Monday, February 14, 2011

The Loss of Nameless Things: Tad Hall

Some of you knew Tad Hall; more than a few have heard Rebel Girl speak about her friend, the son of her teacher Oakley Hall, the brother of Reb's best friend Brett. Over the weekend, word came that he had died.

Here's some words:
Oakley Hall III, “Tad,” died of a heart attack this past weekend. He was 60 years old.

Oakley Hall III, eldest son of the late novelist Oakley Hall, was a playwright, director, and author. In the mid-70s, when he was a rising star in the New York theatre scene, his play Mike Fink was optioned by Joseph Papp of the Public Theatre. He founded and was the Artistic Director of the legendary Lexington Conservatory Theatre, in upstate New York, where his plays Grinder’s Stand and Beatrice and the Old Man, and his adaptation of Frankenstein enjoyed their premiere productions. Lexington Conservatory Theatre moved to Albany in 1979 and continues today as Albany Rep.

In 1978, Oakley suffered traumatic and massive head injuries in a fall from a bridge. He eventually returned to California to live in Nevada City near his family; his play Grinder’s Stand was produced by the Foothill Theatre Company, directed by Philip Sneed. The story of this production, entwined with Oakley’s fall and the slow process of creating a new life, are movingly told in Bill Rose’s award-winning documentary, The Loss of Nameless Things. (posted below)

Oakley made a life-long study of the surrealist playwright, Alfred Jarry, and over the years translated several of his plays from the original French. In 2008, Hall moved to Albany, New York, to live with Hadiya Wilborn, who helped set in motion a collaboration with acclaimed puppeteer Ed Atkeson. This resulted in a production of one of those translated plays, Ubu Roi, at an Albany theater, Steamer 10, directed by Oakley, with Steven Patterson in the title role.

In the fall of 2010, Moving Finger Press published Oakley’s novel, Jarry and Me, in which Oakley intertwines a memoir of his own life with a sly “autobiography” of Jarry. One of the last sentences of the book is, “Jarry dies with a grin on his face.” We are told that Oakley too had a grin on his face, at the end. As Oakley would say: “Merdre.”


If you want to read a Valentine's Day poem, visit Rebel Girl's The Mark on the Wall.


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