So long, Farewell: Curt Dempster


The Long goodbye: Curt Dempster

We’ve received information on the memorial service for EST Founder Curt Dempster. (Do also see Michael Feingold’s lovely appreciation.)


Sunday, APRIL 29th

A memorial service for Curt Dempster, Founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre, will be held at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, 899 10th Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets) on Sunday, April 29th, at 5 PM. Curt Dempster founded the Ensemble Studio Theatre in 1971. Mr. Dempster led EST to prominence as the most influential developmental theatre in the United States.

After the jump: More on Dempster’s career and information on reservations:

He produced or developed over 6000 new plays, including those of Arthur Miller, Horton Foote, Wendy Wasserstein, Christopher Durang, David Mamet, Marsha Norman, Frank D. Gilroy and Tennessee Williams. In 1993, Mr. Dempster was honored by Carnegie Mellon University for his life long commitment to developing new American plays. In June of 1994, he accepted the prestigious Village Voice OBIE Award for EST’s annual Marathon of New One-Act Plays. Other awards include the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, the Drama League Citation, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the American Theatre Wing Annual Award. He has served on the Board of the Society of the Stage Directors and Choreographers, as a consultant for the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. As a director, he staged new plays by Joyce Carol Oates, Tennessee Williams, Frank D. Gilroy, Edward Allan Baker and Horton Foote, including critically acclaimed productions of Mr. Foote’s Road to the Graveyard and Blind Date.

Described by the New York Times as, “an innovative force in theater,” Mr. Dempster also directed The Crucible, The Seagull, and an experimental company production of Hamlet with Jon Voight in the title role. During his apprenticeship he served as Assistant Director to Jerome Robbins and Ulu Grossbard.

Under Curt Dempster’s leadership, EST became a seminal force in the American theatre and the pre-eminent developmental theatre in the country. As a place of origin it has developed two generations of theatre artists. Eminent artists, who have taken their place in the forefront of American theatre, have come out of EST.

Playwrights who were first discovered and developed at EST include Richard Greenberg, John Patrick Shanley, Jose Rivera, Eduardo Machado, Leslie Ayvazian, and many more. Early support and mid-career replenishment aided the careers of Christopher Durang, Horton Foote, David Mamet, Romulus Linney, Frank D. Gilroy, and the late Arthur Miller and Wendy Wasserstein. Curt developed and produced many plays of each of these playwrights, thereby providing them with a life-long home base from which to develop a major body of work. This element is a core principle of EST’s work. Over the last thirty-five years, under his stewardship, EST has provided the American theatre with hundreds of gifted professionals.

The organization has had a major influence on new, emerging, and established writers, and has helped to determine the course of both non-profit and commercial theatre in America. No other theatre in this country can claim the same level of excellence, volume of work, outcomes, integrity, and clarity of purpose, and non-stop critical acclaim, which characterizes EST’s legendary history as a pioneering force. EST has the largest standing artistic company in the world, has produced more plays, and developed more artists than any other theatre organization in history.

Seating is limited. For reservations, and more information, please call 212/247-4982, ext. 20 or email: