Friday, April 22, 2011

Alan Champion - Teacher, Mentor, Friend

One of my favorite pictures of Candy and Alan together. From 1999 "TDF/TAP Interpreting for the Theatre" program at The Juilliard School.  
Candace Broeker-Penn and Alan Champion interpreting for a theatrical production
Alan teaching/interpreting

Alan in a tuxedo. Lovely. 
The instant I saw Alan Champion in New York City, in the Juilliard School in 1999 for the "Interpreting for the Theatre" Intensive program, I leaned over to my friend and said, "I LOVE him!"  I felt an instant connection/fascination/adoration for him. As the week went on, that feeling intensified.  It never went away. I left at the end of the week feeling bereft.  I was determined that I needed more contact and more opportunity to meet him, know him, work with him, let him teach me and mentor me and hopefully get to know him better. 
 I went back to visit the program a few years later when one of my friends went. And then another time and another. I think I went 3 times to support my friends and then I went back and I took the program again in 2005. Something about the way Alan saw the world and expressed himself resonated deeply for me. He had high expectations of everyone around him, including himself. He was funny, brilliant, kind, wicked. He was a great teacher, a brilliant interpreter, a kind person. He was well-rounded for an interpreter - he sang classical music and raised show cats.

There is so much more I want to say and yet, when it all comes down to it, I was in his physical presence only a few times. We were Facebook friends and one night, I had a dream about him. I sent him an email and I told him how much he had touched me and that I didn't want to presume, but I just felt a strong connection to him and I wanted to thank him for his presence in my life. He wrote back and told me about his illness - he had a rare form of cancer.  He said our friendship was the kind that if we didn't see each other for 85 years, we would just pick up where we left off. What a gift!

Tragically, the world lost an incredibly talented, kind, funny, joyous human being today. Alan passed away surrounded by his family after a mighty struggle with cancer. My heart is broken right now. I regret that I didn't go to New York in the fall to see him one last time. I hate that I let "life" get in the way.

Alan, I miss you already.  

***All the links lead to articles or videos of Alan from various sources. This was my personal little tribute, but there are many more that remember Alan's work as a sign language interpreter on Broadway and in other capacities. 

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