In Memoriam - Leon Katz

Playwright, dramaturg, and teacher Leon Katz died on January 23, 2017, at the age of 97. Former student Don Eisen writes this in tribute:

 

"Sad day yesterday. Through the Dramaturgy List, I learned of the death of my mentor and probably the greatest teacher I had the good fortune to study with -- Professor Leon Katz. Leon was on the faculty of U. of Pittsburgh when I was pursuing my doctorate there. I was crushed when he left Pitt to teach dramaturgy at Yale, but in the goodness of his heart, he arranged, nonetheless, to be advisor for my dissertation on Chekhov, and to do so pro bono and In absentia. So we conferred by letter and phone, and each time I had a draft of a chapter, I would board a train from Pittsburgh to New Haven. Leon would pick me up at the station, take me home to sleep over, and in the morning over bagels and lox he would read my offering and give me the most cogent and brilliant insights, critiques and advice, which I would take home and give it the most diligent attention possible. When the time came for my defense, Leon returned to Pittsburgh to see me through it. As a result, I received my doctorate, and my dissertation won the national ATHE award for best dissertation. Leon remained a close friend from a long distance. I visited him once in L.A, at, I believe, Marina del Rey. Tanned and in sandals, he was as jaunty as any angeleno, looking like he had just driven over from Venice Beach. Truth be told, Leon seemed at home and comfortable in any environment, and, no matter the venue, would gladly hold forth on any subject as if he had just finished researching an article or book on the topic. I’ve missed him for thirty five years, and I will miss him all the more now. Leon's was an amazing career, — his talent as a theater artist, his contributions to teaching, scholarship, dramaturgy and the art of playwriting, but most of all for his precious gift which the greatest of teachers give to their students, his insatiable love of learning."

- Don Eisen, Professor Emeritus,  Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Now of Leisure World, Silver Spring, MD
 
You can read Katz's full obituary here. He is also the author of the lauded book on dramatic theory, Cleaning Augean Stables: Examining Drama's Strategies.

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