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Remembering Ruth Maleczech, 1939-2013

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Philip Himberg, Artist Director, Theatre Program

On behalf of Sundance Institute and the Theatre Program, I am saddened to share the news that a beloved alum of our Theatre Lab, Ruth Maleczech, passed away Monday, September 30. Ruth was more than just another ‘theatre artist’; she was perhaps the mother of us all.

A co-founder of the visionary Mabou Mines Company in the early ‘70s (along with Lee Breuer, Fred Neumann, and Joanne Akalitis), she and her colleagues re-tooled theatre in America. Her work as an actor, as well as a director and leader of Mabou Mines defined a new era in our field. She was a genius in her own way, and none of us touched by her will forget her performances in Mother Courage and Her Children, King Lear, or Hajj. She came to our Lab as a generative artist/director on two occasions: Las Horas De Belen (performed in Spanish) was a stunning visual narrative of a Mexican house worker, and Song For New York (at White Oak Lab) ended up being performed on a barge in the East River, while audiences sat along the banks. Her imagination and courage knew no bounds. We built a three story metal structure at White Oak for Ruth to rehearse on.

Aside from her artistry, she was simply the loveliest, and most loving human being. I always felt ‘taken care of’ while I was trying to support Ruth, and family and friendship came first. We have lost a pioneer, but a generation of artists who were influenced by her (myself included) will hopefully carry on the torch. Ruth was a true original, and she was why many of us feel so passionate about what we do.

 

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