Transitions. Last week while on a long Western trip, I encountered two young men celebrating early-July birthdays. Under different circumstances, I spent time with each. Their personal lives have come into sharp, meaningful focus. Their mid-career challenges have given pause for reflection.At the Utah Shakespearean Festival, I interviewed actor-director David Ivers. He turned 40 on July 10. Earlier, my son, Sam, and I hiked up Nevada's tallest peak, Mount Wheeler. Sam just turned 42 and will be married in a month.
Ivers is a well-regarded regional actor with a particular gift for physical comedy. This summer is his 13th season in Cedar City, yet he has two serious roles: Jacques in "As You Like It" and the mysterious Montjoy in "Henry V."
"Physical comedy is hard," he said in the interview. "I'm not 29 anymore."
Ivers also has a clear head for the business side of theater. His day job, if you will, is resident company member of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. In the summer, Ivers travels to Utah for another grueling repertory season - this one only nine weeks.
Last summer, Ivers directed a brilliant production of "Cyrano de Bergerac." A few months later in Denver, he directed "The Merry wives of Windsor." I saw both, and for all his inventiveness, Ivers never sacrificed clarity.
My son also operates on multiple tracks. He works in Los Angeles and has a high-tech title, information architect. What's easier to understand is his second job as a stuntman in the movies and television.
Sam always has been very athletic. Friends who knew him as a child are not surprised at his unusual combination of head-smart and body-smart jobs.
As he and I hiked up Mount Wheeler, it was high-altitude Durango who ran out of breath, not sea-level L.A.
Now in his 40s, Sam knows his computer-related career is the one with longevity. So he continuously updates his skills. Now that he's getting married, another big transition approaches.
Ivers told me his two newest roles, husband and father, have meant the biggest change in life: "In late March, my son Jack was born - during final dress rehearsal for 'Owen Meany,' I left the theater during the second intermission in the middle of one of Denver's biggest snowstorms - 22 inches. Jack made quite an entrance."
Talking about their lives and careers, both men exude a sense of adventure. Neither is unrealistic about the vagaries of life. Economic uncertainty always is in the background. But nothing has dimmed their overriding sense of hope for a bright, if unpredictable, future.
Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at Jud_reyn@yahoo.com.