Friday, November 21, 2014

December 2014: The End of History

With video, projections, sound and music as well as live action in a transmedia event, HSU students explore themes of love and revolution inspired by the earth-shaking happenings 25 years ago in 1989. 

 The End of History is performed Thursdays through Saturdays, December 4-6 and 11-13 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2 p.m. on December 14, in Gist Hall Theatre. Tickets are $10 general/$8 students & seniors, with a limited number of free tickets for HSU students at each performance, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. The End of History is devised and performed by HSU students, directed by professor Mark Swetz and senior Shea King.

Media: KHSU Art Waves, Mad River Union, Humboldt State Now
"The End of History is about love and revolution,” said co-director Shea King, a senior theatre major. “That’s essentially what’s been driving the show from the beginning.”
Beginning in a class in spring semester, students have been researching, improvising and devising this “transmedia” project.

 “Transmedia is a newer thing in the theatre world,” King said, “but it’s just a fancy way of saying a mixed media project. There’s a lot of video projection, sound mixing and live mixing. We have a band for certain sections of the show as well as dance pieces. It’s all mixed in with film realism, scene work and so on. We’re bringing together all these media to make one cohesive show.”
                                              Isabella Ceja

“On our team we have historians, we have science people, we have people from other majors, we have a film documentarian coinciding with the show,” King said, “so it’s ultimately just this big collage of arts and people from different parts of the university, because that was really important to us from the beginning, getting different student partners involved."
                              Thanat Berhe and Kyle Lassen in rehearsal

Co-director and HSU Theatre, Film and Dance professor Mark Swetz agreed. “With the exception of my involvement, this is an entirely student created, performed, staffed and designed show.”
“It started out as ‘the 1989 project,’ but now it’s inspired by--but does not take place in--1989,” King said. “We’re loosely following events like revolution in eastern Europe, the first same sex marriage in Denmark.”
Other important events of 1989 include the fall of the Berlin wall, rebellion and repression in China’s Tiananmen Square, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and the Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area.

“The catalysts for the show are quite numerous and at this point fairly abstracted in the final project,” Swetz said. “We don’t want to mislead people who might come looking for a show about “x” since “x” will most likely not be obvious in the production.”

The End of History: Our Cast

Thsnat Berhe
Isabella Ceja
Aurora Commeree
Ambar Cuevas
Tossa Hayward
Kyle Lassen
Cory Stewart

The End of History: Our Production

Director/Sceneographer: Mark Swetz
Director: Shea King
Lighting Director: Ethan Ng
Sound Director: Rilo Wade, Connor Spurr
Costume Director: Kayden O'Keefe
Video Artist: Samantha Boyd
Choreographer: Fiona Meila
Script: Heidi Voelker, Harry Sundberg, Bryan E. Kashon
Dramaturge: Stephanie Buck
Production/Stage Manager: Jillian Park
Head Dresser: Michelle Purnell-Grace
Assistant Director: Cody Miranda
Assistant Stage Managers: Margaret Champaux, Sam Silva

Costume Shop Manager: Catherine Brown
Administrative Support: Debra Ryerson, Lorraine Dillon
Publicity Photography: Kellie Brown
Publicity/blog copy & design: Bill Kowinski

The End of History?

commemorating the Czech Velvet Revolution
The phrase "The End of History" comes from an article and a book (The End of History and The Last Man) by political economist Francis Fukuyama.

After the revolutionary changes in eastern Europe begun in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama maintained that the defeat of Communism meant that there was only one triumphant political system left.

"What we may be witnessing," he wrote, "is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

In the early 21st century, after 9/11 and more recent events, his conclusions seem premature at best. ( Some even believe a new form of the Cold War is beginning.) But it was not this book that guided HSU's production of The End of History.  Most influential was The Darkness Crumbles: Despatches From the Barricades by BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson.

Simpson reported from Germany and eastern Europe as well as China in 1989.  (A series of his BBC reports revisiting 1989 are on the Internet.)

Both directors agree that this book was important to the final script.  Simpson's re-evaluations of events, reported optimistically but tempered by time, were especially valuable.

