Monday, July 8, 2013

Easton Actor Dudley Knight Passes Away in California

Dudley Knight, noted Shakespearean actor,
professor emeritus of UC Irvine,
and voice and diction innovator, passed
away suddenly in California on June 27.

Dudley Knight, noted for numerous Shakespearean roles and for his approach to teaching diction to budding actors as a professor at UC Irvine, passed away suddenly on June 27 just prior to portraying King Lear in the infamous classic tragedy.

According to reports, Knight, 73, had just attended a meet-and-greet get-together at the college with fellow cast members on June 25, prior to beginning rehearsal for an outdoor summer festival production of the Shakesperean play. He suffered a massive heart attack while walking back to his condominium near the campus, but never regained consciousness.

A professor emeritus at UC Irvine, Knight challenged traditional approaches to diction for actors and developed an alternative method, which favored teaching students to speak clearly while retaining their own speech patterns. He noted that in a multicultural society, insisting that all actors adopt an upper-class white pattern of speech is inappropriate and outdated.

"He took the elitism out of voice training while maintaining the rigor, which is a neat trick, and he merged scientific rigor with playfulness," fellow UC Irvine drama professor and instruction partner Philip Thompson told the LA Times.

Knight lived in Downtown Easton for the past decade with his wife Marta Whistler, who is an internationally noted artist. The couple was often seen Downtown walking their two miniature Pinschers. The pair moved to the city after Knight's retirement, noting its proximity to New York City and accessibility to major airports, which made travelling for their respective careers, both of which have spanned the globe, easy.

He is also survived by a brother, Charles Knight, and three stepdaughters, Maya Cisco of Dallas, Texas, Drava Milivojevic of Norman, Oklahoma, and Sava Zwick of Dallas, Texas, according to his obituary.

A commemoration of Dudley Knight's life and career is planned in Irvine CA on August 24, and the August 2 to 30 run of "King Lear" will be staged as a tribute to Knight, the New Swan Shakespeare Festival has announced.

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