A tribute to Jean-Claude Van Itallie

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In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to celebrate and remember author, actor, playwright, translator and vibrant human being Jean-Claude Van Itallie, who passed away on September 9, 2021.

A seminal force in the 1960’s Off Broadway theater scene, a devoted Buddhist, a lover of Continuum and a grand supporter of the vision of Watermark Arts, I was heartbroken to learn of Jean-Claude’s death.

Jean-Claude performed with Watermark Arts in Los Angeles, New York City and at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY. His intensity is captured in Kafka’s Ghost, a video excerpt where he brings text by Emilie Conrad to life. We also share with you a reading by Jean-Claude from Emilie’s book Life on Land from a 2021 online Watermarkings.

In recent years, Jean-Claude collaborated with lyricist Lois Walden to create the opera Mila, Great Sorcerer. Lois shares intimate memories of working with Jean-Claude in JC and ME.

I will always treasure my times with Jean-Claude at his beloved Shantigar Foundation in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, a landscape he cared for with the precision and thought he brought to all his endeavors. One of his last actions ensured that the nature at Shantigar would be forever protected in a land trust.

In 2016, the name Watermark Arts came to me in a dream while I was teaching at Shantigar. A day after learning about Jean-Claude, in my grief, I sent him a video message which I now share with you below.

Dear JC, as you travel into the unknown, the love and respect of the many whom you influenced goes with you…

Artistic Director, Watermark Arts

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