The End of History: The World in 1989

Just weeks ago, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated. The city of Berlin, once split in two and now a single city, marked the occasion with a symbolic wall of 8,000 glowing balloons. Press stories recounted events from political and personal perspectives, and examined their legacy.

A series of fast-moving events in 1989 culminated in the opening and then the destruction of the Berlin Wall which had separated the people of East Berlin and West Berlin for more than a generation.

But this was only one of the titanic events of 1989.  Though the production The End of History may not deal with them directly, here are some of the events of that year that continue to shape our world 25 years later:

The Polish United Workers party votes to legalize Solidarity, the dissident union headed by Lech Walesa.  Elections are held in June, Solidarity candidates triumph and by year's end, Poland leaves the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact.

The Velvet Revolution takes to the streets in Czechoslovakia, bringing down the Communist government.  Playwright and activist leader Vaclav Havel is elected president.

The Romanian Communist Party unanimously reelects President Ceausescu, protests erupt, the government is overthrown, Ceausescu and his wife are tried and executed.

Hungary proclaims a new constitution to create a multiparty democracy, and reorganizes as a republic on the 33rd anniversary of the Hungarian rebellion of 1956 that was crushed by Soviet tanks.

France celebrates the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

On October 1, civil unions for same sex couples became legal in Denmark, the first such law in the world.

The Exxon Valdez created the world's largest oil spill to that time when it ran aground in Alaska.  The effects (and litigation) continue today.

President Bush authorizes the allocation of $300 billion in federal funds to prevent the collapse of the savings and loan industry.

Young Chinese protesters gather in Tiananmen Square and erect The Goddess of Democracy.  After a period of tolerance, Chinese troops and tanks crush the rebellion, killing hundreds and perhaps thousands of protesters.

The Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

Hurricane Hugo devastated the Caribbean and South Carolina.

Terrorists in the Middle East hang an American hostage taken in 1986.

General Colin Powell becomes the first African American appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan, ending military occupation begun in 1979.

Five Central American countries agree that the U.S. backed "contras" attempting to bring down the government of Nicaragua should be disbanded.

The U.S. and Canada begin negotiations on an acid rain treaty. Twelve European countries agree to stop production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the 20th century.

The 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake hits the Bay Area during a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics.  It causes significant damage.

Douglas Wilder becomes the first African American elected as the governor of a U.S. state (Virginia.)

Lithuania becomes the first Soviet republic to abolish Communist control of the government.

Chile holds its first free elections in 16 years.

A number of events, some initiated by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989, would culminate in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite is placed in orbit.

The first Al-Qaeda cell in the US is reportedly formed in New York City.

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 2014: Coraline

Erin Harris as Coraline
Coraline, Neil Gaiman’s famous, wondrous, funny and scary tale of a modern Alice through the Looking Glass is a best-selling book and an animated film that children know and love. But as a fast-paced, unconventional musical, it’s mostly unknown outside a few big cities, and has never been done by a university—until now.

Explore the otherworldly in the everyday... HSU presents its production of the musical play Coraline in the Van Duzer Theatre for two weekends: Thursdays through Saturdays October 16-18 and 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday October 26 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12/17 general, $10/15 students and seniors from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Directed by Rae Robison, produced by HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance. Because of the scariness, it’s not recommended for children younger than nine.

Media: Eureka Times-Standard Urge, HSU Now
Reviews: Urge, North Coast Journal, Mad River Union
Erin Harris, Kyle Rispoli
Young Coraline has just moved into a new house. New to her anyway—“it’s old and ordinary/fifty miles from the next city/and dull as one house can be.”

 She lives on the second floor with her parents—above them is Mr. Bobo “a crazy old man” who says he’s training a mouse circus. Below them are two retired actresses lost in their memories of theatrical glory. There’s also a cat who ignores her.
Her parents don’t seem to have time for her (“Mum and Dad are not commuters/They stay home at their computers/Which means they have to work from nine to nine”), the other tenants can’t even get her name right, and Coraline is yearning for something different. So when a door that used to open onto a brick wall suddenly leads to another world, she’s ready to explore it.
Erin Harris, Anna Duchi, Mickey Thompson
This world seems to be the same as her own, except better. Her Other Mother and Other Father dote on her, feed her delicious food and allow her to dress as wildly as she wants. Although those black buttons on their eyes are strange.
Patrice Elise-Byrd, Erin Harris
The ladies downstairs have their own theatre—and best of all, the cat talks to her. "When you’re a cat you see it all, without detection; you’re good at that."
But it is not all that it seems, and as Coraline learns the truth she has to take action, not only to save herself but her real parents, and the souls of children who have been captured in this other world before her.
Even when she escapes, Coraline realizes her task isn’t over. She must face the evil Other Mother once more.

