and pupil; they felt like debates. We each had countless creative ideas in any of the theatrical contexts we found ourselves in, but he allowed us to work through them together, like peers. He treated my thoughts and ideas with the same respect as his own, and it was the fact that I could count on David to be so genuine that allowed me to trust him, such that he could help foster and develop my ideas where almost no other teachers I’ve had, before or since, have been able to do. Like most everyone else, I wish selfishly that I had taken the opportunity to spend more time with him since my leaving SMUS, but also like most everyone else, I know his time with us was anything but time wasted. Thank you for everything David. Your belief in me still motivates me to this day.

  2. I was a drama student of Mr. Gauthier’s at Steveston Sr. High in Richmond (1992-1994). He was easily one of the best teachers I ever had. I remember being very surprised when I first joined his class at the vast number of former students who would show up between classes or during breaks to visit him (sometimes years and years) after they had already graduated. In all my years of schooling I’ve never seen a teacher effect so many people in such a way. I am very sorry to hear of his passing.

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