Gordon Davidson, Founder of L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, Dies at 83

News   Gordon Davidson, Founder of L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, Dies at 83
 
The giant of U.S. regional theatre also directed, produced and stage-managed on Broadway.
Gordon Davidson
Gordon Davidson Craig Schwartz

Gordon Davidson, founder of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and a titan of the American resident theatre movement, has died at age 83.

Davidson ran the theatre for 38 years, from 1967 until his retirement in 2004, building the theatre into a national powerhouse that helped put Los Angeles on the theatrical map. The Los Angeles Times estimated that he directed more than 40 plays and produced more than 300 for the Center Theatre Group, of which the 745-seat Taper is a part, along with the 2,100-seat Ahmanson Theatre. The Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum won the 1977 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

Though primarily associated with the West Coast theatre he created, he found time to direct, produce, co-produce or stage manage 40 shows on Broadway, including Smokey Joe's Cafe; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; The Kentucky Cycle (Pulitzer Prize); The Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Prize); Children of a Lesser God (Tony Award); The Shadow Box (Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize); Jelly's Last Jam; and, perhaps, his supreme achievement, both parts of Pulitzer and Tony Award winner Angels in America, most of which originated at the Taper or was co-produced with it.

The Brooklyn-born Davidson began his career as a stage manger at the Phoenix Theatre Company and at the American Shakepseare Festival in Stratford, CT. He moved his base of operations to Los Angeles in 1965.

In 2004 he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre in New York.

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