The co-founder of the Pocket Sandwich Theatre died last night at 78. Joe and Rodney Dobbs established the for-profit venture in 1980, keeping up a steady supply of food, drinks and, onstage, hissable melodramas, movie parodies, comedy troupes (like 4 Out of 5 Doctors) and the annual holiday show, Ebeneezer Scrooge, with Dickinson playing the title role. (That’s Joe, center, in the late Steve Lovett’s Atomic Cavegirls of Island Zero). Dickinson was pretty much the face of his populist theater, at times doing everything there — including serving beer. Many of the shows were written or co-written by Dickinson, and the PST made a point of encouraging local writers to submit their work — provided they were willing to have the audience throw popcorn at it while it was onstage.
I had heard several years ago from reliable sources that Dickinson was struggling with cancer, but there’s no official word on the cause of death. The box office at the PST reports that a memorial at the theater is in the works but nothing definite has been set.
UPDATE: Ethan Robinson, Joe’s grandson, has contacted us to say Joe died from complications of emphysema.