Checking in with Boomie Pederson


Tell us about your day job.
The Hamner Theater is my job. My paycheck comes from the Rockfish Valley Community Center, because at this point the Hamner Theater is a project of the Center. So my co-artistic director [Peter Coy] and I are on staff there. Unfortunately, my salary doesn’t reflect the hours I put in, which is true for most nonprofits and especially for the theater. And I do try to take care of my family, and they end up coming with me most of the time. I have two little boys and four older children, and the little boys spend a lot of time at the theater.

Boomie Pedersen, co-artistic director at the Hamner Theater, spent a decade on and off in Tokyo, where she ran a children’s theater and did voiceover work. She has been involved in local theater since she moved to Charlottesville in 1995.

Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?
Of course, one of the things that happens when you start running a business is that your ability to participate creatively with anybody diminishes, so I haven’t necessarily been able to do more than produce or direct in the space that I’m trying to keep going. And that’s been frustrating, because, you know, one of the reasons you do this is for the creative charge and the collaborative energy. The fact that we have a playwright’s conference, the Virginia Playwrights and Screenwriters Initiative, is really wonderful. It’s a very intense two-week or three-week period where you collaborate with many people. And that has been, so far, the most rewarding short-term artistic process for me. [VPSI’s staged readings will be held July 22, 24 and 25.]

What is your first artistic memory from childhood?
I remember vividly, when Kennedy was assassinated, wanting to do something to commemorate it. I was about 10 or 11. I actually wrote a song, and I remember doing this whole piece about his assassination, because I was so amazed at the effect it had on the grown-ups in my world. And that was astounding to me.

What piece of public art do you wish were in your private collection?
One time there was an artist who came to Second Street Gallery when it was over at McGuffey, and she created art out of rose petals, and she made this amazing unframed standing installation. That I would have just loved to take home.

Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs, Arwen and Bogart. And I have two cats, Brain and Little. Little is Brain’s son, and Brain had four other children, but they all died of feline peritonitis. We watched them all die, it was heartbreaking, but Little, who was the runt, survived.

What would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?
It’s interesting, because every project I embark on, it never occurs to me that it could fail, because I always think, well, we’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t. So you don’t approach it with the notion of failure. I would not want to fail my family, really, and in the grand scheme of things, I would give up everything if I felt like I was going to fail them.

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who and why?
I’ve always, always wanted to meet Tom Hanks. I don’t know why, but I always have, so why? Because I’d really just like to have a conversation with him. He seems like such an approachable person.

Favorite artist outside your medium?
I refer a lot to Mark Strand, the poet. I’ve known his works for so long that they’re just sort of in my head.