Nikos Psacharopoulos

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Psacharopolous ca. 1970, Courtesy of the Williamstown Theater Festival

Nikos Psacharopoulos (born Athens, January 18, 1928, died St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, on January 12, 1989 [1]) was an American theater producer, director, and educator.

Born Nickolas Konstantin Athanasios Psacharopoulos VII,[2] he claimed to have organized his first theatrical troupe at age 15 under the Nazi occupation of his homeland.[3] He moved to the United States in 1947 and attended Oberlin College where he directed productions for the Oberlin Mummers. He graduated in 1951 with a degree in art history. Three years later he received a Master of Fine Arts Degree in theater direction from the Yale Drama School. In 1955, he joined the faculty of Yale's undergraduate theater studies department and also taught in the graduate Drama School, where he remained until his death of colon cancer at age 60.

Psacharopoulos was a co-founder of the Williamstown Theater Festival (WTF) in 1955, based in the Adams Memorial Theater on the campus of Williams College. Psacharopoulos went on to serve as WTF's sole artistic executive director for 33 years, creating a professional summer theater that was more than a typical summer stock escapist operation. Under Psacharopoulos' leadership, WTF specialized in the plays of Anton Chekhov and Bertolt Brecht, as well as the work of many classic American playwrights such as Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, and Archibald MacLeish. Psacharopoulos traveled often between his Greek homeland and New York City, his main residence, where he staged theater productions with the Circle-in-the-Square,[4] the New York Pro Musica,[5] and City Opera.[6]

With actress Kate Burton, 1980. Courtesy of the Williamstown Theater Festival: Photo by Joseph Schuyler.

Psacharopoulos' international reputation and demanding artistry drew many famous actors to perform with the WTF, names such as Frank Langella, Kate Burton, Rosemary Harris, Blythe Danner, and Colleen Dewhurst. To all—his "stars" and apprentices—he was a man of great style, a gourmet who would excuse himself from a table of friends [7] to confer with a restaurant's chef; he was something of a dandy [8] who, nevertheless, was always addressed simply as "Nikos."

Many directors and leaders of American theater were inspired by Nikos' guidance. Each year he would choose an assistant from his students at Yale to accompany him to WTF to experience their first seasons as professional directors. Peter H. Hunt, Austin Pendleton, Keith Fowler, and Arvin Brown are among those who first worked with Nikos and went on to direct and teach at theaters and universities around the country.

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Actor's Chekhov: Interviews with Nikos Psacharopoulos and the Company of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, on the Plays of Anton Chekhov by Jean Hackett, John Guare and Nikos Psacharopoulos
  • Toward Mastery: An Acting Class With Nikos Psacharopoulos (Career Development Series) by Nikos Psacharopoulos and Jean Hackett

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nikos Psacharopoulos, 60, Co-Founder of Theater", by Richard F. Shepard, New York Times, January 13, 1989
  2. ^ "Director Nikos Psacharopoulos Draws An A-Team to His Picture-Perfect Summer Theater," By Kristin McMurran, People, Archive, August 15, 1983 Vol. 20 No. 7
  3. ^ Nikos Psacharopoulos Papers, 1925-1987
  4. ^ "Review/Theater; Danner and Quinn In a New 'Streetcar'," by Frank Rich, New York Times, March 11, 1988
  5. ^ The Play of Daniel, New York Pro Musica, the Cloisters, New York City, 1958.
  6. ^ "Opera: Lizzie Borden," by Allen Hughes, New York Times, April 24, 1976
  7. ^ Recalled by Janet Bell and Austin Pendleton
  8. ^ Witness his black tie openings and his dashing annual program photos!

External links[edit]

Nikos Psacharopoulos Biography (1928-1989) on www.filmreference.com