In Memoriam

One of the best friends that this city's playwrights have ever had is gone. Webster Smalley, who taught playwriting at the UT Department of Theatre & Dance from 1969 to 1989, died Sunday at the age of 75. During his time at the University, Smalley tutored dozens of talented writers, including Robert Schenkkan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Kentucky Cycle. Smalley was a playwright himself -- among his most popular works was The Boy Who Talked to Whales, a play for children last produced locally by Project InterAct in 1990 -- and he chaired UT's theatre department from 1972 to 1975, but his great legacy belongs to developing new work for the stage. In 1980, he founded the UT Shoestring Theatre program, through which student writers could see their work mounted; while the production values were minimal at best, Shoestring's stagings gave young dramatists a greater sense of what worked and didn't work in their scripts than the most complete written analyses from instructors. Smalley may have worked chiefly on the 40 Acres, but his impact on Austin's greater theatre community was significant. His on-campus advocacy for new drama helped foster an interest in new plays among audiences and in theatres throughout the city. For that, he deserves our thanks.

Now He's Dean Deming

David Deming has been a prominent presence in the UT College of Fine Arts for years, as a nationally renowned sculptor; a valued teacher of drawing, sculpture, and design on both undergraduate and graduate levels; holder of the Marguerite Fairchild Professorship; and, since 1990, chairman of the Department of Art and Art History. Next month, he'll be an even more prominent presence. Effective August 15, he will take on the role of interim dean of the fine arts college, a post necessitated by the departure of Dean Jon Whitmore to the University of Iowa to become its provost. Deming's appointment was announced this week by UT Vice Provost Patricia Ohlendorf. He will serve until a permanent replacement can be chosen and assume the office.

You Want More Heather? You Got More Heather!

One thing about Austin audiences: when they like somebody, they really like them. They pack their shows, they cheer, they gush to friends, and they clamor for more. One of the latest to enjoy this gushing treatment is New York writer-actor Heather Woodbury, who came to town recently to present her 10-hour, 100-character "performance novel," The Heather Woodbury Report, or Whatever. Woodbury's three-week run at Planet Theatre was a sell-out sensation, with patrons paying multiple visits, and hollering for more. Well, VORTEX Repertory Company aims to please, so artistic director Bonnie Cullum is bringing Woodbury back September 12-22. Don't miss out. For info, call 478-LAVA.

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The Harry Ransom Center has acquired all the professional and personal materials of profoundly influential acting teacher Stella Adler

Robert Faires, April 30, 2004

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Robert Faires, July 18, 2003

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