American theater fans were left in mourning this week after legendary figure Robert Brustein passed away.
According to The New York Times, Brustein died on Sunday at the age of 96 in his Cambridge, Massachusetts's home.
A longtime theater critic and dramatist, Brustein once served as dean of Yale's drama school. He went on to found the Yale Repertory Theater and the American Repertory Theater at Harvard.
In 2011, then-President Barack Obama honored Brustein's legacy by awarding him the National Medal of Arts in a White House ceremony.
The Times noted that Brustein authored multiple books and his theater reviews were published by The New Republic for over five decades.
He was also known as a fierce proponent of nonprofit theaters, telling the Times in a 1990 interview, "The basic aim of the commercial theater is to make a profit."
"The basic aim of noncommercial theater, in its ideal form, is to create the condition whereby works of art can be known. And I don’t think these are compatible aims," Brustein added.
Boston's WBUR noted that Brustein is remembered fondly by many, such as British-born American actor John Douglas Thompson.
"He developed one of the best repertory companies in the country and the fact that I got to be a part of it was a special moment for me — that elite level of artistry that he dropped me in the middle of as if to say ‘You belong here, you belong in this group of artists,'" Thompson recalled.
"And he let me develop as a leading man. Bob really started that for me, giving me opportunities that I was ready for and thirsty for," the actor stressed.
Tributes to Brustein quickly appeared on social media, including from the magazine American Theater, which praised his "uniquely outsized influence as an arts leader, educator, and critic."
With the passing of Robert Brustein, the American theatre feels a threefold loss, considering his uniquely outsized influence as an arts leader, educator, and critic. As such he was both a frequent subject and contributor to our magazine. 1/3 https://t.co/JN5AEZjqcK pic.twitter.com/iSiw4VHTXU
— American Theatre (@AmericanTheatre) October 29, 2023
The account Clear Shakespeare spoke up as well, calling Brustein "an absolute titan of American theater, from his essential criticism to his founding of the Yale Rep and ART."
Robert Brustein died this morning. An absolute titan of American theater, from his essential criticism to his founding of the Yale Rep and ART. He was my teacher, and encouraged me at an important time. Not without controversy and difficulty, but he made us who we are.
— Clear Shakespeare (@ClearShakes) October 29, 2023