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TBA Online: News & Features: July 2019

Remembering Reid Davis

Wednesday, July 3, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rotimi Agabiaka
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by Kevin Clarke
Last week, our theatre community lost a beautiful soul: Reid Davis. 

Theatre friends weave their way in and out of your life in unpredictable ways—in the audition room, onstage, offstage, post-show. We get close to each other and then we might not see each other for a while, but that closeness remains. I felt that way about Reid.

Days after he passed, I watched my Facebook wall brim with posts about Reid. Theatre Bay Area has asked me to share my testimonial, along with a small sample of the posts which inspired mine. There are countless others; over and over again appear the words “joyous,” “kind,” “open,” and “big-hearted.”

Kevin Clarke, actor
One could easily assume theatre is full o’ queers. Well, honey, in the gay Bay, that’s just not often very true. But when you *are* in a show where you know—or you discover, in a coming-out-at-the-workplace way—another queer on the team, sweet bonds form.
Over the last two days, my facebook has been overflowing with testimonials about the loss of one of the first queers I ever worked with: Reid Davis. And what a queer he was. Outspoken. Funny AF. Shady (in the super-observant, non-nasty way). Sex positive. Theatrically passionate. Quirky. Fast thinking (and fast talking!). Fun—but ever ready to drop into the deep talk. One of a kind.
For me, he existed at a nexus of my worlds: the theatre kids (both his colleagues and the grown-up students he helped shape) and the scores of my gay friends, AIDS LifeCycle riders, among whom his star shone brightly on the road to a cure. I don’t often get to see these worlds unite in the way I’ve seen here in their almost identical epitaphs for Reid. It’s heartbreaking, but also strangely beautiful, in a way he would admire.
Want to honor Reid? Go see a play. Ride a bike to get there, darlin’.

Jessica Holt, director
One of my first memories of Reid was at the [UC Berkeley PhD program] fall potluck that kickstarted the year—he was just so warm and welcoming and genuine. He provided invaluable counsel to me during one of my darkest hours. Always so generous, so kind, so empathetic. I know he transformed the lives of so many with his many gifts and his infectious smile. He was an example of love, courage and joy. 

Donovan Jones, AIDS LifeCycle
Reid was one of those guys who brought light into any space. Intelligent, witty, filled with flirtatious and impish energy. His presence anywhere demanded attention, as you weren’t quite sure what he’d say next, but you knew it would be something that would make you laugh or smile. I met him through the AIDS LifeCycle six years ago, where he worked through personal pain to finish each day’s ride, and would come to a meal wrapped in a pashmina almost larger than his small frame, giggling as he threw the ends around his neck, with a story that’d make you blush.
His determination to ride everyday as far as he could, with his unwavering humor and deep humanity, was a daily reminder to love the journey despite the obstacles.

Keith Hennessy, MFA, PhD, performance artist & activist
[Reid] was the outside (non UCDavis) member of my MFA and PhD dissertation committees. He was the only queer on both committees and represented strongly. I love how he dressed cute and flamboyant for the formal academic meetings and did an amazingly thorough job giving notes to my dissertation. His doctoral work on sissy theater was a big inspiration and affirmation and one of the main reasons I included a long poem called Sissy (about swish and femme faggots in the gay lib 70s) in my dissertation. 

Susannah Martin, director, educator
He was always kind, always loving, always compassionate, always inspiring, always a teacher and mentor to anyone he came in contact with. I will be forever grateful to him for being one of the first welcoming souls that brought me into this community that I have called “home” and “family” ever since. 

Mellie Katakalos, set designer
So full of love, compassion, and joy. The last time I saw you in 2014 at ATHE in the Arizona desert, you ran at me with arms flung open the minute you caught my eye. We spent our time catching up, sharing our love of teaching, theatre, life! You are an absolute rainbow.  

Kimmy Dooley, actor, director
I showed up to work [Shotgun] box office and he greeted me with striped overalls and a GIANT HUG. 
He was so authentic and so honest. He was DEEPLY compassionate and someone who was REALLY TRULY PRESENT with you when he was with you.
A bright ball of love is gone from this world, but certainly not from our hearts.

Dave Maier, actor, fight choreographer, educator
From Reid Davis I learned that it’s OK for an artist/educator to lead from the heart. You are so loved and will be missed.