In Memoriam: Director and patron Zina Theresa Bleck

Guest Submission by Harry Kantrovich for DCMTA

I first met Zina Bleck in 2003 after retiring from the Navy. I hadn’t been on stage for 23 years and she threw me in How I learned to drive as the male protagonist. We became fast friends and often met for breakfast every weekend when we were both in town. Over the years I’ve worked on over 20 shows with Zina.

Zina Bleck was born on April 20, 1961. She died unexpectedly on March 26, 2022 less than a month before her 61st birthday. Zina had many loves: cats, star trek, dark shadows, old movies, Halloween, travel, music, Beanie Babies (given after every show to cast and crew) and all things purple (she dubbed herself The Purple Partridge). However, Zina’s passion was live theater. Zina caught the theater bug while attending Hollywood High School in California. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from Occidental College in Los Angeles. After college and working in various organizations, Zina decided she needed a change of scenery and moved to Reston, Virginia. She landed at Reston Community Players where, soon after, she found herself directing and producing shows. She has spread her wings to other bands like Tapestry, Springfield, The Arlington Players, Prince William Little Theater and her home: Castaways Repertory Theatre. A passion to give more to the theater community led Zina to create Zemfira Stage, a professional theater with no equity that had the family feel of a community theater.

Zina cared deeply about giving people the chance to experience quality theater. Whether you are established in the community or a novice, you were welcome at Zina. She added characters and backup singers to many of her plays and musicals to give people the opportunity to be on stage. When it came to casting, Zina was color blind, gender blind, and disability blind. One of Zina’s favorite sayings was “After all, it’s community theater, so I’m going to kick off the community.” If she knew someone in a play, she made it a point to attend that play. If it was a comedy, you knew Zina was in the audience. His laugh was unequivocal.

Since Zina’s passing, I have heard of hundreds of people across the country that she had touched. College friends, work colleagues and of course his theater community. Our lives are all better for knowing Zina. Our hearts also go out to his very close friend and companion Leonard. Zina, you will be missed and will always be in our hearts. Rest with the angels.

Zina Bleck’s memorial will be held May 14, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. at the Ferlazzo Building – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, Woodbridge, VA, Home of Castaways Repertory Theatre, Zina’s home theater.

The memorial will take place between the matinee and evening performances of Cinderella. It will start around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. EDT. Attendees are encouraged to attend one of the performances of Cinderella – Zina’s last performance as director – before or after the memorial. Jim Mitchell will serve as MC. There will be very few speakers at the memorial due to limited time. Anyone wishing to share a memory is asked to write something down and send it to Harry Kantrovich at [email protected]

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