Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oscar Brockett, in memoriam, by Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle

Published in the Austin Chronicle of November 11:

Oscar Brockett (image: Austin Chronicle)

Oscar Brockett

In memoriam

A scholar and a gentleman – the phrase is as apt a one as you'll find to describe Oscar Brockett, who was world-class on both counts. As a historian, he literally wrote the book on theatre – his History of the Theatre has been the gold standard on the subject for more than 40 years, and his The Essential Theatre is equally, well, essential in chronicling the art form's development. And as an educator, a mentor, a colleague, and a friend, Brock, as he was familiarly known, was a model of generosity, humility, kindness, warmth, and supportiveness. (Plus, he wielded a wickedly dry wit.) His passing on Nov. 7, following a massive stroke, left a great void in the world of theatre and in the hearts of thousands who were touched by the man. He was 87.

Theatre history was an unlikely career for a boy who grew up on a tobacco farm in rural Tennessee, where the only theatre to be seen was the odd high school production. But the stage called out to him, and after obtaining his undergraduate degree at a college with no drama department, Brockett made his way to Stanford to begin his theatre studies in earnest. There, he obtained his master's and doctoral degrees, then embarked on a teaching career at the University of Kentucky and Stetson University in Florida. During a seven-year stint teaching playwriting at the University of Iowa, he wrote an introductory theatre textbook, which led to him being asked by a publishing house to write a history of theatre. Once he accepted the challenge, his fate was sealed.

Read full text at Austin . . . .

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