Sati Word, Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our friend Sati Word, on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

There will be a Celebration Service for Sati on September 22nd at 6pm, at the Soka Gakkai International Chicago Buddhist Culture Center, 1455 S. Wabash, and a Homegoing Service the following day, September 23rd at 10am, at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove.

His friends and family have established a Memorial Fund to help pay for his funeral. Please consider giving.

Three of Sati’s castmates from our Oobleck Election Show 2008: The Trojan Candidate shared their thoughts:

Jeff Dorchen writes:

On behalf of Theater Oobleck, I want to extend condolences to the family and friends of Sati Word. His passing is a great loss to those who knew him, and to the arts. It’s hard to express the shock I feel knowing he’s not around anymore.

I met him in the summer of 2008, just as rehearsals were about to begin for The Trojan Candidate, the 2008 Oobleck election play. We had lost our Obama, and Sati showed up. He was game for anything. And he was great. As an enthusiastic improv performer he took to the directorless rehearsal model with ease but not without commenting on the glorious madness of it, was never shy about chiming in with ideas, but never made us old folk feel like we were out of gas. Maybe he adjusted his pace to ours, yet whatever he did, he was 100% there. He crafted his performance with a control that was surprising given what appeared to be an untamable energy.

Backstage he shared that energy with the rest of the cast. He was a non-stop pleasure to work with, and afterwards, on FB, and a few times we met to drink, whatever sardonic or wry social criticism he let slip was tempered by something unsinkable. I was always glad to see him or hear from him, even when he talked about that Ron Paul crap. We had an understanding about that.

He always had something going on: a film, a gig, a sketch show. He was that kind of rare young performer, the kind that assuages the pity older theater folk instinctively feel for the young because of all the disillusionment in store for them. I got the feeling he would be able to handle whatever came at him because of his sheer forward momentum, leading with a blade that would cut through bullshit.

Apparently a series of undeserved incidents of harassment by our historically wonderful Chicago Police Department had gotten under his skin a while ago. Then, recently, health issues. There was so much more he had to do in this life. I hear he was planning to come out to LA. I would love to have seen him out here.

This is the kind of senseless loss that leaves the living grasping the wind. He can’t have been easy to take down, and I can’t figure out why any cosmic force should have wanted to. He was thin but full of power. He was funny and charming as hell. His warm-up mantra:

“I’m awake! I’m alive! I’m energized! And damn I look good!”

He was and he did.

KellyAnn Corcoran writes:

Sati, I hope you are hearing all the things that are being written here from your place in the stars. You were loved and admired and respected. You were patient and thoughtful and kind. You were you, no matter who you were with or what you were doing. I expected to see you again, to work with you again, to stand in the warmth of your presence once more. I am grateful and honored to have known you. Know that you touched my life and left it more full than before I knew you. How sad for us that you have gone. Bless you on your new journey Sati. You are missed and mourned.

Danny Thompson writes:

Goodbye, Sati Word.
One of the joys of being in a show is the treat of watching from offstage while waiting for your next scene. One of my favorites of these moments was watching Sati flying solo with his Obama’s I Have a Dream scenes. He was so damn good and so damn fun to watch and a pleasure to work with.

(from Oobleck Election Play 2008: The Trojan Candidate)

I have a dream . . . that I am in the midst of an immense multitude. All wearing paper hats, sashes, ribbons, buttons. Everything is red, white and blue. We are all in a gigantic stadium covered in banners and flags. A dozen school bands are playing at once and the noise is deafening. 80,000 people whistling, singing, laughing and waving signs. And then at the 50 yard line a group erupts in a thunderous excitement. They rush the stage. Then everything stops. We are all silent with tingling anticipation. Something . . . wonderful is about to happen.

Murmured rumors race around the room. And then the news rushes past us like a great wave Obama is here. OBAMA . . . is IN … the room.

I am frozen with overpowering feelings. Obama is here. My legs are shaking. Obama! Ive forgotten how to breathe. Behind me someone is weeping. Someone else is laughing. Spotlights sweep around the stadium and 80,000 camera flashes sparkle and the air is electric.

And then at the very back. At the center of the stage, under a massive American flag, the spotlights all come together. . . and hes there. Everyone just explodes with applause and roars, Obama. Obama. Obama. Obama.

But as I look up, I cant believe my eyes. Its me. The man on the stage is me. One of the spotlights travels down from the stage to find me inside the crowd and I follow in its light to the front of the platform. The crowd divides as I walk. I begin to climb up the steps, but someone grabs my arm. Its Will Smith. And he yells, Hey! Who do you think you are? Youre not even human anymore. Others grab me and hold me back, but I push forward. With all my might I push forward. I have to let Obama know. I have to tell Obama that Im him. That hes me.

And then a hundred thousand balloons fall from ceiling and push me away. And Im just one them again. Just one of the crowd.

Photos by Kristin Basta.

posted 09/06/2014