Alan Schneider (December 12, 1917 – May 3, 1984) was an American theatre director and mentor responsible for more than 100 theatre productions. In 1984 he was honored with a Drama Desk Special Award for serving a wide range of playwrights. He directed the 1956 American premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Edward Albee's Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Tiny Alice; the American première of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane, Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, as well as Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, The Collection, and a trilogy of Pinter's plays under the title Other Places (including One for the Road, Family Voices, and A Kind of Alaska); Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle; You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running; and Michael Weller's Moonchildren and Loose Ends.
Mr. Schneider also directed Samuel Beckett's only direct foray into the world of film, entitled "Film (film)" The short subject starred Buster Keaton and its direction is often mis-attributed to Samuel Beckett himself, notably during an exhibit at the Louvre in November 2006. "Film (film)" is silent and based around Bishop Berkeley's principle 'esse est percipi' (to be is to be perceived).
One of a select group of non-actors awarded membership in The Actors Studio, Schneider taught at Catholic University, City College of the City University of New York, The Juilliard School (where he was founding Dean of the theatre program), the University of California, Riverside, and the University of California, San Diego, whose library maintains an archive of his papers. He was associated with Arena Stage for 30 years. He was also the co-artistic director of The Acting Company. At the time of his death, he served as president of the board of directors for Theatre Communications Group (TCG).
During his lifetime, Schneider was a leading director of Samuel Beckett's plays, and there was a Beckettian element in Schneider's death. While in London, Schneider attempted to cross a street in order to mail a letter to Beckett's address in Paris. Stepping off the pavement, the (Russian-born) American director looked to the left for oncoming traffic ... momentarily forgetting that motor vehicles in Britain travel on the left side of the road. He was struck and killed by an oncoming motorcycle. When Beckett learned the circumstances of Schneider's death, he expressed hope that Schneider might have been intending to mail letters to several recipients rather than having stepped into the street solely for Beckett's sake. At the time of his accidental death, Scheider was taking a break from directing Other Places, a trilogy of plays by Harold Pinter, which was reaching the end of its run in New York City, where the theatre lobby featured his obituary in its last week of performances.
Following his death, the Alan Schneider Memorial Fund was established by TCG, The Acting Company, and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Proceeds from the Fund go to the Alan Schneider Director Award, which provides national visibility to the recipient as well as a grant to support activities specifically tied to the development of the craft of directing. Recipients of the Alan Schneider Director Award include: Mark Brokaw, Peter C. Brosius, Bart DeLorenzo, Kyle Donnelly, Michael John Garcés, Henry Godinez, Anne Kauffman, Nancy Keystone, Roberta Levitow, Charles Newell, Roman Paska, Mary B. Robinson, David Saint, Joel Sass and Darko Tresnjak.
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“People must not do things for fun. We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any act of Parliament.”
—A.P. (Sir Alan Patrick)