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Earle Gister, American acting teacher, died he was 77.


Earle R. Gister was an American acting teacher[1] and was a pioneer in professional theatre training from the mid-1960s  died he was 77..[2] Earle Gister was renowned for his specialty and passion for the plays of Anton Chekhov.[3]

(March 30, 1934 – January 22, 2012) 

Life and career

Gister (Carleton College ’56 with a B.A. in history) of New Haven, Connecticut, spent more than 30 years training professional
actors. After earning his B.A. at Carleton, he “traveled with Corrigan
to Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, and earned an MFA in drama.” He
credited the foundation of his acting technique to his studies with
such people as Robert Corrigan, “the drama professor who would serve as
his mentor,”[4] and Paul Mann, his acting coach in New York City.
Reported by the Yale Daily News: “Earle had a very large educational
impact on the country,” said J. Michael Miller, director of The Actors’
Center in New York and co-founder of the League, which disbanded in
1987. “If there was one man who made a significant difference in
professional theater training, it was him.”
Also from the Yale Daily News: “Over a more than 40-year career in
the world of theater, Gister mentored some of today’s most celebrated
actors, directed the entire canon of Anton Chekhov at the Yale Repertory
Theatre and earned a reputation as one of the nation’s most respected
theater professors. His reforms to theater education changed the
prevalent attitude that “training actors was like training mechanics,”
Miller said, and encouraged the development of hundreds of Master of Fine Arts programs in acting across the country.”
For a number of years Earle Gister taught at Carnegie Mellon University where he was the chairman of the drama department.[5]
From the New York Times archive, “The Board of Higher Education
yesterday approved the appointment of Earle R. Gister as director of the
Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts at City College. The
appointment [was] described by a college official as a step toward transforming the center into a major metropolitan area theater-training program.”[6]
Then, under Lloyd Richards who was the dean of the Yale School of
Drama from 1979 to 1991, Earle Gister grew into a Master Acting Teacher.[7] Earle was named the first Lloyd Richards Adjunct Professor of Drama in 1994.[8]
Following Richards, Stan Wojewodski, Jr., took over the stewardship of
the Yale School of Drama from 1991 to 2002. For a total of 19 years
Earle Gister was Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Chair of the MFA
Acting Program at the Yale School of Drama. In 1999 Earle Gister
retired from the Yale School of Drama.
In 1991 Gister shared a Tony Award on behalf of the Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theatre.[9] He was a member of the National Theatre Conference since 1967, a founding member of the League of Professional Theatre Training Programs in 1972, a Tony Award nominating committee member in 1980, and a member the first grants award panel in theater for the National Endowment for the Arts. He and his wife have three sons.[10]
Earle Gister was a Co-founder of the League of Professional Theatre Training Programs, advisor to the National Endowment for the Arts, and co-chair of the training panel of the Theatre Communications Group.
Gister has played a significant role in the nurturing and development
of most of the major theatre training programs in the United States.[11]

Professional History

James Bundy, dean of the Yale School of Drama and artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre,
is quoted in Playbill.com saying of Gister, “I can vividly recall his
galvanic effect on so many actors, his insightful and soulful readings
of the given circumstances of great plays, his deeply thoughtful notes
and advice, and his love of ice cream. It is astonishing to think of the
breadth of talent that Earle brought to Yale and nurtured here, and it
is worth remembering that for years, when he was asked to name the
greatest strength of the School of Drama, his inevitably generous reply
was, ‘the students.'”[12]
Gister’s teaching career included: Teacher-North Carolina School of
the Arts; Teacher-The Juilliard School; Teacher-NYU; Associate Dean-Yale
School of Drama; Associate Dean and Master Teacher of Acting-Yale
School of Drama; Chairman of the Acting Department-Yale School of Drama;
Head of Acting-Carnegie Mellon University; and Chairman of the Drama
Department-Carnegie Mellon University.

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Teacher and Board Member-The Actors Center
  • Board Member (past)-Leonard Davis Center

To see more of who died in 2011 click here

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