Director, Producer, Writer
( b. May 03, 1926 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. May 03, 2013 Seattle, Washington, USA ) Male
Herbert Blau briefly helped lead the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center in New York, but he is probably best remembered for starting, with Jules Irving, the Actor's Workshop in San Francisco in 1952. Originally a teaching studio, it grew into a vibrant theater company known for feisty experimentalism and became a vanguard in the emergence of the regional theater movement.
The workshop was an early champion of Beckett, whose Waiting for Godot, in which two tramps wait for a man who never appears, had been produced in Florida and New York to scant critical and audience approval. The Actor's Workshop version was a hit when it opened in San Francisco.
Through a chain of acquaintances, the troupe was asked to put on a play at San Quentin State Prison in 1957 to replace a traditional variety show done by inmates. The Beckett play was chosen after prison officials specified that none of the actors could be women.
The prisoners -- used to waiting themselves -- loved it, and started their own drama group as a result. The performance became the subject of a 2010 documentary, "The Impossible Itself," and a legend in the development of absurdist theater. Beckett thought the review in the prison newspaper reflected the best understanding of the play he had seen.
Mr. Blau went on to become a passionate voice for less conventionality in theater. In his 1964 book, "The Impossible Theater: A Manifesto," he decried the "failure and fatuousness of the American theater," asserting that most people working on Broadway were "ashamed" of what they did -- or at least, in his view, they should be.
The book generated considerable attention in theater circles, most of it positive, and the next year the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center hired Mr. Blau and Mr. Irving as joint directors. Mr. Irving stayed until 1972, but Mr. Blau resigned after two years.
Mr. Blau then founded another experimental theater group, Kraken, which had several homes and traveled widely. Named for a legendary sea creature, the company included the actor Bill Irwin and the director Julie Taymor.
Source: The New York Times