In Memoriam: Ryan Colwell
past July, we were shocked at the loss of a beloved member of our
Community, when Ryan Matthew Colwell, 32, of Brooklyn, passed away in
his sleep from unknown causes just a few days after his birthday.
had worked extensively throughout Chicago and here in New York. In 2005
he collaborated with peers to form The Narcissists under which he has
performed the solo shows Remembering the Future
and Johnny Bad vs. Jackie True: A ruffian poet and his muse
, and directed the ensemble monologue show C. Commute
2007 Ryan had worked with Toy Box Theatre Company as co-artistic
director and production manager but continued to act, appearing as
Poggio in their production of Tis Pity She's a Whore
(2010 Nominee for Outstanding Original Music), The Stud in Woyzeck
, and Lance, the villain in The Short Fall
is always tragic when we lose someone so early in their life. His
sudden passing is reminiscent of another shocking loss in our community
in 2011, when the passing of the beloved Aaron Baker devastated the
family at Williamsburg's The Brick Theatre.
Ryan was born "three
days after the firecracks" in 1980 in Rockville, Connecticut, then moved
to Kansas in 1988. He graduated from Blue Valley North High School in
1998 and from the University of Kansas in 2002 with a B.A. in Theater
& Film. He moved to Chicago then to New York City to pursue a career
in acting but his passion and gifts in the theatre led him to write,
direct and produce as well.
I talked with Jonathan Barsness who
was Ryan's Co-Artistic Director at Toy Box Theatre Company about his
memories and thoughts of Ryan.CB:
What was Ryan like to work with?JB:
He was absolutely fantastic as a producer. He was extremely organized
and level-headed. He was the budget master and the keeper of the
calendar, and he always managed to stay objective and never got carried
away by the stress of production. He was "that" guy. He was a good
actor, but he really enjoyed being in charge of the production being a
producer and production manager.CB:
What was he like personally?JB:
He was very patient. He didn't have any enemies and could get along
with everyone who met him - egotistical or difficult actors or
designers, small budgets lots of stresses, he was always calm and
extraordinarily diplomatic, he always managed to keep things calm.CB:
I'm sure it his been difficult without him, what kind of impact has his passing had on Toy Box?JB:
Absolutely devastating. We don't make a lot of money operating Toy Box
Theatre....we were good friends who enjoyed working together...its been
six months and we are getting back on our feet and figuring out how to
move forward; both on a practical level - Ryan was the organizer- and
also the emotional level...but this is a strong group of friends.
obituary said "Ryan loved his life, his family and his many friends. He
valued truth and sincerity and was gracious, genuine and funny. He was a
true gentleman, a role model and an inspiration."
He is missed.
this time of year it is nice to reflect on all we have, on our family,
friends and chosen-families on Off Off Broadway and beyond. Take a
moment to thank them for their hard work and let them know how valuable
they are. Love, Peace and Joy to you all.