Oregon Children’s Theatre (OCT) celebrates the life and legacy of their longtime artistic director, Stan Foote, who died surrounded by loved ones in his most recent home of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on May 18, 2022. He was 69 years old.
Stan, a beloved Portland theatre figure who played a key role in building Oregon Children’s Theatre into a nationally recognized company, retired from the organization in 2019 after serving their for 28 years. Aside from being a brilliant director and educator, Stan is most known for his sense of humor and warm heart, and as a consummate friend who believed deeply in elevating the voices and talents of young people.
During his tenure at OCT, he directed nearly 50 plays and guided OCT through 20 world-premiere productions, including highly acclaimed collaborations with leading children’s authors such as Lois Lowry (The Giver, Gossamer) and Louis Sachar (Holes), as well as prominent playwrights and adapters such as Eric Coble (The Storm in the Barn, Sacagawea, The Giver). He co-commissioned plays with companies across the country, firmly establishing OCT as a significant player nationally, and contributing to the repertoire of plays for young audiences. Coble’s adaptation of Lowry’s The Giver has had more than 300 productions in the U.S. and internationally. Stan was honored with the national Harold Oaks Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences, as well as multiple Drammy Awards (Portland’s top honor for excellence in theatre), including a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Stan was a dear friend and mentor for 17 years,” said Marcella Crowson, current OCT artistic director and longtime friend. “His contribution to the theatre community is incalculable. So many theatre artists, technicians, educators, and more can trace their path back to Stan Foote’s inspiration and encouragement. Stan had a passion for making great theatre, but more important, he was invested in supporting the growth of great human beings, whether they were adults or young people. I am a better director, artist, friend, and person for having known him.”
Stan contributed much of his time and talents to philanthropy, championing the causes he was passionate about. He served on the board of directors for Theatre for Young Audiences/USA and could often be found painting and creating art; volunteering at shelters in Puerto Vallarta; teaching classes at Friends of the Children, Saint Mary’s Home for Boys, and the Boys and Girls Clubs; and mentoring the young artists in OCT’s award-winning Young Professionals Company. Stan also put his directing talents to work for charitable causes, including The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, benefiting Basic Rights Oregon and the Matthew Shepard Fund; and Falsettos in Concert, benefiting Our House.
On Aug. 29, 2019, the City of Portland officially declared “Stan Foote Day” in honor of Stan’s birthday. Said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, “For a man who’s devoted his career to creating first-rate theatre for young people, this amounts to an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime review: a kind of standing ovation from an entire city.” In this same spirit, there will be a celebration of Stan’s life and legacy on Aug. 29, 2022, on what would have been his 70th birthday, at the Delores Winningstad Theatre in downtown Portland.
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