Remarks by Joe Gardner, Professor of Theatre at Dr. Barber's memorial service.
The director Peter Hall said that a director’s main function is to sit there in rehearsal and judge the quality of life portrayed, whether it is alive, particular, unique. It is of now – of tonight, of this minute. As it is done it vanishes; it cannot be repeated, only re-created.As we celebrate the life of Rupert Barber, a man who brought so much joy to so many, we are grateful for this moment of arrested time to reflect and contemplate on what he gave us, even while we share our sense of loss for a life so genuine, so remarkable and unique that it can never be repeated.
|Rupert spent his life empowering others: to know, to understand, to do. He also taught us by example to savor life at each moment of every journey, with joy as honest as a child’s. Rupert had many loves: his family, garden, church, community, work; history, travel, theatre, and great music. Binding them all together was his passion for life and experience: there was so much to see and to learn on the way, all of it exciting. We already miss that jaunt in his walk up Broadway, heading toward the next show.|
Rupert’s accomplishments during his career are so extensive and significant that they could not be listed during this moment he has allowed me today (yes, he’s directing), but you will find those accomplishments rendered beautifully by Bill Giduz on the college web site and in other articles, some yet to appear. I hope you will read them during another quiet moment of contemplation and save them for inspiration in your own lives.
It does seem important to share with you some things from the messages I have received from Rupert’s former students over the past few days. The common thread in many is the phrase, “He was a great friend.” Here are a few others:
“He was a great teacher and a wonderful man. You have lost quite a colleague. I learned much from him, and will miss him.”
“He was a jolly, lively man with a joy for theatre and a laughing love of farce.”
“He will always have a place in my mind and heart.”
“He made us better people and the world a better place.”
“He was a gentle person and an enjoyable director… my experiences on the stage at Davidson are some of the best memories of my lifetime so far. His death caused a ripple in the world.”
At a department gathering last week, one of our younger colleagues spoke of how the values of our program had helped her grow as a teacher. She spoke of our collective compassion for students, our trust in their abilities and patience with their mistakes, our belief that what we do is important, not only in each moment but also in the long run. Hearing this, I realized that of all Rupert’s legacies to us and his students, these enduring values will be the most important ones in the work that continues.
And so, while nervous before the opening of this new act in our own lives, we’ll go on. If Rupert were here now, and I do not doubt it, he would have that trademark twinkle in his eye, and the smile would be lifting the corners of his mouth to let us know that it’s all right, it’s only a test. Many before us have walked this stage.
He may be perturbed to find no angel in heaven as lovely as Carol, but then he would have known to expect that.
Our love to you, Carol, and to Garry and Alleen and their families. May you find peace and joy in the knowledge of a life well lived, and in the love of friends near and far.