Arts Champion Denise Simone

“The arts in the Wood River Valley are as breathtaking in their scope as the natural resources that surround them. They form a continual tapestry that is literally woven through the very fabric of our community – from gallery walks, to music under the stars, to dynamic theatre, to literary conferences – it is a constant feast for the mind and soul.
I arrived in the Valley fourteen years ago wondering how-in-the-world our nonprofit theatre company, Company of Fools, could flourish in a small town. Fourteen years later I wonder how-on-earth it could flourish anywhere else. If all the world’s a stage – then the Wood River Valley is the perfect stage for the world!” — Denise Simone: Core Artist and Founding Member of Company of Fools

Denise Simone (Core Company Artist) is a founding member of Company of Fools as well as an accomplished director, teacher, playwright, and actor with over 30 years experience in the world of professional nonprofit theatre. Her directing credits include Collected Stories, Doubt, Frozen, Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune, The Gift of the Magi, The Laramie Project, A Christmas Carol, Talley’s Folly, Diary of a Madman, A Shayna Maidel, Graceland, Belle of Amherst, and the New Voices series for Company of Fools and Theatre Virginia.

As a playwright, Simone has had four plays produced in the United States. Her children’s play on adoption, Me and My Families, toured for over four years and served as a recruitment tool for Virginia adoption agencies looking to match families with special needs children. Simone has taught theatre and creative writing classes in Virginia and Idaho, at Company of Fools, Richmond’s School for the Performing Arts, St. Catherine’s, and the Henrico’s Center for the Arts as well as creating and implementing Company of Fools’ innovative in-school program, Stages of Wonder, now in its tenth year.

She was the creative writing teacher for the theatre component of Blaine County School District’s Academy for the Arts from 2000-2003 and the lead teacher for the Company’s facilitation of the Community School’s Elementary School Theatre Program in 2003/2004.

Simone is a professional actor with credits including Lou in Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, Becca in Rabbit Hole, the title role in Hedda Gabler, Shirley in Shirley Valentine, Karen in Dinner With Friends, Gretta in James Joyce’s The Dead, Terry in Side Man, May in Fool For Love starring Bruce Willis, Li’l Bit in How I Learned To Drive, and Roberta in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea for Company of Fools.

Simone was appointed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and reappointed by Governor Risch to serve as a Commissioner on the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Ms. Simone also serves on the board of directors for the Wood River Arts Alliance.

Q & A with Denise

Q: When and how did you begin performing?
A: I loved to read and so it seemed a natural progression to begin to bring stories to life on stage. I had a few terrific high school teachers who inspired us to read and tell the great stories – Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekov, Williams – pure delight!

Q: What is your favorite place to perform in the Sun Valley area & why?
A: The Liberty Theatre on Main Street, Hailey! It is such a lovely, intimate theatre that is a joy not only for the artist but for the audience.

Q: What is your favorite activity when you are not performing?
A: I am a bit of a homebody – when I am not performing or at the theatre – I love to spend evenings at home with my husband – whether it’s reading, watching the fire, gardening, or just star gazing.

Q: When did you know that performing was more than just a hobby?
A: I don’t remember a specific moment but when I entered college my life was on a journey to explore the art form of theatre. I knew it was how I wanted to serve – what I wanted to contribute – in my small way – to my community. Our training is about “living on stage” and as we all know life is ever changing. So every night, right before I open that door, I literally say a prayer that goes, “Thank you for this journey – may I share fully ALL I find.”

Q: What is your favorite place in the Sun Valley area?
A: My garden.

Q: Who do you consider your role model and why?
A: The list is endless and continually grows.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned?
A: I don’t know if I’ve “learned” it yet – but I know this life is about the present moment, of being alive, of knowing each day is a gift – and to simply be grateful.

Q: Where do you turn for motivation?
A: Depends on what I need motivation for! From my daughter to my husband, my friends, the artists that surround me, dark chocolate, dandelion fluff – motivation abounds.

Q: What is your favorite way to warm up in the winter/cool down in the summer?
A: Building crazed snowmen in the winter and hiking in the summer. But then again my internal thermometer is a bit …. off.

Q: What advice would you give to young people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
A: Notice. Wonder. Remember.

Speed Round:
Q: Favorite food?
Q: Anything whole, real, sustainable and preferably locally grown!

Q: Song?
A: Landslide

Q: Band?
A: Anyone that can make my soul sing.

Q: Color?
A: Bottle green blue

Q: Time of day?
A: Dawn

Q: Movie?
A: It’s a Wonderful Life

Q: Book?
A: The Idiot by Dostoevsky

Q: Place to eat?
A: CK’s

Q: Holiday?
A: Groundhog Day

Q: How long have you lived in SV?
A: 14 years

Sun Valley Champion Denise Simone in the Press