 How will she succeed? The ghost children advise her: “Be wise, be brave, be tricky.” 

 And her other old and new friends can help.

 But what is bravery? It’s returning to what scared you. “When you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
A fast, funny, scary and exciting ride ends happily. Coraline goes back to her ordinary life with a new attitude. 

You follow your long fairytale 
wherever it go
meandering through mazes
and dancing through snow 
You'll probably grow, little one,
 as big as a whale 
Amazing? Keep chasing your tale
 O! Follow your tale.


Coraline: Erin Harris
 Mother: Erin Henry
Other Mother: Anna Duchi
Father/Other Father: Mickey Thompson
Miss Spink (and Other Miss Forcible): Hanna Jo Clark
Miss Forcible (and Other Miss Spink): Jesse Chavez
Mr. Bobo/Other Mr. Bobo: Kyle Rispoli
 Cat: Patrice Elise-Byrd
 Other Characters & Ensemble: Bryce Luna, Hannah Jo Clark, Justine Bivans, Valerie Castillo Puppeteers: Dakota Dieter, Mary May, Hanah Toyoda

 Musicians: Brian Post, Charles Thompson

CORALINE: Our Production

Director: Rae Robison
Music Director: Tina Toomata
Scenic Design: Jared Sorenson
Costume Design: Marissa Menezes
 Makeup/Wig/Mask Design: Hanah Toyoda
 Lighting Design: Santiago Menjivar
 Sound Design: Charles Thompson
 Props Master: Elio Robles
 Production Manager: Derek Lane
 Technical Director: Jayson Mohatt
Master Electrician: Greta Stockwell
Stage Manager: JuanCarlos Contreras
Assistant Director: Ellen Martin
 Asst. Scenic Design: Darbie Nolke, Denise Truong, Sydnee Stanton
Asst. Lighting Design: Derek Burns
Asst. Puppet Design: Camille Borrowdale
Asst. Costume Design: Alexander Stearns
 Asst. Stage Manager: Makenna Baker, Stephanie Lemon
 Asst. Technical Director: Ian McBride
 Costume Shop Supervisor: Catherine Brown
Prop Shop Supervisor: Emma Lubin
Scene Shop Assistant: Meeka Day
Administrative Support: Debra Ryerson, Lorraine Dillon
Photography: Kellie Brown
Publicity/blog copy & design: Bill Kowinski

CORALINE: Our Director

As a 2002 book (and audio book), a 2009 stop-motion film (and video game) Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is already a modern classic, especially for parents and children who’ve grown up with the story in their childhood.

 “People who know the book or the movie will love the musical,” director Rae Robison believes. “The musical is more like the book. It has the same characters—the movie added others—and it has the same mood. The elements that have been expanded upon in the music are really book-driven. The movie is kind of Disney-dark rather than Brothers Grimm dark. The book and the musical are more closely related to the Brothers Grimm.”

 But those who don’t know Coraline in any of its forms are in for a special treat—of discovery. “Neil Gaiman really is a gem. He’s one of those rare writers that no matter what he comes out with, I’m going to buy it.”

 “The things he comes up with are so original. He’s dark but he’s also very funny. Parts of this show are hilarious. There are scary moments but there’s also a lot of humor and a lot of fun.”

 “I love this show because it doesn’t matter how old you are. Coraline is a children’s story but it’s about what it means to be brave, and that’s for everybody.”

Parental Advisory

 “There’s nothing inappropriate in the show but some of it might be too scary for young children. Some nine year-olds would be fine, but maybe not others. The Other Mother gets to be a scary character. She starts out looking like the perfect June Cleaver and gradually evolves into this hideous monster, and that can be pretty scary. All we’ve done is reveal who she really is.”

