Cedar City, UT – It is with deep sadness that the Utah Shakespeare Festival shares the news that producing artistic director emeritus Douglas N. Cook passed away on May 31 in San Diego, California due to an aggressive stomach cancer. He was a driving force for excellence at the Festival, dedicating over 37 years nurturing and caring for the individual artists and technicians as well as the Festival as a whole.
Cook was a longtime leader, visionary and friend. “He will be sorely missed; we have lost a giant,” said Fred C. Adams, Festival founder.
Cook joined the Festival in 1964. He was teaching drama at the University of California at Riverside when he learned about a new Shakespearean theatre in Cedar City, Utah and he became intrigued. Cook was especially adept at designing scenery for Shakespeare productions and under his guidance, the props department blossomed and the sets better reflected the periods that designers were trying to represent.
As a talented and enthusiastic scenic designer, he instantly began to shape the artistic dream and creative integrity of the young company. His influence since can be charted using the titles he has capably worn: scenic designer, design director, associate producer, and producing artistic director.
With the continued growth of the Festival, Cook quickly became more and more integral to its day-to-day operations and its larger vision for the future. In 1970, he supplied the initial research and sketches for a long dreamed-about permanent theatre. These sketches would ultimately evolve into the world renowned Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre. The dedication of this remarkable building in 1977 was a highlight in the long list of Cook’s contributions, only to be equaled by his sensitive oversight of the design and construction of the Randall L. Jones Theatre in 1989.
Cook’s achievements in, and contributions to, the world of theatre have been many and varied. He has been president of or served on the board of every major theatrical association in the United States. He was the co-founder (with Sidney Berger) of the Shakespeare Theatre Association. An abundance of awards and accolades have accompanied these affiliations, but Cook, ever humble, was always quick to equally note the accomplishments of others.
“When Doug joined the Festival family it was the beginning of a remarkable team,” said Adams. “His design and technical theatre skills added that necessary element that brought the Festival into a Tony Award-winning organization. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye.”
Executive Director R. Scott Phillips commented, “Doug was a friend to all. He was always available with a listening ear or for a quiet conversation. He was a mentor to me personally and always stressed the importance of dignity and civility in our profession. I will miss him deeply.”
Doug Cook is survived by his wife Joan and their son Stephen. Stephen is married to Kristen and they have two children, Tully and Jasper.
Details regarding the funeral are pending.