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Spring Exhibit: Robert Cohen Takes the Stage

Above: As the Fool in William Shakespeare's King Lear, 1961. Poster for The Prince by Robert Cohen, 2001.

The Libraries’ spring exhibit is Stage to Stage: The Theatrical Work of Robert Cohen, celebrating the accomplishments of UCI’s renowned stage director, distinguished professor of acting, and member of our founding faculty.

Robert Cohen, Claire Trevor Professor of Drama in the School of the Arts, is one of UCI’s most notable and publicly visible founding faculty members. Since arriving for UCI’s first year of classes in 1965, he has directed more than 70 productions on campus and 30 on the professional stage, published 12 books on acting and theater, written new plays, and translated classic ones. In 1993 he was honored with the UCI Medal, the campus’s highest honor, and in 1999 he received the Career Achievement Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Stage to Stage focuses on Cohen’s productions at UCI. Beginning with Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana in 1966, he has brought to life the timeless works of Shakespeare, Molière, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bertolt Brecht, and many others. His most recent production was the contemporary play Rabbit Hole in fall 2007. The exhibit features materials from the many production books he has compiled over the years in which he gathered programs, annotated scripts, photographs, press releases, rehearsal notes, theatre ground plans, published reviews, costume sketches, and much more. Cohen generously donated the complete collection to Special Collections and Archives several years ago.

Robert Cohen teaching at UCI in 1966.

Although he states “I have no favorites” among his plays, he clearly takes particular pride in certain shows. For example, his 1989 production of Shakespeare’s tragic King Lear was judged by the Los Angeles Times as the best play staged anywhere in Southern California during that year—no small feat for an effort featuring student actors that was rated against all productions by professional companies. The Plaie Called Corpus Christi, presented in three parts between 1985 and 1987 and translated by Cohen, was a rare contemporary staging of a medieval passion play. In 2001 his original play The Prince, in which Cohen brings the notorious Renaissance nobleman Niccolò Machiavelli to life, was judged by the Times to be “stirring” and “exciting.”

As George in in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, 1971.

Beyond his directorial accomplishments, Cohen is a passionate and renowned acting teacher whose legacy can be found on stages throughout the world. In 1966 he founded the UCI Student Repertory Theatre, which was literally the first repertory company established for an undergraduate program at any university in the United States. His books on acting theory and practice are in wide use, many of them released in multiple editions, some translated into several other languages, and all still in print.

The opening night event featured a conversation on drama at UCI between Professor Cohen and Eli Simon, Chair of the Drama Department. Simon states, intending no hyperbole, that Cohen’s influence on UCI Drama for the past 43 years is such that faculty and students “align ourselves around him, taking solace every day in the knowledge that his unfettered brilliance as a director, writer, and teacher of acting positively affects everyone in our theatrical universe.”

Stage to Stage is on view in Langson Library through October.

For more information contact Jackie Dooley, Head of Special Collections and Archives (jmdooley@uci.edu or x44935).


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Inside this issue

Message from the University Librarian: Library Fellowships for Undergraduate Research

Explore "Next Generation Melvyl"

Debut of Theatre and Dance Videos Online

Spring Exhibit: Robert Cohen Takes the Stage

TXT a Librarian @ UCI

Physician Explores Librarianship

Library Recruitments

UCI Libraries Assist with NIH Open Access Policy



UCI Libraries Update

Jackie Dooley, Jim Galbraith, Carol Hughes, Susan Lessick, Gerald Munoff, Cathy Palmer, Brian Williams

Editor: Jackie Dooley

Design & Production:
Sylvia Irving

Web Version:
Sage Kim