George Ferencz, Innovative Theater Director, Dies at 74

George Ferencz, a director who was a fixture at theaters identified for experimental work like La MaMa E.T.C. in Manhattan, died on Sept. 14 in Brooklyn. He was 74.

His household stated the trigger was cardiac arrest.

Mr. Ferencz (pronounced FAIR-ents) directed items by unknowns in addition to identify writers like Sam Shepard, Amiri Baraka and Mac Wellman. One specialty was giving startling new interpretations to beforehand staged works, each traditional and up to date. One other was infusing productions with music in uncommon methods; he collaborated quite a lot of instances with the jazz drummer Max Roach.

Mr. Ferencz first drew consideration within the New York theater world as a founder and co-artistic director of the Unimaginable Ragtime Theater, generally known as I.R.T., which introduced a variety of productions in small areas starting within the mid-Seventies. His 1976 staging of “The Bushy Ape,” a 1922 Eugene O’Neill play, gave that work a visceral immediacy.

“The principle cause one attends off-off-Broadway reveals is within the one probability in a thousand of discovering a manufacturing nearly as good because the Unimaginable Ragtime Theater’s model of Eugene O’Neill’s ‘The Bushy Ape,’” Glenne Currie of United Press Worldwide wrote.

Mr. Ferencz scored one other success quickly after with a extra obscure O’Neill play, “Dynamo.”

“If lesser performs by nice playwrights are to be seen,” Mel Gussow wrote in a evaluation in The New York Occasions, “then Mr. Ferencz’s productions may function fashions.”

Mr. Ferencz left the I.R.T. in 1977 however continued to direct Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway, together with a mini-festival of Shepard performs at Columbia College in 1979, shortly after Mr. Shepard had gained the Pulitzer Prize for “Buried Little one.”

Two years later Mr. Ferencz mounted a full manufacturing of a kind of items beneath the title “Cowboy Mouth (in Live performance).” Right here he revisited “Cowboy Mouth,” which Mr. Shepard and Patti Smith had written and first carried out in 1971. Mr. Ferencz’s manufacturing, with Brooks McKay and Annette Kurek within the roles originated by Mr. Shepard and Ms. Smith, imagined their back-and-forth exchanges as a rock live performance.

“The outcome,” Mr. Gussow wrote in The Occasions, “is a scorching, surrealistic 70 minutes that in its personal stark means comes nearer to the anarchic spirit of Shepard than some elaborate productions of extra full performs.”

Mr. Ferencz’s collaborations Mr. Baraka included directing his “Boy and Tarzan Seem in Clearing” at the Henry Road Settlement’s New Federal Theater in 1981.

The subsequent yr Mr. Ferencz started a protracted affiliation with Ellen Stewart and her influential experimental theater, La MaMa, in Decrease Manhattan, directing a portion of “Cash, a Jazz Opera,” composed by George Gruntz with a guide by Mr. Baraka. He based La MaMa’s Experiments studying collection for experimental works in 1998 and ran it for 16 years.

Mr. Ferencz directed effectively past New York’s downtown scene, staging productions at Actors Theater of Louisville in Kentucky, the American Music Theater Competition in Philadelphia, San Diego Repertory Theater and quite a few different venues.

“I look at the theater as a hammer,” he instructed The Bangor Every day Information in 1979, when he was visitor director for a manufacturing of Donald Freed’s “Inquest” at the College of Maine, “aggressive and extremely theatrical, one thing you’ll be able to’t get by flicking on the tv change. It’s got to have spectacle and shock worth.”

George Michael Ferencz was born on Feb. 3, 1947, in a Hungarian Catholic neighborhood of Cleveland. His father, George John Ferencz, owned an auto-parts retailer, and his mom, Anne (Haydu) Ferencz, was a homemaker and a former magnificence queen.

He studied journalism at the College of Detroit however transferred to Kent State College in Ohio, the place he pursued theater, directing performs by Edward Albee, Arthur Kopit and others. He earned a bachelor’s diploma in 1970 and settled in New York quickly after.

In 1969 he married Pam Mitchell, who grew to become a founding father of I.R.T. together with him, Ted Story and Cynthia Crane. The couple divorced in 1978, and in 1986 he married Sally Lesser, a famous costume designer he had labored with for years; they collaborated on some 65 productions.

She survives him, as does their son, Jack.

Along with his La MaMa work, Mr. Ferencz was a favourite of Crystal Subject, the co-founder and creative director of Theater for the New Metropolis.

“He had the political and historic understanding that may be a necessity for socially related theater,” she stated in a press release. “He was a Brechtian director whose mission was not solely to interact you emotionally, but in addition to make you assume and assume onerous concerning the world by which the story lives.”

Amongst Mr. Ferencz’s frequent collaborators was Mr. Roach, whom he met at a celebration at Mr. Baraka’s home; they joined forces in 1984 for a staging of three Shepard performs carried out in repertory, with Mr. Roach offering authentic music. Amongst their later efforts was a jazz-infused model of “A Midsummer Evening’s Dream,” staged at San Diego Rep in 1987.

“George loves jazz and directs like that,” Mr. Roach, who died in 2007, instructed The San Francisco Examiner in 1987. “He type of lets issues unfold the best way of us like Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington would do. He is aware of the place he needs to go, however he provides all people an opportunity to make a contribution.”

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