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Buffalo State College Professor Emeritus Donald Savage Passes Away

Posted: October 14, 2005
Don Savage, the Buffalo State College professor who mentored countless students who went on to careers in the performing arts, passed away peacefully last night in his sleep. A ceremony the college had slated for tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 15) at 4:30 p.m. to rename its Theater Arts Building the Donald Savage Theater and Communication Building in his honor will take place as planned to dedicate the building and celebrate his life and legacy.

Born in South Dakota, Savage moved to Minnesota where he grew up and received his early education. He entered Hamline University in St. Paul, at age 16. At age 17, he was cast as the Devil in the American premier of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale,” under the direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos. Also that year, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving for the next two years. Following the end of World War II, Savage returned to Hamline University and completed his undergraduate degree. He earned his M.A. from the University of Minnesota.

When he was 25, he went to Turkey to teach English and direct plays at Tarsus American College. With a cast of Turkish youths and a budget of $6, his production of “Julius Caesar” played to a packed house of non-English speaking patrons who wept at Caesar’s death and cheered the defeat of Brutus and Cassius.

Following his experience in Turkey, he returned to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. In 1963, Savage joined the faculty of Buffalo State College, teaching a variety of courses including acting, playwriting, directing and theater history. He directed numerous productions at the college, including Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Moli?re’s “The Misanthrope,” as well as such contemporary works as Eug?ne Ionesco’s “Exit the King” and Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam.” One of the highlights of Savage’s Buffalo State College career was directing student actors Donald Reilly and Kathleen Gaffney in Yevgeny Schwartz’s “The Dragon,” which toured the state after winning first place in a State University of New York competition. Savage also spearheaded the college’s Milton Festival and directed the campus production of “Comus” in 1984.

Savage retired from Buffalo State in 1987, but continued his support of its theater program and remained active in the Western New York theater community.
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