Cohen Remembered

In the calm of a late Sunday morning this past week, hundreds of theatre artists, educators, students, friends, and family members of David Mark Cohen gathered to remember and pay tribute to the playwright, educator, and critic, who was killed in a traffic accident near Fort Worth on the night of December 23. In a service at the McCullough Theatre on the UT campus, Cohen's contributions to the university were recalled by Sharon Vasquez, chair of the UT Department of Theatre & Dance. His compassion and eloquence as a critic were remembered by Michael Barnes, arts writer for the Austin American-Statesman. And his insight into drama and ability to inspire those learning the art of playwriting was given testimony by two former students, Emily Ball Cicchini, author of Becoming Brontë, and John Walch, author of Craving Gravy, both also members of Austin Script Works, an organization which Cohen co-founded shortly before his death to nurture, develop, and help produce new dramatic scripts. From the UT theatre department, Dr. David Nancarrow read two poems in his colleague's honor, and Dr. Susan Zeder gave an impassioned testament to Cohen's artistry, his humor, and his continuing influence. Offering a more personal image of Cohen was his cousin Robert Goldman, who conjured memories of the boyhood Cohen and him sharing the joys of Beatles albums and James Bond movies. And reminding us of David Cohen the writer was director Christina J. Moore, who read a poignant entry from one of Cohen's journals, in which he described a sunrise with its ineffable qualities of hope and his own sense of himself as an artist. The service ended with remarks by Rabbi Kerry Baker and his presentation of a memorbuch, a bound collection of stories and remembrances of Cohen, to his parents and his partner, Steven Tomlinson, followed by a prayer in music by the Compline Choir of St. David's Episcopal Church, which offered choral music throughout the service.

A memorial fund in Cohen's name has been set up to support the production of works by UT playwriting students. Contributions may be made to the "David Mark Cohen Memorial Fund" at any local Boatmen's Bank branch or by check to PO Box 4218, Austin, 78765.

Worthy Causes

The cast of The Phantom of the Opera is giving you a peek behind their masks, so to speak, to show you what kind of performing they do when they aren't running around the Paris Opera House in a cabaret performance this Monday, February 2, 7pm, at the Zachary Scott Theatre Center's Whisenhunt Arena Stage, 1701 Toomey. These artists will be presenting musical theatre, opera, and dance -- all to benefit AIDS Services of Austin and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Cast members will also be holding a silent auction of memorabilia from Phantom and other Broadway shows, and they'll host a reception after the show. For info, call 406-6156. The Austin Circle of Theatres presents a salon reading of the new play Nana's Closet, by local playwright Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, on Sunday, February 1, 5:30pm, at the home of Rose Betty and Alan Williams. The play tells the story of a grandmother and her granddaughter confronting the past while going through the older woman's closet. The reading features Sandy Walper and Virginia Gear. Hamilton-Lynne and Alex Alford direct. Proceeds benefit ACoT. Tickets are $20. For info, call 454-TIXS.

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