Terrible sadness: the magical performer Brent Carver died on Tuesday at his family home in Cranbrook, B.C. He was only 68.
There was no one else like Brent anywhere, let alone in the theatre business. He did nothing for ambition or success; it was all about the art. And his was a great art, done with a profound sensitivity; he was one of those people who are almost too sensitive for this nasty planet. He was kind, thoughtful, generous. Shy, unassuming, reticent. He was magnificently talented, with superb acting ability and a glorious singing voice – and, lest we forget, a beautiful face and body.
My particular sadness, as I’ve posted on FB, is that I’ve written about him in Loose Woman and was looking forward to sending him a copy hot off the presses in a few weeks. I tell about The Club, a musical in 1978 in which I had a big part, and how on preview night, I was consumed with my usual self-deprecating fears. The show did not go well. At the bar afterwards, Brent sought me out, took me to a quiet corner, sat me down, fixed me with his beautiful eyes. “You’re so close, Beth,” he said, putting his arm around me. “One more big push of confidence, and you’re there.”
A vote of confidence from one of the best actors on earth, who took the time to deliver this message: it gave me such a boost that I did manage that push of confidence and sailed through the opening to a whole new stage in my career, thanks to Brent.
Many years later, I was at a preview starring a young actor I knew from our Vancouver days together. As I watched, I felt exactly as Brent must have, watching me. I wrote the actor a letter and brought it to the Stage Door the next day to deliver it, telling the story of Brent’s gift and saying, I feel that too, with you – you’re so close, one more big push of confidence, and you’re there.
I hope it helped.
I last met Brent in December 2012 at a Leonard Cohen concert in Toronto; we were both transfixed by the haunting beauty of Cohen’s performance. But that’s what you do too, Brent, I told him, and reminded him about The Club. Since he was living not far from me, I invited him to lunch or dinner, and he responded with a vague assent which we both knew meant no; he was introverted and deeply private, just not a social animal, so unusual for an actor.
I’m glad I had the chance to remind him of his kindness in person and am trying to find an address for his family so I can send them the book. I’m sure there are countless stories of people Brent helped, but mine is there, on paper, forever.
All my love to you, dear friend. And thank you.