Artistic Director, Executive Producer and Founder
THURMAN E. SCOTT is the Artistic Director, Executive Producer, and Founder of The Actors Theatre Workshop. He is a master teacher of creative process and conflict resolution, and an award-winning actor, writer, director and producer who uses the principles of drama to address the conflicts of the community.
Mr. Scott’s extensive work on the stage includes a wide range of roles in over 60 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 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 played a leading role developing, casting and producing over twenty feature films for Dino De Laurentiis Studios, and had a strong influence in developing the studio’s strategy to produce medium-budget films. 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 and then 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. Since 1990 Mr. Scott has led The Actors Theatre Workshop’s development as a vital and flourishing New York City cultural institution that provides individuals with the tools to fulfill their potential through studying his original theatre and education technique, and has created new techniques to develop and produce plays, documentary films and training programs. ATW 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.
Among his many accomplishments at ATW, he created and over 20 years has taught The Builders of the New World, a program that trains and develops homeless children’s imaginations and teaches them to participate in the Democratic process, leading to measurable personal, academic and professional success. He directed and produced the documentary film Burned Churches for the National Council of Churches, telling the story of pastors whose churches were burned in the American south, and the response by the national government, religious organizations, charitable foundations and ordinary citizens, and raises the issue into a dialog on our national struggle with racism. He created and taught the Israel / West Bank Drama Project, an ongoing program for Israeli and Palestinian young people and community leaders that has given participants new insights and ways of looking at the conflict, and greater empathy and understanding for themselves and each other.
At The Actors Theatre Workshop, Mr. Scott has directed and developed a number of classic and original plays, including Homecoming by Eugene O’Neill, as part of ATW’s New Play Series in which ATW puts new and classic plays on their feet and invites the audience to witness the power of the creative process unfold before their eyes; the American Premiere of Mary Stuart by Dacia Maraini; and The Love Letter by Janet Marie Scott. The Love Letter, which had its world-wide premiere at The Actors Theatre Workshop, 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 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 Google, Microsoft, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, American Express, The Gap, Abbot Laboratories, Young & Rubicam, and Uniworld Advertising.
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 E. Scott was born in North Carolina. As a young man he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked on the waterfront and learned to box. Before embarking upon his career as a theatre artist Mr. Scott served with distinction in the US Air Force Strategic Air Command where he flew over 300 missions as a bomb navigator on B-52’s. He was recruited to Special Services where he excelled as an athlete. Developing his interest in boxing, he competed in many boxing competitions and attained the title of All Forces Middle Weight Boxing Champion for four years.
After his military service Mr. Scott began his creative training and studied in America, England and Russia for many years before embarking upon his professional career with the greatest drama teachers of the twentieth century, including Peggy Furey, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, Jerzey Grotowski, and at the Moscow Art Theatre and the London Academy of Dramatic Art.
Mr. Scott’s primary creative influence was his mentor Stella Adler, with whom he shared a creative relationship spanning over twenty-five 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 said “Thurman E. Scott is the inheritor of the Stanislavski legacy and of my legacy. His work advances acting technique for the next generation,” and called him “a creative revolutionary … whose work is at the center of the conflict in the universe.”
Thurman E. Scott has won numerous awards and recognitions for his highly effective work as a teacher and theatre artist, including The Teaching Peace Award. 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.
Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger may have best stated the value of such work by saying, “Thurman E. Scott is a true visionary. That an artist of his magnitude has chosen to do work of this kind in our time is hope for the future.” For Mr. Scott has done something unique at his theater and educational institution. He has proven over and over that creativity is the great equalizer and unifier among human beings, and given individuals the tools to overcome adversity. He has created plays and films of truth and power. He has changed lives of countless individuals with work that inspires hope.