October 25, 2008

In Memorian: Clayton Riley

My friend Clayton Riley died yesterday. He was an ardent and constant advocate for African-American theater, an astute critic of theater of all kinds and a supportive reader of this blog. Clayton started off as an actor and his credits include the original productions of Martin Duberman’s In White America and LeRoi Jones’ The Dutchman. During that time, he also helped form the Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop, which developed the works of African-American playwrights. Over the years, his articles and critiques appeared in the New York Times and The Village Voice. He also taught at Cornell University, Fordham University, the New School and my alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, where I first met him when I took his class. He later married one of my closest friends and occasional theater partners Joy and my husband K and I have spent many wonderful evenings with them. We'll miss him. Clayton was a great raconteur and a generous friend and he remained until the end, an enthusiastic believer in the power of good theater. That will live on. Joy is setting up a fund in his name at Sarah Lawrence that will buy tickets for students who otherwise couldn’t afford to see theater here in the city. It's a fitting tribute for a true theater lover.

4 comments:

Esther said...

Jan,
I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend. Thank-you for filling me in on all of his contributions. And what a perfect tribute, to ensure that a new generation will come to believe in the power of good theater.

jan@broadwayandme said...

Esther, your condolences are greatly appreciated.

Kevin W Thorbourne said...

i knew Clayton though his work at the Village Voice and WBAI. He talked about politics, culture, and music with great ease and confidence and I learned a great deal about being a Black man from Clayton and also his brother Mark. Rest in peace, my brother.

Anonymous said...

May Clayton Riley rest in peace. I remember him from his radio days @ WBAI Radio. He was an excellent host, although he was unfairly attacked by Amy Goodman and Robert Knight and they arranged for him to be thrown off the air in a vicious way. He was too black and too strong for them. Peace to him and his family!!