Just two days before Le Petit Theatre in the French Quarter of New Orleans shuttered its doors in the face of the Omicron surge, the historic theatre was filled with 35 or so hearty souls braving exposure to the new variant to memorialize James H. O’Quinn, American Theatre’s founding editor, who had died on Oct. 11, 2021. Friends, lovers, collaborators, and co-workers (some in overlapping categories) traveled from Massachusetts, Washington state, and New York City to eulogize an icon some suggested was now creatively conspiring with departed Louisiana theatre greats John O’Neal, Adella Gautier and Carol Sutton.
O’Quinn’s death came after a brutal year of heart attack, stroke, and complications, which landed him in multiple ICU hospital beds on crowded wards where Richard Fumosa, his partner of 40 years and husband of almost seven, told the gathering they’d found among the drained and exhausted staff “no heroes.” Bills were high, money tight, and Fumosa was struggling himself with injuries from a fall after Hurricane Ida and a botched rotator cuff surgery. Even for a man who’d successfully navigated a tempestuous publishing career, working for a time as Harold Bloom’s editorial assistant and editing Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell (which he quipped was hell), Fumosa was tested to the limits of his capacity.
So when he walked their dog across the 100-year-old stage at Le Petit to distract himself from his solitary task of welcoming mourners and offering prodigious public thanks to the angels who’d arranged rides to the hospital, meals, dog-walking assistance, and ultimately a GoFundMe, it was both completely charming and deeply felt.
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