Derek Anson Jones, the rising American director on whose watch Wit won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, will be remembered at a memorial service 5:30 PM Feb. 7 at the Union Square Theatre in Manhattan.
The public memorial will include tributes from playwrights Margaret Edson and Wendy Wasserstein, actress Kathleen Chalfant, Long Wharf Theatre artistic director Doug Hughes, designer Ming Cho Lee, and others.
Jones, 38, died Jan. 17 of complications from AIDS. His legacy includes the unsentimental staging of Wit that starred Chalfant at Long Wharf, for MCC Theatre and in the commercial move to the Union Square (now starring Lisa Harrow). His vision continues in the national tour (beginning Feb. 1 with Judith Light) and the current Los Angeles staging (with Chalfant).
He also staged a revised version of Wasserstein's An American Daughter and a revival of Much Ado About Nothing, both for Long Wharf in New Haven, CT.
A directing fellowship has been established in the name of Jones. Donations may be made to The Derek Anson Jones Directing Fellowship c/o Long Wharf Theatre Company, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, CT 06511. *
Jones made his name directing the New York premiere of Wit, by longtime friend Edson. The drama tells of a poetry professor's brave fight against -- and her final days with -- ovarian cancer.
Edson said in a statement, "Our friendship began decades before Wit, and I trusted it would continue for decades beyond. I am pleased that so many people came to admire his spirit and talent; I am sorry so many people will join me in thinking sadly about what else he might have had up his sleeve."
For his direction of Wit, Jones won the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award and received a Drama Desk nomination. He received the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Director in 1997 and was awarded an NEA/TCG Directing Fellowship in 1996.
Jones was born in Washington, DC, where he attended Sidwell Friends School, the place he first met future playwright Edson. He earned a bachelor's degree in theatre and American civilization from Brown University and an MFA from Yale School of Drama.
Jones' additional credits include Without Skin or Breathlessness at P.S. 122, Measure for Measure for Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Angelique for MCC Theatre, the world premiere of Splash Hatch on the E Going Down at New York Stage and Film and Vaclav Havel's The Memorandum at the Guthrie Theater.
Hughes, artistic director of Long Wharf, said, "It was my privilege to produce three of Derek Anson Jones' exquisite productions. He was a master of a number of theatrical dialects, but his work was always characterized by a profoundly humane spirit. Derek believed that theatre could really matter. In a brief but extraordinary career, he demonstrated just that."
Jones is survived by Denis O'Hare, the Broadway actor known for playing Ernst in the Broadway revival of Cabaret, and parents Raymond and Gladys Jones of Washington, DC, and a brother, Raymond Jones Jr. of Aurora, CO.
Funeral services were private.
The Union Square Theatre is at 100 E. 17th St. in Manhattan.
-- By Kenneth Jones