Ian Merrill Peakes on family, at home and in our theatres. | Theatre Philadelphia
Home Theatre News Ian Merrill Peakes on family, at home and in our theatres.

Ian Merrill Peakes on family, at home and in our theatres.

Feb 17, 2017

As we get ready to celebrate over two decades of the Haas Award at our Haas Happy Hour on February 27, we’re sharing reflections from past recipients in this series.

Ian Merrill Peakes and I was the 2003 F Otto Haas Award winner. He had been working in Philadelphia since 1995. “My first show was The Real Thing at the Arden. I continued to work in Philly and decided to make my life there in 1998. I knew it was a good move immediately. I had lived in New York City for four years. I tried to get help moving and three people showed up. It took six hours to load up the van. When I arrived in Philly ten friends showed up and moved me in in less than half an hour. It was a perfect welcome to the greatest theater community I have ever known.”

On the evening of the Barrymores when Ian received the Haas Award:
When I heard my name called, I almost could not believe it. Like Grace, I had already won Best Supporting Actor for All My sons that night, so I was sure I wouldn't be so lucky to nab two in one night. My dear friend Scott Greer, who had won the previous year, was there to announce the winner with Carole. I leapt up on stage and picked Carole up in a great big hug and spun her around. I was just so grateful to be a part of a community that truly celebrates it's artists and couldn't contain myself. After all, she is such a gift to our community and deserves all the hugs. My family was there and for that I am eternally grateful. My father, who just passed away, had an incredible theatrical life and the pride in his face is something I will carry with me forever. The rest of the night was brief. There was a shortage of beverages and I stood in line for one glass of wine and we went home. In the taxi my father sat up front and shared the whole story with our driver, who turned in a wonderful Barrymore Award winning performance as someone pretending to care. It was a beautiful night.”

What Philly has that makes it so special is a giant collective theater family. It's as if we are all one company. We spend time with each other outside of the theater. I don't think I ever go see a play where there isn't another member of the community there. We genuinely love what we all do and want to see each other make stories come to life. We have relationships with each other that allow us to create real, complex relationships on stage without straining at it. That is my favorite part of being in this community. A real fellowship runs through all of it.”

“I have had so much support throughout my career. My parents have been there all along. For which I am exceedingly grateful. And although my father has just passed, I know he will be with me for the rest of the way. My fellow actors have always been a huge support. As I said before, this community gets out and sees theater. Nothing better than having theater folks in the crowd (especially Brian Anthony Wilson), to boost a performance. Directors like Aaron Posner and Terry Nolen and Matt Pfeiffer in Philly and Douglas Campbell and Robert Richmond outside of Philly, and many others have pushed me to excel every time I work with them. Theatres like the Arden and Pennsylvania Shakes and the Folger (in DC) have picked shows specifically with me in mind. That is something I never take for granted. But my biggest support is at home. My lovely and ferociously talented wife, Karen, is my rock. And our wonderful boy, Owen, is what, at the end of the day, I do it all for. If I am ever nervous before heading out on stage, I drop my hand down to where his would be, and squeeze that imaginary paw, and I am strengthened.

“The "emerging" artists in Philadelphia are so fricking emerged and numerous, that I count myself fortunate to be in a community that is in good hands. I think of Dan Hodge, that renaissance man, Alex Bechtel, what can't he do, Akeem Davis, Alex Keiper, Bi Jean Ngo,  James Ijames, Justin Jain, Mike Doh, Mary Tuomanen and the list goes on and on to the break of dawn. What the city is and what it will become is so very exciting. I am humbled to be included in the ranks. Cheers!”

Join Theatre Philadelphia in celebration of the artists and supporters that comprise our community at the Haas Happy Hour on February 27.

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