Earle R. Gister
|Earle R. Gister|
|Born||Earle R. Gister
March 30, 1934
Racine, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||January 22, 2012(aged 77)|
Earle R. Gister (March 30, 1934 – January 22, 2012) was an American acting teacher and was a pioneer in professional theatre training from the mid-1960s. Earle Gister was renowned for his specialty and passion for the plays of Anton Chekhov.
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," 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. 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."
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. Earle was named the first Lloyd Richards Adjunct Professor of Drama in 1994. 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. 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.
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.
Earle Gister also was the co-founder, with Lynne Melillo Bolton, of White Heron Theatre Company in New York City in 2004. He made his New York directing debut with a production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, presented by White Heron at Second Stage Theatre, May 24-29. After Mr. Gister's death, Ms. Bolton moved White Heron to Nantucket, where, with new partner Michael Kopko, she has established it as a professional Equity theater that produces classical works and develops new plays for the world stage. 
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.'"
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
- "Earle Gister, Yale Acting Master, Stages His Passion, The Seagull, in NYC, May 24–29" by Kenneth Jones, 24 May 2004 http://www.playbill.com/news/article/86319.html
- Central Opera Service Bulletin, Spring 1975, http://www.cpanda.org/pdfs/csob/1703.pdf
- New York Times Archive (April 29, 1975)
- Master Teachers of Theatre: Observations on Teaching Theatre by Nine American Masters, by Burnet M. Hobgood; Southern Illinois University Press, 1988. 216 pgs. http://www.questiaschool.com/read/24993776
- A Tony Encore: More Applause for the State's Regional Theaters, By ALVIN KLEIN, Published: June 2, 1991, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE7D6133AF931A35755C0A967958260&n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FSubjects%2FT%2FTheater
- Carleton College Voice, Issue: supplement 2001, Volume: 66 Number: 5, https://apps.carleton.edu/voice/PDFStory.php?id=44&type=features
- Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, http://www.masongross.rutgers.edu/theater/theater_f_dept_masters.php
- "Earle Gister, Yale Acting Master, Stages His Passion, The Seagull, in NYC, May 24-29" Playbill, April 28, 2004 http://www.playbill.com/article/earle-gister-yale-acting-master-stages-his-passion-the-seagull-in-nyc-may-24-29-com-119406
- "Making Dreams Come True, White Heron Theatre" Yesterday's Island, July 14, 2016 http://yesterdaysisland.com/making-dreams-come-true/
Acting: The Gister Method, by Joseph Alberti and Earle Gister; Pearson, 2012; http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Acting-The-Gister-Method/9780205032259.page ISBN 0-205-03225-7 | ISBN 978-0-205-03225-9 | Publication Date: January 29, 2012 | Edition: 1