Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 8
Parting is such sweet sorrow
BY AMY ASMAN
Patricia M. Troxel, one of the driving creative forces behind Santa Barbara County’s PCPA Theaterfest, died on April 21 after more than four years of battling breast cancer.
Troxel was known and respected throughout the region for her work as a teacher, director, and literary manager. Her vast body of work as a director at PCPA included such productions as The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Pan, Sylvia, The Weir, and Much Ado About Nothing. She also served as the resident dramaturge for more than 55 plays.
PCPA Artistic Director Mark Booher spoke about his longtime colleague and friend in a recent interview with the Sun.
“A lot of people will say, ‘I know Patricia’s name,’ but they don’t really know her because most of director’s work is done in the dark,” Booher said.
Audiences might not be familiar with the woman behind 22 seasons of high-quality local theater, but Troxel’s students were deeply touched by her knowledge and warmth.
Booher said it’s “been both heartwarming and heart wrenching” to see the tremendous outpouring of love and admiration from Troxel’s students at PCPA and Cal Poly, SLO, where she worked in the English department.
“I’m thinking of the number of young women, specifically, who studied under Patricia, and the incredible influence she had on them not only as a teacher, but as a role model,” Booher said. “She really encouraged them to find their voices [as theater professionals].”
Booher said it’s common in the theater world, and other creative industries, to develop a love-hate relationship with one’s audience. But that wasn’t the case with Troxel.
“Not only was Patricia brilliant as an intellect, but she had the disposition to share that with her students and colleagues,” he said. “She never lorded her cognitive capacity over her students, she was so genuinely enthusiastic about learning.”
He said Troxel’s students lovingly referred to her as “The Troxicon” because “she was a veritable Lexicon of information.”
As the company’s resident dramaturge, Troxel offered focused, expert research on the contextual world in which each play existed. Whether it was Ancient Greece or contemporary Baltimore, Booher said Troxel always delivered a treasure trove of information. One of her greatest talents, he said, was that she could “give context in a way that was both digestible and helpful to the acting company.”
A seasoned traveler who briefly lived in Turkey as a young woman, Troxel often drew from her own life experiences to create exotic and exciting worlds on stage.
For example, she set her 2009 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare’s whimsical forest romance, in India and incorporated circus techniques into the show.
Booher, who played Oberon, the fairy king, called working with Troxel “a little art holiday that just happened to be our job.”
“Of course, I’m sure I had a unique perspective because we were good friends and I was her boss, and I’m an opinionated director myself,” he said.
The last show Troxel directed at PCPA was another Shakespearean masterpiece, The Tempest. As Troxel grew increasingly ill, Booher said, the company rallied together to support her and to get the show to the stage.
“She had such commitment to the show, she was so tough, and she worked so hard that we daren’t do anything else than give our complete commitment to presenting a fantastic piece of art,” he said, adding that the company will continue to emulate Troxel’s caring, determined spirit now that she’s gone.
“[We’re going to] put our energy and hurt back into something that is essentially life-giving, which is good storytelling,” he said. “Creating good art is the antithesis of death.”
There will be a public celebration of life for Troxel on May 26 at 7 p.m. at the Solvang Festival Theater, 420 2nd St., in Solvang. She asked that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be made in her honor to the PCPA Foundation.
For more information, visit facebook.com/pcpatheaterfest/events or call Lori Coulter at 928-7731, Ext. 4114.