 But it’s not scary just to be scary. The story has positive messages, and Coraline is a kind of role model. “She’s a very determined little kid, and very funny.”

The Music

Prepared piano, using rubber erasers, playing cards
slivers of wood, etc. to create particular effects 
As a musical, Coraline is different in several ways, from composer Stephin Merritt’s experimental style to the unique instrumentation that’s required.

 “We have six toy pianos that accompany quite a few of the songs. Toy pianos have an odd sound to them—that merry-go-round, circusy feel. There’s nothing more childlike that these toy pianos—childlike, and creepy.”

 There are also two normal-sized piano, but one of them is “prepared.” “We received a sheet of instructions, apparently from Stephin Merritt, on how to modify a piano to create effects when certain keys were played—like the sound of wind or rain, or animal noises.”

 The HSU Production

 “This is a fast-paced, short show—I’m aiming for an hour and twenty minutes. It’s a one act, played without intermission, because there’s no good place to stop once this train gets going.”

"We're proud to be the first university to do this show. I have a great cast. It’s a real ensemble—everybody but the actors who play Coraline and the Other Mother play more than one role. Even when they’re not on stage they’re singing. It takes everyone working together. We’ve got several freshmen, some new majors, a couple of graduating seniors—it’s a nice mix, a really tight little company."

"I have student designers in all the areas. We have large-scale puppets, shadow puppets, masks—everything we can do to tell the story. We’re basically following Coraline around—we see what she sees. So we always ask ourselves, how would a kid see this."

  The set is meant to keep the action continuous rather than build a complete world.
 “Our set is very place inspecific—we do a lot of interpretation by lighting. Kids don’t need to see the castle walls to imagine they are climbing a tower. Kids use their imagination and that’s what we’re suggesting.”

 More About Gaiman 

 “I spent all last summer reading and listening to his books like Neverwhere, American Gods and The Graveyard Book—I think he’s just amazing. I love to listen to the audiobooks because he generally narrates, and he has this delicious delivery that’s so colorful. I gave the audiobook of Coraline to the whole cast because listening to him reading the entire story really imparts those characters.”

CORALINE: The Creators

Stephin Merritt (composer, lyricist) is the principal singer and songwriter for the American indie pop group The Magnetic Fields. Among his other compositions is a song for the film Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. He produced the score for the silent film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea performed at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2010.

 For Coraline, Merritt specifies ways in which one of the pianos is altered, or “prepared” (the word John Cage used when he invented this technique.) The modifications involve placing various devices—including screws, rubber erasers, playing cards, pipe cleaners and sleigh bells—between the strings to change the pitch and timbre when the corresponding piano key is struck.

 The effect, according to Merritt, is to make each key sound like a small percussion instrument. “Like Gaiman’s book, Merritt’s instrumentation draws on both the everyday and the otherworldly,” writes the Village Voice. “The auditory result is uncanny, lending even the simplest tune the feeling of an eldritch [weird and sinister] lullaby.”

David Greenspan (book for the musical) is an award-winning downtown New York actor and playwright who Tony Kushner called “probably all-round the most talented theatre artist of my generation.”

 “My first experience of the theater was as a listener.” he told the New York Times, describing a childhood of listening to his father’s home recordings of Broadway musicals off the radio, and imagining what the plays were about and what they looked like only from the songs.

Greenspan often performs in his own plays, including the original production of Coraline, in which he played Other Mother.

Neil Gaiman (book author) is a British writer (now living in the US) who works in many styles and media. He first became famous with his comic series Sandman and while he continued to write comics he also published novels and short stories, wrote for theatre, radio, movies and television, including episodes of Doctor Who. He's a presence on the Internet, including a long-running blog.

  Even his works within a single form are either genre-breaking, genre-making or genre-defying. He described his novel Anansi Boys as “magical-horror-thriller-ghost-romantic-comedy-family-epic.”

 He’s written picture books for children as well as children’s novels such as Coraline. “Prolific” seems a modest description of his output.

