Dearest CoHo Community,
We write to you today with a heavy heart. On Saturday, November 27th, our fearless leader Philip Cuomo passed from this life into the next, and the world is suddenly a bit darker, and oh so much quieter.
Philip fell in love with CoHo’s mission when he came to Portland in 2003, first joining the company as a co-producer when he brought a play to the Mainstage 2012 season. Philip joined CoHo as our Producing Artistic Director one year later, working diligently with The Miller Foundation and our Board of Directors to give CoHo new life, outlining a plan for our little blackbox that would pave the way for successful future seasons. It was Philip’s vision for CoHo to create a physical space where new and emerging artists could create art, find joy, and call home.
A magnetic, vivacious human being, Philip developed many of the programs and concepts that are still foundational to how CoHo operates today. Philip gave birth to CoHo Lab, our incubator program that fosters new artists, helping them develop their latest works in a professional setting and giving them a stage to practice their craft. Philip introduced CoHo to the idea of Radical Listening, a way in which we can use our ears and our senses to connect intimately with the world around us. Philip taught us… “What is the spirit of theatre? The spirit of theatre is empathy, the energy that lives and breathes between the production and the audience. When we practice Radical Listening, we come together in a room to practice active listening, then go forth, in the name of empathy, and share that with each other. Then – we have a better world.”
And this is the fundamental truth of it all – Philip Cuomo created a better world, everywhere he went. Described by his community as The King of the Clowns, Philip was a beacon of positivity, whose kindness, sense of whimsy, mischievous nature, playful spirit, fierce wit, ferocious talent, and huge heart touched the lives of everyone who’s path he crossed.
We reach out to you today, knowing that the magnitude of Philip’s loss echoes throughout our local community. It has been a blessing to see so many shared memories – our feeds are flooded with pictures of his goofy grin, and the personal stories shared speak to the monumental way this human being touched the lives of so many, on a deep and lasting level.
Philip was deeply loved by us all, which is a sign of a life truly well-lived. His legacy lives on here at CoHo, so while our hearts quietly break, we know there’s still good work left to do. May we honor his spirit with compassion, tenacity, humor, and kindness. May we honor his memory by making a commitment to “stop – and find joy.”
Please enjoy the Philip Cuomo episode of Radical Listening – a gift from our archives, and Philip, to you.
The Crew at CoHo – Morgan, Phil, and Laurel