Rick Foucheux is loving life.
“Just hanging around — everything’s good,” said the actor, who retired last year after a decades-long career that has earned him five Helen Hayes awards (and 13 nominations) and a reputation as one of the metropolitan area’s favorite thespians.
“I retired from doing big roles where I had to do a lot of lines,” he explained. “I was tired being out of the house all the time. It’s just a punishing schedule, what the actors in this theater do.
“I spent 35 years doing it, and it was a wonderful blast,” he added. “But I’ve got grandkids now, and I just wanted to spend more time at home.”
“I grew up down south in the bayou country,” said Foucheux, who came to Washington, D.C. with a bachelor of arts degree in speech (and minor in theater) from Louisiana’s Nicholls State University. He’d had a handful of jobs as a TV broadcaster, but when his plans to be a television morning show host in D.C. fell through, he switched gears to pursue a theater career. He also adopted his wife’s home state as his own. “I never looked back, I loved it,” he said. “I consider myself more of a Marylander than a Louisianan, actually.”
Part of being a Marylander, for Foucheux, is supporting the arts. That’s what he plans to do when he headlines the 2018 fundraiser at Quotidian Theatre Company (QTC), reading the Anton Chekhov classic “On the Harmfulness of Tobacco” and participating in a reading of a work of his own, a black comedy titled “Parts of a Night.”
“A lot of people write,” he said. “I’ve got a drawerful full of uncompleted first acts and things like that.” Over the years, he would often write a bit at the end of a night, to help him sleep after returning home from performing in a show. “This one sort of wrote itself. It was fun.”
That was three years ago. And while Foucheux doesn’t consider himself a playwright — “No, I wrote it on a lark!” he insisted — “Parts of a Night” is ready for an audience.
“It’s about a couple of actors who are approaching their middle age,” he said. “They’ve worked together for many, many years and they’re getting ready to open in a really bad play.”
Alcohol and angst fuel their fears about the show. Foucheux calls it a “green room play” that is loosely based on some of his experiences in the theater world. “Not literally, but there’s no question I was visited by memories of spending many nights in a green room myself,” he chuckled. “It’s a place where people let their guards down, I think, especially if you have a history.”
Like the history Foucheux has with QTC co-founders Stephanie Mumford and Jack Sbarbori. He has known them for years, he said, and has been happy to help out whenever he can. “I never actually worked there,” he explained, “I just have a ton of friends through there, I’ve seen a lot of their shows and I like their work very much.”
It takes money to facilitate that work, to produce the plays by Chekhov, Horton Foote and Conor McPherson that Foucheux admires. QTC’s mission is to “produce quality, thought-provoking plays at an affordable price,” and its annual fundraiser helps accomplish that mission. That means selling tickets to the event, held at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda on Saturday, Nov. 3, and raising funds with a silent auction offering theater tickets, props from QTC shows and an opportunity to dine at a Bethesda restaurant with Foucheux. Attendees will enjoy a reception with complimentary wine and catered appetizers, plus Foucheux reading Chekhov and the world premiere of “Parts of a Night.”
“It’s a staged reading. Laura Giannarelli is directing it, and I’ve known Laura the whole time I’ve been in Washington,” he said. “Same with Kim — Kim Schraf — and Chelsea Thaler: these are all friends of mine.” Matthew Vaky, who rounds out the cast, is an actor Foucheux met more recently and considers “just terrific in the role.”
Of course, while Foucheux is renowned as an actor, as a first-time playwright he is less confident. “It’s a very hard thing to write a play and to put it out there,” he said. “I’m very honored and flattered that Stephanie Mumford was interested in doing it; I don’t have any delusions that it’s going to move on.”
Foucheux insisted that he is not suddenly a playwright. “I have great respect for playwrights; it’s a difficult form to write in,” he said. He hopes that “Parts of a Night” will raise money for future programming at QTC, which he sees as a small theater with a loyal following and an ability to rise to the challenge of making art with limited resources. He also wants to make people laugh, and to share some of what he has seen during his career as an actor.
“The theater’s a fascinating place; it’s filled with fascinating people,” said Foucheux. “It would be hard to live that life for 35 years and not come away with some indelible memories.”
Some are good and some bad, he added. “It’s a privilege to be able to see beyond the mask.”
The staged reading of “Parts of a Night” will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 in the Jane Fox Reading Room at The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh St., Bethesda. Tickets — $50, $40 for Actor’s Center members – are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3414168. For information, call 301-816-1023 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.