Claude Purdy passes at 69 — Claude Purdy — AAPEX

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Claude Purdy passes at 69

Claude Purdy

Stormi Greener, Star Tribune

Claude Purdy, the influential director and co-founder of Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, died in Washington. D.C., on Monday after feeling ill. He was 69. His death was confirmed by officials at Penumbra, who had spoken with members of the director's family.

"Claude was a fantastic director with a deep well of understandingof black culture, aesthetics and spirituality, " said veteran Penumbra actor James Craven, who worked with Purdy over the last three decades.

"He knew every texture, thread and fabric of the culture and he was able to put that onstage, light it and enlighten us. People talk about Lloyd Richards and other great directors. I would put Claude at the head of that pantheon."
Purdy, who directed August Wilson's "Fences" at the Guthrie Theater in 1997, spent 10 years at Penumbra in the 1980s.

"He had a very visual approach to the stage, like a painter with acanvas," said actor-director Abdul Salaam El Razzac, who credits Purdy with being instrumental in his career. "He could see figures coming to life, and he did it brilliantly."

In 1978, Purdy convinced his friend August Wilson to move from Pittsburgh to St. Paul and to write plays instead of poems. Purdy became an expert interpreter of Wilson's works, and staged them across the nation. He also became a mentor and career guide to a raft of actors.

Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390

Source: Terrence Spivey
Artistic Director
Karamu House
2355 East 89th
Cleveland, OH 44106
Phone: 216-795-7070

1 comment: