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In Memoriam: Ace G. Pilkington

Ace G. Pilkington

Ace G. Pilkington

Ace G. Pilkington, teacher, playwright, prolific writer, and literary seminar director at the Utah Shakespeare Festival for over thirty years, passed away on February 20, 2019.

Ace was a fixture in the Seminar Grove as he led interesting and lively discussions of the Festival’s plays. He was admired and loved by many who made it a priority to be at the seminars early in the morning. “The conversational moments that Ace shared with patrons in the Seminar Grove were an important part for the Festival patrons’ experience,” said Michael Bahr, education director. “He cultivated stimulating conversation and was the catalyst for epiphanies and discovery and the impetus for the seminars we have today.”

“How exciting the Festival Literary Seminars became when Ace joined forces with Jerry Crawford, Nancy Melich, and other seminar directors,” said Fred C. Adams, Festival founder. “Ace brought his vast knowledge of the Bard to thousands of Festival playgoers, and we will all miss him.”

Ace was born on December 20, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Acel Amos and RoseMae Jensen Pilkington, but he spent his childhood in Hyrum, Utah. He earned his MA in modern drama from Utah State University,  his MLitt in English Renaissance drama from Middlebury College, and his DPhil in Shakespeare, history, and film at Oxford University. At his passing he was a professor of English and history at Dixie State University.

He has published over 100 poems, articles, and short stories in over sixty publications in five countries, including Science and Futurism: Their Terms and Ideas (2017); Our Lady Guenevere: A Play (2017); The Fantastic Made Visible (co-editor, 2015); Screening Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V (1991). He was also a regular contributor to Midsummer Magazine and the Festival’s Insights study guides.

Ace and his wife, Olga, were married on September 11, 2003, and together they wrote the filmography for Michael Flachmann’s 2007 Shakespeare from Page to Stage, edited and translated the stories in Fairy Tales of the Russians and Other Slavs, and lectured together on International Shakespeare and The End of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the New Russia.

He was an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and received numerous awards for his essays and poetry, including the Readers’ Choice Award for best poem of the year (“The Robots’ Farewell to the Master”) in Asimov’s Science Fiction, 1992.

“I am very saddened by the passing of Ace. He was such a devoted advocate of the Festival, and his passion for Shakespeare was infectious,” concluded Brian Vaughn, artistic director. “He was a stalwart in the grove, and the impact he made on our audiences over the years is immeasurable.”

So, with heavy hearts we bid farewell and many thanks to our old friend. We will miss him in the Grove.

Updated February 25, 2019

Graveside services will be at 2 p.m., February 28 at the Tonaquint Cemetery, 1777 South Dixie Drive, St. George, Utah. It will be followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. in Conference Room D of the Gardner Center at Dixie State University. Services are under the direction of McMillan Mortuary.

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