In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Keith Fowler

With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Keith Fowler from the UC Irvine Claire Trevor School of the Arts Department of Drama. On the evening of Dec. 30, 2023, we lost an esteemed educator and a visionary leader who left an indelible mark on the world of theatre; he was 84.

Keith Fowler, former Head of Directing at UCI, was a luminary in his field, earning the love and admiration of his students throughout his celebrated career. A classically trained actor, Fowler made his professional debut at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1958 and 1960, setting the stage for a life dedicated to the pursuit of theatrical excellence.

Fowler's academic journey included a Fulbright Scholarship at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, a Wilson Fellowship, and a Shubert Scholarship at Yale, where he also studied under the legendary Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio in New York. With a wealth of experience, he shared his knowledge at Williams College, the University of Virginia, and the College of William & Mary, serving as the head of directing at Yale before joining UCI.

Throughout his career, Fowler directed U.S. and world premieres, leaving an indelible mark on the world of theatre. As the artistic director of two LORT companies, the Virginia Museum Theatre and the American Revels Company, Fowler showcased his unparalleled talent and dedication to the craft. The New York Times lauded his direction of Macbeth, starring E.G. Marshall, as "the Fowler Macbeth . . . forcefully immediate, a splendidly vigorous production."

At UCI, Professor Fowler built one of the nation's premier stage direction programs, fostering the growth of countless students who would go on to achieve international success as directors and educators. His legacy lives on through the alumni who continue to make significant contributions to the world of theatre.

Under Fowler's guidance, the Department of Drama at UCI produced a repertoire of acclaimed works, including Büchner's Woyzeck (in Fowler's own translation), Müller's Hamletmachine, Stoppard's Arcadia and The Real Thing, Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, Chekhov's Three Sisters, and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.

From 1996 to 2004, Fowler also served as the founding director of ArtsBridge, the model arts education and outreach program established at UCI and adopted by the State of California as the arts outreach program for all nine UC campuses. During its height as ArtsBridge America, the program expanded to more than fifteen universities nationwide.

Professor Fowler's passion for the art of theatre, coupled with his dedication to nurturing the next generation of directors, has left an indelible imprint on the landscape of performing arts education. His influence will be remembered, cherished, and perpetuated through the many lives he touched.

Professor Keith Fowler is survived by his wife Janice Byrd Fowler, his son Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder and his wife Karen, his son Matthew Fowler, and his children Ash, Gretel, and Chloe. He is also survived by his stepson Ed Glaser and wife Meagan, Nephew Jason Selli, Niece Kendra Crame, and Niece Jacqueline Fowler-Miller, along with their respective families. Additionally, Keith has a surviving older half-brother, Gordon Pape, whom he only recently discovered through genetic testing.

In honoring his memory, we express our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and the countless students whose lives he enriched. May his legacy continue to inspire and resonate in the hearts of those fortunate enough to be touched by his wisdom.

If you would like to leave a condolence message for the family, please visit the memorial website here.