Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership
The Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership’s goal is to celebrate the life and career of Rebecca Luker by creating professional leadership opportunities in the theater for individuals from underserved communities to better represent the diversity of our communities.
James FitzSimmons, a Delaware native, started the Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership to honor the actor and friend who passed away in 2020 from ALS. Fitzsimmons and Luker worked together on several readings and the musical DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY. Rebecca was one of the most talented, kindest, funniest and most committed humans on this planet. Her career on Broadway was legendary but she was also fiercely committed to racial justice, equal rights, and reproductive rights.
2020 was a very difficult year for FitzSimmons, he lost both his mother and brother, as well as many friends due to the pandemic. He was, however, particularly distraught when he heard about Rebecca Luker’s passing. “I thought if anyone could beat ALS it would be Rebecca. She had that glorious, angelic soprano which would allay a sharp wit and sometimes a mouth like a truck driver!” He immediately knew that he wanted to do something to honor her, though with NY theater shuttered it was not necessarily the best time. Then with the George Floyd murder and a new racial reckoning happening around the country, he wanted to make sure that whatever was established would reflect the changes the country and theatre community were experiencing.
FitzSimmons used money he inherited from his mother’s estate to create the Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership. This partnership would honor Luker’s commitment to racial justice, and equal rights through the theatre community. “I admired the tenacity and drive that David Button and Wesley Paulson (Clear Space Theatre) had in keeping the theater operating for 17 years and shepherding it into the future with a new home, and I thought this would be an excellent way to help them grow.
The first Rebeca Luker Partnership is with Karen Richards.
Karen Antoinette Richards, originally from Jamaica, is a graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Theatre Performance with a minor in Musical Theatre. Some of Karen’s credits include: Deloris in SISTER ACT, Oda Mae Brown in GHOST: the Musical, Farmer’s Wife in MOTHER COURAGE, Gary Coleman in AVENUE Q, Emma in STUPID FUCKING BIRD, Effie White in DREAMGIRLS, Medda Larkin in NEWSIES, Ursula in THE LITTLE MERMAID, and Motormouth Maybelle in HAIRSPRAY. She is looking forward to being a part of something bigger than her through learning and creating with this fellowship and Clear Space Theatre.
The partnership with Karen Richards will enhance audience outreach and participation to those individuals and communities that don’t often see their stories reflected onstage or those that may not have the financial means to attend the theater. James FitzSimmons states, “Karen has a clear-eyed vision for this production and what it has to offer the community. And we both truly want to start conversations that are needed in the community.” The expectation is that Ms. Richards will be able to meet with student groups and other community organizations in Sussex County and invite them to attend a performance of THE SUBMISSION with a post-performance discussion. Karen Richards asserts, “As an actor, I have had many people tell me that theater is not therapy but for me that is what it has been. 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?”
To donate to the Rebecca Luker Theatrical Partnership, please click here- https://clearspacetheatre.
Also, please consider visiting or making a donation to PROJECT ALS at www.projectals.org