A new directorship in the UR Theatre Department was awarded to Artistic Director of the International Theatre Program Nigel Maister on February 28. The new award was established by alumni last month in honor of long-standing professor of English and John Hall Deane Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry Russell Peck and his wife Ruth.
Maister is the first recipient of the Ruth and Russell Peck Artistic Directorship.
“The choice was made in acknowledgement of the splendid work Nigel Maister has done over the years in developing the UR International Theatre Program to its current shining status,” Peck said.
Currently, as the artistic director of the International Theatre Program, Maister has a wide range of jobs and responsibilities. He supervises all Theatre Department faculty and students, oversees Drama House, decides the class schedule that will be offered each semester, and designs the posters for all Theatre Program Plays. Maister also chooses which plays will be put on at UR each semester and personally directs at least two of them.
Maister is originally from South Africa but came to the U.S. to study directing at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Through a series of coincidences I ended up coming to UR, first as a guest artist and then, after that went well, the following year I was hired as the Associate Director,” Maister said.
Maister was promoted to Artistic Director six years later, a position he has held ever since. He will remain Artistic Director of the International Theatre Program in addition to his new position as the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director.
Maister said of the award, “It is, principally, an honor. I won’t have any additional duties, though I will have to live up to Professor Peck (and his wife Ruth’s) extraordinary contributions to this university and its students.”
Peck is a professor of English who, in his 53-year career at UR, has taught classes in poetry, medieval studies, Shakespeare, and theatre. He has been very involved in the Theatre Program, teaching classes in English and medieval theatre as well as being one of the founders of Drama House in 1972.
In honor of these and other contributions to UR by Professor Peck and his wife Ruth, UR alumni Joseph Willett ’75 and Janice Willett ’78 recently decided to establish the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Directorship.
Janice Willett said of the award, “Especially now, when support for the arts is under fire, it is important to recognize the importance of the liberal arts and to make sure they receive the funding they deserve.”
Maister and Peck also had praise for the Theatre Program.
“The Theatre Program is a really vibrant, open, and exciting part of this university,” Master said.
Peck expressed similar sentiments, saying, “[Students] are missing out on some of the greatest opportunities that UR has to offer if they are not attending all current Todd productions.”
Passanisi is a member of the class of 2017.