 For all its contemporary edginess and fairy tale horror, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline falls easily within the specifically British tradition of children’s stories. Its situation recalls Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and even C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but as the story of an adventurous child in a seemingly ordinary middle class house and family, it harks back to E. Nesbit in the late 19th century, and such contemporary variations as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

 With its magic stone and helpful figures, it has strong roots in folk tales and hero myths. Coraline combines the grimness of the Brothers Grimm and their undiluted tales with the upbeat imagination and humor of one of Gaiman’s own heroes, Douglas Adams.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 2014: HER OWN WAY

Greta, Glenys and Danny Stockwell
The first play ever produced by Humboldt State one hundred years ago is presented again, this time as a radio-style dramatization.

 Greta Stockwell plays the resolute heroine, while Danny Stockwell is the man she loves, and Calder Johnson is the ruthless businessman who comes between them in the Broadway hit, Her Own Way. 

 Other characters in the cast of 15 are portrayed by HSU Theatre, Film & Dance department faculty and staff, plus special guests (including young Glenys Stockwell.) 

 Scheduled for Homecoming Weekend, it is a celebration of theatre at HSU for alumni and past participants as well as today's HSU. 

 Her Own Way is performed on Friday October 3 at 7:30 p.m (with reception afterwards) and Saturday October 4 at 2 p.m. in the Van Duzer Theatre. Tickets are $5, students admitted free, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. 

Media: cover story in Urge, Eureka Times-Standard arts magazine; Mad River Union, HSU Now, North Coast Journal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Susan Abbey, James McHugh
Just seven months after Humboldt State began classes in 1914, Her Own Way was produced with a student cast at the brand new Minor Theatre in Arcata. 

 Derek Lane, who is coordinating the event with fellow faculty member Susan Abbey, notes that this will not be a full production as in 1914, though there will be some costumes and scenery. “We’re doing it on stage but as a radio show, complete with period commercials and jingles.”
Her Own Way is by Clyde Fitch, one of the most successful playwrights of early Broadway. “He was known for writing strong central roles for women,” Lane said. “Georgiana, the heroine in this play, exhibits great independence and integrity.” 

 Set in a well-to-do New York City household, the play involves subjects that are still relevant, such as stock market speculation and a controversial war—as well as the troubled course of true love.
Though it was a Broadway hit in 1903, today’s audiences might appreciate a shorter version, Lane suggested. “We’re aiming for about 90 minutes, with intermission." 

"We want this to be a celebration of theatre at HSU. It’s Homecoming Weekend, so we want to include alumni and former members of our department, as well as current faculty and staff and their families.” 

 Both Friday and Saturday’s radio-style dramatizations will be live-streamed on the Internet at  


Georgiana: Greta Stockwell
Lt. Richard Coleman: Danny Stockwell
Sam Coast: Calder Johnson
Steven Carley: JM Wilkerson
Mrs. Carley: Bernadette Cheyne
Philip: Bryan Kashon
Christopher: Dylan Wilkerson
Toots: Glenys Stockwell
Elaine: Melissa Smith
Miss Bella Shindle: Nadia Adame
Moles: Michael Thomas
Footman: James McHugh
Narrators: Susan Abbey, James McHugh
The Announcer: Mark Swetz
Commercials & Jingles: Rae Robison, Susan Abbey

HER OWN WAY: Our Production

Co-Conductors: Derek Lane, Susan Abbey
Production Stage Manager: Ellen Martin
Scenic Design & Execution: Derek Lane and TA 137 Class
Lighting Design: Brodie Storey
Costume Coordinator: Jenn White
Sound Design: Christopher Joe
Sound Board Operator: Jeanne Fashauer
Projections Design: CJ Thompson

Administrative Support: Debra Ryerson, Lorraine Dillon
Photography: Kellie Brown
Publicity/blog copy & design: Bill Kowinski

HER OWN WAY: The Original Humboldt Production

Humboldt State Normal School held its first classes in April 1914. By May, 63 women and 15 men were learning to be teachers.

 According to the history compiled by former Theatre Arts chair John F. Pauley, the first rehearsals of Her Own Way began shortly after. That fall the show was announced as a benefit for the local chapter of the Belgium Relief Fund (see "The World in 1914" post below.)

Six women students and three children from the Normal Training School were in the cast. So were five men, which constituted a third of the initial male enrollment.

