Our good friend and mentor/teacher, Jim Schlader, died this weekend. Jim and his wife Harriet were the driving force behind Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park. Jim was 96. To say that he had been influential in my life would be a gross understatement. Anna and I spent much of our youth in and around Woodminster. Much of what I know about being a performer, about living a life in the theatre I learned from Jim and Harriet. It was not a relationship without turbulence, but I loved him and sought his approval as one seeks the approval of respected teacher.
One of Jim’s favorite quotes was something that Konstantin Stanislavsky (the great Russian theatre artist) said: “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” Jim lived that philosophy. He was a humble man with a great gift. He could sing like nobody’s business. He had a twinkle in his eye and the art within him was easy for anyone to see. Jim loved the art in himself, and he shared that love with great generosity. Whenever I work in the theatre I am always aware of Jim’s presence. He gave me a great gift. I will miss him.
UPDATE: Brenda Payton wrote a nice piece about Jim and Harriet a few years ago.