Egon Franz Steinebach, resident of Twisp, husband of Carolanne, and one of our founders, died peacefully on January 8, 2018. The story of his contribution to the arts in our community begins with a serendipitous moment that led to an artistic thought. The thought created a vision, and the vision became a legacy.
In 1994, Egon & Carolanne Steinebach stepped into what was then the Twisp Mercantile to shop the close-out sale. Carolanne spoke to Egon, who had wandered off to the back of the building, "I found something to buy. Where are you?" He replied, "Over here." They both looked up, discovered the distance between them was the length of the building, and had the same thought. The acoustics in the Mercantile made it perfect for a theater--they could hear each other in a regular speaking voice from across the building.
Carolanne and Egon had been coming to the Methow Valley to stay in their cabin since the 70s. They knew the art community, so Carolanne ran right across the street to Methow Arts Alliance and told Laura Fine, executive director at the time, that the organization should buy the building. Laura replied that they should buy it. Although the idea was rejected initially, ever-wise Egon said, "Keep the thought and it will happen." The bones of the building were excellent, Egon and Carolanne knew it would be the perfect performing arts space, so their vision remained a dream for the following four years.
In 1998, the dream became reality. Egon and Carolanne took the risk and jumped in head-first. Innvesting in the purchase and remodel of the building, they formed The Merc Playhouse Society. The first season of live theater began in 1999.
For ten years, Carolanne and Egon ran The Merc. As Technical Director, Egon was responsible for lights, sound, and all the technical aspects of the theater space. For nearly all of that decade, he worked tirelessly and without pay. Egon loved theater and likened it to flying. "You launch yourself into space" is how he often described it. He loved the risk that came with producing each show.
We are forever grateful that he and Carolanne saw the vision that launched The Merc into our community—a legacy that continues today.
We remember Egon for his love of theater and for his love of The Merc. We remember his smile, his knowledge, and his wonderful stories. His passion for music and the Open Merc program he hosted for years will resound in our space long into the future. The sound of his laughter and his instruments are built into the fabric of our walls.
Thank you Egon, for all you did for arts in the Methow. May you rest in peace.
**The Merc is accepting messages of condolence to be forwarded on to Carolanne at email@example.com or at PO Box 425 Twisp, WA 98856. Memorial details will be announced in the near future.