I met Doug the summer I turned 15yrs old. He was my drama teacher that summer and he opened my eyes to a world of love and understanding. Doug introduced me to new ways of thinking about theatre arts, and that summer I learned the methods of Grotowski, Stanislavski, and many theatre philosophies. But most importantly, the summer I met Doug is the summer I learned that theatre and music can be used to create change in this world and to provide healing. My life would never be the same.
That summer and for many years afterwards, I began performing with Doug's non-profit, To Life LIVE- a 501c3 organization that provided entertainment for those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS (formally Hearts & Voices NYC). I would play the piano, sing and perform for children's homes, hospitals and people in need. These early experiences for me were the very small seeds planted that would someday develop into Realize Your Beauty.
Doug ran his theatre classes from a place of great honesty. He expected great things of his students and at the same time, he taught them to embrace who they were. He taught me to embrace myself, and made me feel I had something special to offer to this world. Of the many stories that describe who Doug was, among the most poignant is from one of the last classes Doug taught. A very young shy girl came to her audition for his summer camp, and while she performed, she kept her arm behind her back. When Doug questioned her, she revealed a badly deformed arm. Doug told her that not only could she be in that summer's production, she needed to be. He said, “Don’t you ever be ashamed of that arm. It’s part of you, and it’s part of what makes you special.”
After a long illness, Doug passed away in 2009 at the age of 43. The week he passed, I traveled from NYC to Denver to be by his side, and to say goodbye. It makes me profoundly sad that Doug will never get to see how his influence has continued to create change for the next generation. However, I consider it a great privilege that I had the chance before he died to thank him for everything he taught me and everything he gave to me. To thank him for changing my life.
Thanks to a very generous private donor, this year we are honored to announce the Doug Rosen Scholarship Fund. This scholarship offers campers full & partial scholarships, providing children the opportunity to attend Camp RYB who may not otherwise be able to.
And so it is with great privilege we honor the memory of my dear friend & mentor, Doug Rosen- for everything he gave to me and for everything he gave to the community. Doug inspired me, taught me, and introduced me to a world where theatre can be used for positive change. Without him, Realize Your Beauty would not exist today.
For more information on Doug's life, please see this beautiful article written as tribute in the Denver Post: link here.
-Stacey Lorin Merkl
Founder & Executive Director, Realize Your Beauty