Caricature of Glenn Loney  by Sam Norkin
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin

Remembering Glenn Loney

Theatre critic, professor, and photo archivist Glenn Loney passed away on April 16, 2018 at the age of 89. He would have been 90 next Christmas Eve.

I must have met Glenn Loney in about 1979, when I started working as the publicity director at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. He was a voracious theatre critic, and saw everything he possibly could. At the same time, I was getting my Masters Degree in Theatre Management/Arts Administration at Brooklyn College, and there he was again. Dr. Loney (faculty bio)— he had earned his PhD in Theatre-History & Dramatic Literature at Stanford University—taught two different classes I took: theatre criticism and regional theatre. For the first, we all had to assume the mantle of an active theatre critic and write a few reviews in that person’s style. I delighted in “being” John Simon. The second class featured guest speakers from various regional and LORT companies, telling wonderful tales about producing theatre in a wide range of circumstances. I remember something about rose bushes at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival…

But our paths kept crossing. In the summer of 1983, I went to the Avignon Theatre Festival for the first time, and the highlight of my trip was seeing Pina Bausch’s breathtaking Nelken in the Honor Court at the Palace Of The Popes. A remarkable experience in many ways, but while I was in France, my friend Pat MacKay, publisher and editorial director of Theatre Crafts Magazine, asked me to write some freelance pieces about French theatre or French designers for her. I think my first article was in Theatre Crafts in 1983.

My summer in Avignon led to my living in France for a while, and traveling around Europe quite a bit, giving me a great perspective to understand where and what Glenn Loney was seeing and writing about. When I was in the magazine offices in New York, he would come by with a briefcase, or perhaps it was a backpack, full of photographs and typed manuscripts. And we would go over everything he had seen the summer before, shaping his commentary in Theatre Crafts-style articles.

Pat MacKay always said he was her oldest contributing writer, in terms of longevity, and I suspect in terms of age. He brought us endless articles about designers (a few are posted at LiveDesignOnline), and photographs it most likely would have been impossible to obtain in those days before faxes, emails, Google images, and Dropbox—from Bayreuth to Bregenz to name just two of his favorite summer festivals. Those of us who knew him, edited him, learned from him, owe him a debt. His knowledge was profound and his love for the theatre and opera insatiable. Rest in peace, Dr. Loney. And thanks for the memories.

Glenn Loney is remembered in American Theatre: Glenn Meredith Loney (1928-2018).

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