Wednesday, January 04, 2012

David Wheeler RIP

The Boston Globe confirms that David Wheeler, long-time director at the American Repertory Theater and founder of  The Theatre Company of Boston, has died.

David was a great fixture on the Boston theater scene and directed many memorable productions at the ART, and his tenure at the Theatre Company of Boston from 1960-1975 reads like a who's who of 70's acting talent. Stockard Channing, Al Pacino, James Wood, Paul Benedict, Blythe Danner and many more luminaries acted in his productions at the Charles Playhouse.  Some productions later moved to New York.

His production of David Rabe's The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel starred Al Pacino and played on Broadway.

On a personal note, David was my directing teacher and his wife Bronia was my first acting teacher.  Through their classes I met the people with whom I would start my theater company and David encouraged us.

This meant a lot to me. I was less than a year out of the Army, with no real theater background. His wealth of experience in the American theater was almost inconceivable, and, yet, he treated every student or member of the Boston theater scene that he came in contact with as a colleague.  

I remember him asking me about the Army and I told him what it was like, he said, "you should write a play!" And so I did. (Here's a review.) A few years later I got my first IRNE nomination for Best New Play.

The video is from the first rehearsal of David's production of No Man's Land at the A.R.T. in 2007.

1 comment:

Ian Thal said...

William J. Barnum, with whom I began my exploration of mime, (and is disinclined to using the internet) worked with Wheeler back in the days of the Theatre Company of Boston, and specifically cites a Wheeler-helmed production of Behen's Quare Fellow as one of the highlights of his acting career.