Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nick Koesters

I first met Nick Koesters (b. February 9, 1971) after a performance of Eight Impressions of a Lunatic, in which I played the part of Edouard Manet.  A mutual friend had pointed him out to me before, to me he looked like a dirty hippie with long black hair and desperate-looking eyes.  When he stepped to me I thought he was going to take a swing at me or something and I was ready to duck behind Allen Branstein (which is a trick, let me tell you) and scream for Tracey to protect me, but instead Nick just told me how amazing he thought I was in the show.  I thought he was going to cry.  I had like, two lines in that show, but he was right, I was incredible.  I thanked him and worried about the future.

Nick was a member of Kaiser Permanante’s educational outreach tours at that time, and maybe we never would have done a show together (after one particularly difficult party at Jill’s place on Hampshire he was high as a monster and spent about an hour pitching this sketch improv show at me while I gazed longingly at the front door) only Bohan was got a job with Great Lakes (Jesus) and stepped out of Bad Epitaph Theater Company’s production of Wendy McLeod’s Sin.  Bohan was playing Sloth, I was cast as Envy.  So the director asked me to play Sloth, and brought Nick in for Envy.

Photo by Anthony Gray

This made no sense to me - I was perfect for Envy, I am Envy.  But I hadn’t really gotten to know Nick.  I thought he was dopey and sweet, but he has a deadly mean streak. After a performance one night I asked him to keep it down as he railed backstage about this asshole in the front row who had the nerve to bring a dog into the audience, being blind is no fucking excuse.

“Hey, don’t bad mouth our audience,” I said. I was the artistic director of the company. I thought it was important to keep it cool, especially as we were performing in a dinky art gallery and I was horrified the blind guy or his dog might hear him.

Nick snapped off my jaw and pulled out my spine through my mouth.

That night Nick, Al and I had our first read-through at the Beck Center for The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged), the best production of that stupid play ever produced.


Nick was good to Bad Epitaph.  Bad Epitaph would have been weak without him.  He has a beautiful singing voice. Who thought it was a good idea to make a modern musical adaptation of Lysistrata?  Me.  Who thought it was a good idea to have Nick perform the rousing R&B number Welcome, composed by Dennis Yurich?  Me.  He was in that show, Cloud Nine, The Wayward Angel, The Alchemist and State of Siege.

They called us the next Reuben & Dorothy.

I wrung as much work out of him as possible before he went Equity and I would be forced to pay him.

After that he was forced to stage manage and direct for him. God, I worked him like a dog.  He was an ardent supporter of the I Hate This project and was my first stage manager for that production, taking it to the Minnesota Fringe with me where he caught Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss and asked to direct it with BETC.

Gwen Hairy Gwen Gloss
Photo by Anthony Gray

That show was hilarious.  He staged it at Zen Salon in Ohio City - a real salon.  Least expensive set we ever had to build.  You didn’t see it, did you?  That show was hilarious.  And you suck.

Let’s see, how else did I use Nick … he was Laertes in that production of Sarah Morton’s Hamlet I directed … and in all of my radio dramas for WCPN, I Hate This, The Machine Stops and Fortitude.  We were also naked on the radio together.  That was a special time. Naked.

Since then he has been too busy acting in real shows where people pay him money and stuff. And I have been distressed to discover that in my absence he’s gotten … really good.  Saw him in three shows this year, Innoculations, Side Effects May Include and My Barking Dog.  It’s the best work I’ve ever seen him do.  Amazing. Christ, he’s focused.  Daniel says he could watch Nick watch TV for hours.  Did you miss My Barking Dog?  You suck.

Nick Koesters "Around Noon" LoveFest 2011

So, of course, he's leaving.  Not dead, leaving.  He was offered a position with a real company to do real acting in Virginia, a real state.  I wish him luck.  Because I've seen him naked, and he needs all the luck he can get.

Welcome from Lysistrata (2000) music and lyrics by Dennis Yurich
(It'll Be Fine When You Reach) Cloud Nine from Cloud Nine (2000) music by Dennis Yurich
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, adapted by Eric Coble

ALSO: Why Nick Koesters Is A Genius

1 comment:

  1. This is a real homage to Nick! Since I arrived in Cleveland and got active in the theater circles...I became a Nick groupie and followed him in whatever he played in...didn't care what it was...he always made it very special and "live"
    theatre. What a joy! and what a loss to lose him...but I know he will be back...And those New Yorkers better appreciate the fine talent and outrageousness (if thats a word!) If not...there is always a stage waiting for him here! All the luck Nick. You will be dearly missed.rachelle Neher