By Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
For all of the time that I spent in The Bard’s Town, I never really got to know Doug Schutte. I spoke to him behind the bar, or on the go inside the restaurant, and saw him onstage, but never sat and talked with him one on one. Social media is full of the memories of those who did. Certainly my loss.
In the early days, the joint was always jumping; diners, drinkers, followers of the local comedy scene, and, most importantly, the local theatre community. The business thrived on this intersection of audiences and was flush with success.
I spent more time upstairs, often reviewing plays produced and often written by Doug, Louisville premieres, and a host of work by local playwrights, The Bard’s Town hosted the Ten-Tucky Play Festival, and the Derby City Playwrights made it their home for several years.
My favorite Schutte play? The inspired, irreverent lunacy of The Kings of Christmas, a play that is designed to feel as if it has gone off the rails, is a well-crafted piece masquerading as chaos. My favorite Schutte performance? The everyman rapture-obsessive in Samuel Hunter’s A Bright New Boise.
But this is a list of accomplishments. I never really knew the man, yet I feel a duty to write something. I just know he created a space that felt like home for a great many people, and we all have stories to tell. I met so many people for the first time inside that space, and many are friends still. Several have posted much more personal remembrances than I can offer. Erin Keane and Joey Arena are two of my favorites.
Yet I never really got to know Doug Schutte. But I know something of his pain because I saw his 2016 one-person show, You Say Tomato, I Say Go Fuck Yourself. It was autobiographical and so raw and unyielding in its confessional nature that it was difficult to witness. Grief and loss can shake us to the core, and I have often wondered if Doug ever recovered from that difficult time, and what the cost had been.
People are complicated, and Doug Schutte was many things, and I would never claim to understand all of his conflicts and contradictions, but for now, I’ll remember my experiences within the walls of The Bard’s Town that never would have happened but for him.
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.