There’s a big hole in our hearts – all of us who work in theater for young audiences and theater education in the USA, as we learned of the unexpected passing of Scot Copeland last month.
Scot was the longtime artistic director of Nashville Children’s Theatre, former president of TYA/USA, and was a major architect in the growth of our field. He was larger than life, filled with humor and sarcasm and love for his colleagues, and, most importantly, for the children and young people our work serves. He was outspoken, snarky, gracious, and modest, and along with being a director, many don’t know what a terrific playwright he was.
So many of us owe so much to Scot for his insight, intelligence, generosity, and great good spirit. It was under Scot’s leadership that TYA/USA (then ASSITEJ-USA) and the Kennedy Center produced New Visions 2000: One Theatre World, arguably the most important gathering of our field in the US in a generation.
He will be missed, and many of us will be comforted to know that, wherever he is, he is still creating joy and mischief in his own delightful pirate-king way.
On a personal note, Scot was a much loved friend and trusted colleague for decades, so I’m a bit numb, but I should mention to my international pals that it was he who charmed me onto the TYA/USA board and shepherded my nomination as US representative to ASSITEJ, which changed my life and allowed me to interact with so many committed colleagues all over the world.
To honor Scot Copeland, there are no better words than from Nashville Children’s Theatre’s Education Director Alicia Lark Fuss: “For those who ask what else they can do to honor Scot, we have a simple request. Believe in magic, and dragons, and mythic heroes’ journeys. Believe in the giddy anticipation of house lights coming down at the start of a show, in good conversations over strong coffee, and believe in the incredible minds and hearts of the young people he strived to serve every day.”