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Remembering Wade Williamson

Written by Eric Eberwein

I’ve been thinking about Wade Williamson and what he meant to OC theatre.

I don’t remember when or where I first met Wade, but I will always remember how he helped elevate the local theatre scene. He had a unique arc in OC theatre: director > artistic director > actor > stage manager + OCTG board member. As AD of Vanguard Theatre Ensemble for something like a decade, he was one of the leaders of the OC storefront theatre movement that took the local theatre scene to a much better, more relevant and much more interesting place. He didn’t have to encourage and produce seasons of newer, bolder, and more gripping kinds of plays, but he did. He had a vision for quality, for adventure, and he followed through on it.

This past week, I remembered that Wade directed the second staging of my first produced play, The Hillary Expedition, in one of the Fullerton College Theatre Festivals. Wade believed in that play and the playwriting talent that was locally rising. He also made a home for the Orange County Playwrights Alliance at the Vanguard, where we frequently met in our early days. We were so thankful for his support and affirmation, which helped us get to where we are today.

Wade was not a nostalgist; he was an artist. He was interested in where theatre was at now, and where it was going – and he helped OC theatre take big steps forward.

At this Saturday’s Orange County Theatre Guild meeting, there’ll be a panel discussion about producing new works. Wade Williamson put that panel together. We’ll think of him as we think about the future.

Thank you, Wade. Here’s to you.

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