Rodney in his "Jimmies's Blues." Rodney at Haskell's
Pat and I first met Rodney Creech in 1997—almost 20 years ago. We cast Rodney in the show “Driving Miss Daisy” with Pat as Miss Daisy. South Carolina Repertory Company’s production was performed on Hilton Head and Port Royal, South Carolina, and in Savannah, Georgia. Rodney and Pat were terrific together and we were very pleased with our production. We planned future productions with Rodney.
Rodney grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where his parents still live. He graduated from Savannah High School and attended North Carolina School of the Arts for two years of vocal training. He’d gotten the theatre bug when he visited an aunt in Philadelphia. He earned his B.F.A. in theatre at the Philadelphia School for the Arts. He worked at the Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia before returning to Savannah and founding the Eastside Players Theatre Company—whose mission was to give black actors an opportunity to participate in theatre. That theatre was still going when we met Rodney—hereafter referred to as RC.
Terri Jo Ryan says in her Hilton Head News review:
Among the kudos coming director Whitney Hays McDaniel’s way Jan 3, 1997 after a performance of “Driving Miss Daisy,” was that this show makes you forget the movie of a few years back.
Indeed, the performances offered by Pat Haskell of Hilton Head as fiercely independent Daisy Werthan and Rodney Creech of Savannah as Hoke Colburn, her faithful servant and finally friend, are apt to erase previous tellings of the tale from your mind. Haskell swears she channels Miss Daisy even when she’s not on stage. Creech, meanwhile, shows the progression of age so well in his acting, you would never guess that in real life he’s only 34.
RC wrote, directed, acted, and produced a number of shows at our theatre and was superb at all four. Theatre professor, Jim Stark at Hanover College suggested RC go to New York and explore opportunities to earn his MFA in theatre. Pat and I arranged for him to attend some auditions in New York City and we went to NYC with him. He returned to our hotel and told us he’d received five firm offers from outstanding universities. One offer was from West Virginia University in Morgantown.
RC and I visited most of the universities he’d heard from and, after much deliberation he decided to go to West Virginia. WVA offered both a full-scholarship and a stipend for teaching theatre.
RC thrived at WVA. In his senior year, he wrote and performed a one-man show about James Wright. Pat and I saw his show and attended his graduation.
Following his earning his MFA, RC accepted a position teaching high school in Montgomery, Alabama. Since RC’s goal is to teach in a college, he moved on securing a position as Associate Art Director in Flint, Michigan with the Flint Institute of Arts. He taught, acted, and directed there for a number of years before returning to Savannah to pursue another of his goals—to write plays.
RC spent a few hours visiting Pat, Mary Moser, and me today—bringing us up to date on his life and talking about his new play. Rodney is in good spirits and pleased with the experience he’s gleaned from the theatre experiences he’s had. We came up with some ideas on our suggestions on how he might improve his play and plan to continue to stay in touch.