Harold Scott (director)
|Born||6 September 1935
Morristown, New Jersey
|Died||16 July 2006
Newark, New Jersey
Harold Russell Scott Jr. (6 September 1935 – 16 July 2006) was an American stage director, actor and educator, who broke racial barriers in American theatre. Scott first became known for his work as an electrifying stage actor with a piercing voice, and later as an innovative director of numerous productions throughout the country, from Broadway to the Tony Award-winning regional theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where he was the first African-American artistic director in the history of American regional theatre.
Life and career
Scott was born in Morristown, New Jersey. His mother was a housewife and his father, Harold Russell Scott Sr., was a general practitioner. Scott was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard. He had a career as a stage director on Broadway and Off Broadway, but began as an actor of note, performing in Jean Genet's The Blacks and an acclaimed production of the premiere of The Death of Bessie Smith by Edward Albee. Winner of the Obie Award for acting in Jean Genet's Deathwatch in 1959, Scott also played on Broadway in The Cool World.
Scott was chosen by Elia Kazan to be an original member of the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, where he performed in Arthur Miller's After the Fall and Incident at Vichy, and was cast by José Quintero in Thomas Middleton's Changeling and in Eugene O'Neill's Marco Millions. In 1984, Scott returned to Off Broadway to play Brutus in a modern dress production of Shakespeare's Caesar with the Riverside Shakespeare Company at The Shakespeare Center under the direction of W. Stuart McDowell.
Scott staged numerous innovative productions in New York and at regional theatres, including Morgan Freeman in The Mighty Gents on Broadway in 1978, and Avery Brooks in Paul Robeson on Broadway twice: in 1988 and again in 1995. Scott also directed the twenty-fifth anniversary production of A Raisin in the Sun, with Esther Rolle. This production opened at the Roundabout Theatre in New York; it then broke box-office records at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Scott's production received nine National Theater Awards from the NAACP, including best director, and was filmed for public television's Great Performances.
Scott was head of the directing program at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
He also taught classes in acting at the Equity summer-stock theater The Peterborough Players, in Peterborough, NH in 1980, where he starred as Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire, and once filled in with only hours notice for a sick actor in Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday. He was extremely well-respected and beloved by his acting students there, who remember his unique and impressive training well due to his intense, insightful, caring personality. He then continued on at the Peterborough Players as Staff Director, 1981–85, Associate Director, 1985–88, and Acting Artistic Director, 1989-90.
In February 2006, Scott directed his final play, Yellowman, an examination of black-on-black prejudice, at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where, in 1973 he began a two-year appointment as artistic director. He was the first African-American to have earned such in a major regional theatre.
- Campbell Robertson (2 August 2006). "Harold Scott, 70, Director Who Broke Racial Barriers, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
- "A Brief History of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park". Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
- Lillian Ross; Helen Ross (17 February 1961). "The Player A Profile Of An Art". Simon And Schuster – via Internet Archive.
- Herbert Mitgang (14 March 1984). "Stage: Modern Caesar". The New York Times.
- "Theater Arts Faculty Directory". Mason Gross School of the Arts. Archived from the original on 2004-03-05. Retrieved 2008-06-02.