F. Curtis Canfield

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Fayette Curtis Canfield
Born (1903-07-29)July 29, 1903
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Died June 8, 1986(1986-06-08) (aged 82)

F.[ayette] Curtis Canfield (born July 29, 1903 in Bridgeport, CT; died in Northampton, MA on June 8, 1986), was an American theater director, drama professor, and the first dean of the Yale School of Drama.[1][2]


A member of the 1925 class of Amherst College, Canfield stayed on to teach, eventually becoming Stanley King Professor of dramatic arts and, from 1938, director of the Kirby Memorial Theater.[3] In 1954, he was appointed as the first dean of the Yale School of Drama, remaining there until 1967.[4] At Yale, he produced the premieres of several major plays, including Archibald MacLeish's Pulitzer-winning J.B., (which was chosen by the U.S. State Department to represent American university theater at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair) [5] and staged memorable revivals at Yale and off-Broadway such as Stephen Vincent Benet's dramatic poem, John Brown's Body.[6][7] He left Yale in 1967 to teach at the University of Pittsburgh, where he stayed until his retirement in 1973.[8]


Canfield's career is distinguished by many factors. His expertise on the emerging 20th century Irish drama led to the publication of several editions of essays and plays, including Plays of the Irish Renaissance, 1880-1930 and Plays of Changing Ireland, and his thoughtful, analytical approach to play direction prompted the publication of the seminal The Craft of Play Directing. Most unusual for a professor of his era, his love of theater led him to accept regular professional directing work in summers and on sabbatical while maintaining a full academic career. Among other assignments, he directed the 1949 WNBW production of Julius Caesar produced by his Amherst, Masquers to open the Folger Shakespeare Library Theater in Washington DC.[9] From July to September 1949, as a pioneer in the live direction of television drama, he produced a series of eight live half-hour dramas on NBC, featuring actors in short plays by Thornton Wilder and Edna St. Vincent Millay. He produced live TV performances of Hedda Gabler, Richard III, Othello, The Rivals and Uncle Vanya.[10]


Canfield, F. Curtis, Plays of Changing Ireland, The Macmillan Company; First edition 1936, ASIN: B000IBA1D2
Canfield, ed. Plays of the Irish Renaissance, 1880-1930, Ayer Co Pub, June 1974, ISBN 0836982487
Canfield, The Craft of Play Directing Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963, ASIN: B000O91ZW4


  1. ^ Kleiman, Dena, "F. Curtis Canfield, 82, Dead," N.Y. Times, June 26, 1986 http://www.nytimes.com/1986/06/26/obituaries/f-curtis-canfield-82-dead-a-leading-drama-educator.html
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times, "F. Curtis Canfield, Yale Dean, TV Drama Pioneer," June 28, 1986, http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-28/business/fi-25596_1_yale-dean
  3. ^ Kleiman
  4. ^ Canfield Papers, 1929-1981, Amherst Archives, http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma81.html
  5. ^ Braun, Gene, Richard B. K. McLanathan (1991). Gene Brown, ed. The Arts (Great Contemporary Issues Series). Ayer Co Pub. p. 297. ISBN 978-0405111532. 
  6. ^ "John Brown's Body (As staged at the Yale Drama School & Off-Broadway under the direction of Curtis Canfield..., http://goti581.blog.com/2011/12/19/john-browns-body-as-staged-at-the-yale-drama-school-off-broadway-under-the-direction-of-curtis-canfield-dramatists-plays-stephen-vincent-benet-fenno-heath-music/
  7. ^ http://sitesmedia.s3.amazonaws.com/fundlist/files/2010/03/301-Engel.pdf
  8. ^ Canfield
  9. ^ Academy Theatre and "Shakespeare at Amherst" at https://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/exhibitions/play/shakespeare#caesar
  10. ^ L.A. Times, June 28, 1986:http://articles.latimes.com/1986-06-28/business/fi-25596_1_yale-dean