The production was staged on Tuesday evening, December 8, 1914 at the Minor Theatre in Arcata, which itself had just opened for the first time on the previous Thursday night (December 3). Though the Minor was designed to show movies (and is famous as the oldest currently operating movie house in the US), it has mostly been forgotten that it also hosted many stage productions, including some 40 locally produced shows in its first decade.

 So Her Own Way was not only the first Humboldt State produced play—it was the first play to be done on the Minor Theatre stage. Today, plans are underway to bring this HSU radio-style reading to the Minor on the actual anniversary date of December 8, 2014.

 In 1914 Arcata had a population of only 1,200, and it would be a decade before a decent road connecting it to Eureka was built. But just as the Minor Theatre had no trouble filling its 524 seats for silent pictures, Her Own Way also had a “standing room only” audience.

 Humboldt State continued to produce shows at the Minor Theatre (including HMS Pinafore in 1915.) When Founders Hall and its theatre were built in 1922, Humboldt State stage shows at last had their own home—though HSU productions often toured around Humboldt County through the 1950s.

HER OWN WAY: The Playwright

Many histories of Broadway theatre begin in the 1920s. But there was never more theatrical activity along the Great White Way than in the two decades before that. At the turn of the 20th century there were between 40 and 50 theatres producing plays in Manhattan—more theatres than London or Paris or any other city in the world.

 During the theatre season, from three to ten shows might open on a single night.  After a Broadway run, some 400 touring and stock companies took the show to theatres across the US.

One of the first great figures of early Broadway was the playwright Clyde Fitch. New York theatre was dominated by European playwrights when Fitch arrived in a time of political reform, social change and artistic energy.

 In a relatively short career—about a decade—he wrote 33 original plays (or perhaps 36) plus 22 to 26 adaptations and dramatizations. Rarely was there was season between 1900 and 1909 in which fewer than two or three new Fitch plays were running on Broadway. In 1900-01 there were four. A later year, five.

 Once when two of his plays opened on the same night, he dashed from making a curtain call speech in one theatre to make another curtain call speech in a theatre across the street.

 Fitch also directed and supervised the design of many of his plays. All this activity made him wealthy—he may well have been the first American playwright to become a millionaire. He was also the first American playwright to also be successful on European stages. He spent part of the year in Europe, traveling and supervising productions.

He wrote plays everywhere—on ocean liners, in touring cars, and was said to have written one of his most famous—The Truth—in a gondola in Venice. His play Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines made Ethel Barrymore a star, and provided the Broadway debut of her younger brother, John Barrymore. Versions of the Fitch play Beau Brummel were made into motion pictures.

 Though highly commercial, his plays could push boundaries. His adaptation of Sapho caused scandal and police raids for suggesting that characters engaged in off-stage sex. His last play (The City) brought new realism (and realistic language) to the stage.

 He excelled in writing about women. They could be strong and principled or (as inThe Climbers) they might be gradually exposed as superficial and craven. He wrote plays set in drawing rooms of the wealthy, in elegant hotels and an ocean liner, but also in a crowded tenement where three young women struggle to make it in New York, in The Girls.

 “Clyde Fitch was a charming, modest man whose many letters to his many friends preserve the loyalty and generosity of a gentleman,” wrote critic and theatre historian Brooks Atkinson.

 Fitch was known as a stylish dresser, and he lived and entertained in high style. He was one of the most famous men in New York. According to Atkinson, “he was so busy that people had to make an appointment twenty-four hours in advance to talk to him on the telephone.”

 Though Fitch is mostly forgotten now, his memory is being revived in and Internet site called the Clyde Fitch Report.  According to the site's biography of Fitch, "the voluminous accounts of Fitch’s life and work rarely confront the man’s sexuality, yet he stood at the center of an energetic and colorful coterie of gay- and gay-friendly friends and colleagues."

Fitch died in 1909 at the age of 44, as the result of an emergency appendectomy (surgery with a high rate of mortality at the time.)

 After Fitch’s death a critic of the day praised him for making American themes respectable, not only in Europe but in the previously European-dominated Manhattan theatre. Fitch was credited with raising standards for design and staging, and the cultural level of theatre in general. He called Fitch the first modern American playwright.