Thurman E. Scott
Artistic Director, Executive Producer and Founder
THURMAN E. SCOTT is an award winning actor, director, writer and teacher of acting and creative process. His extensive work on the stage includes a wide range of roles in over 50 classical and contemporary plays, including six seasons with the New York Shakespeare Festival; a special performance for the Moscow Art Theatre as Thomas Becket in Becket; an Obie Award winning performance in Open 24 Hours; the lead in the national tour of Lorraine Hansberry's To Be Young, Gifted, and Black; the lead in the national tour of Athol Fugard's The Blood Knot; Tatum in The Bridgehead at Actors Theatre of Louisville; the psychiatrist in Getting Out, a role he originated for the Actors Theatre of Louisville; and Caliban in Baltimore's Center Stage The Tempest, for which he received a Best Actor Award.
As a stage director, Mr. Scott received a Best Director Award from the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers for Soldiers of Freedom. He has served as the Artistic Director of the National Black Theater, is a founding member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, an acting/directing member of the American Renaissance Theater, and a member of the Actors Studio. Mr. Scott's film acting credits include The Incident, Across 110th Street, Voices, Firepower, Three Tough Guys, and The Paper Lion. His television roles include the CBS special "Frederick Douglas", "N.Y.P.D.", the original cast of "One Life to Live", "The Doctors" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing".
Mr. Scott had a strong influence in developing the Dino Delaurentis Studio in America, and was central in initiating Mr. Delaurentis' shift in strategy from producing a small number of big budget films to producing a greater number of lower budget films. Mr. Scott was a major creative force in developing over twenty feature films for Dino Delaurentis Studios, including Serpico, Mandingo, Drum, and Prince of the City. He was Associate Producer on the film The Rising Sun, which depicted the struggle of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta leading the fight for African independence.
Building on his success as an actor, director, and producer, Mr. Scott turned his primary focus to developing new, and unique creative forms. He began by developing and teaching creative techniques to members of the incarcerated population in Attica, the Tombs, Rikers Island, the Women's State Prison, and the ward for the criminally insane at Bellvue. Through his work with these members of society held in the bowels of our nation's prisons, he discovered that the imagination flourishes in isolation. With these insights, he developed new techniques to liberate and train the imagination that added a whole new dimension of human reality and investigation to the American and European theatrical disciplines.
Upon this powerful foundation Mr. Scott built his theatre company. His goal was to create a company of artists he would train in his original creative technique so that they could write and perform their own, original work. He founded his theatre company twenty years ago, and in 1990, incorporated The Actors Theatre Workshop as a non-profit theatre company with a conservatory, performance space and community center at 145 West 28th Street in New York City.
Mr. Scott's concept and philosophy of theatre comes out of the tradition of his mentors in the Group Theatre that theatre must play a meaningful and active role in the life of the community. The Actors Theatre Workshop provides theatre and writing programs, training and performance opportunities to the broadest possible cross section of our community - homeless children, the prison population, the elderly, the artistic community, and members of the business community. One of the most exciting programs The Actors Theatre Workshop offers is the award-winning Builders of the New World Program which Mr. Scott created for children living in homeless shelters in which he teaches the children how to open their imaginations, participate in the democratic process, and strengthen their spiritual and creative foundation so they can become contributing members of our society.
At The Actors Theatre Workshop, Mr. Scott has directed and developed a number of original plays, including the American Premiere of Mary Stuart by Dacia Maraini, and The Love Letter by Janet Marie Scott. The Love Letter is an extraordinary one-woman play that brings an 18th century French painting to life and reveals the complexities and spiritual journey of a marquise facing the French revolution. It was written in a unique script development process which Mr. Scott has created and currently teaches in the Scott Conservatory at The Actors Theatre Workshop, where it is being used to create a whole new genre of contemporary American plays.
Mr. Scott directed and produced The 1996 Church Burnings for the National Council of Churches, in which he told the story of the pastors whose churches were burned in 1996, and the response by the national government, religious organizations, charitable foundations and ordinary citizens. He also served as Executive Producer for The Builders of the New World, a documentary film that demonstrates Mr. Scott teaching his original creative techniques and tells the story of the homeless children The Actors Theatre Workshop serves.
Mr. Scott is a noted strategic advisor and creative development consultant to an impressive list of senior level business executives as quoted in Personal Excellence, the monthly business magazine. Mr. Scott has worked with executives from a wide range of companies, including Fleet Bank, Morgan Stanley, American Express, The Gap, Abbot Laboratories, Young & Rubican, Prudential Securities, Uniworld Advertising, and Microsoft.
Mr. Scott is a prolific writer and public speaker. His work includes The Necessity of Process and Potential Power In the Theatre and in American Society; A Strategy for a Secure, Enlightened Tomorrow and Illuminating Vision; and If The Person Next To You Falls, Lift Them Up, which was published in the international journal Vital Speeches.
Thurman Scott was born the son of sharecroppers in the back woods of North Carolina. As a young man he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked on the waterfront and learned to box. He served with distinction in the US Air Force Strategic Air Command under General Curtis LeMay, where he was the All Forces Middle Weight Boxing Champion for three years. Upon completion of his military service he began his creative training. Mr. Scott studied with Peggy Furey, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner and the London Academy of Dramatic Art. His primary creative influence was Stella Adler, with whom he shared a creative relationship spanning over thirty years and whom he considers the major influence on his work. In a statement she made for the founding of The Actors Theatre Workshop, Miss Adler called him "a creative revolutionary ... whose work is at the center of the conflict in the universe." Mr. Scott has been widely recognized for his extensive service to the community. His work with children led the Manhattan Borough President's Office to proclaim June 26, 1996 Actors Theatre Workshop Day in the borough of Manhattan. The National Child Labor Committee has acknowledged him for his service to young people, and he was awarded the Time Magazine Local Hero Award for his work with children.