Lessac, professor emeritus of theatre, dies at 101
April 26, 2011Tweet
Arthur Lessac, 101, professor emeritus of theatre, died Thursday, April 7. He continued to live a full life up until a week before his death, creating a new drama department and teaching at the University of Rijeka in Croatia. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University.
A vocal coach who developed a holistic approach to training the human voice, Lessac’s method, known as Lessac Kinesensic Training, encompassed speech, singing and movement, incorporating physical and emotional health in the process.
He was a legend in his field, training the original Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre Company and actors in Broadway shows, as well as actors including Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Frank Langella and Martin Sheen, Lessac authored books including The Use and Training of the Human Voice and The Use and Training of the Human Body, which are today used in drama classes across the country. He also founded the Lessac Training & Research Institute that continues to certify trainers around the globe.
Lessac joined the faculty at Binghamton University in 1969, and retired in 1981. He also taught at the University of Puerto Rico, California State University and the University of Virginia.
Richard Cuyler, associate professor emeritus of theatre, met Lessac at a summer workshop at Binghamton in 1970, and ultimately joined Binghamton’s faculty himself in 1973. “I taught in the summer workshops throughout the USA for around 20 years, so I got to know him very well,” Cuyler said. “He was my mentor, colleague, even a surrogate father for a time during those years.”
Cuyler said Lessac “changed my life and teaching methods. He was a mesmerizing teacher and person, always looking for discoveries through his self-teaching. He never rested when it came to his research.”
Calling Lessac ‘an original’, Cuyler said his legacy and body of work will continue with each succeeding generation and his vitality and love for peace in the world was exhilarating.
Lessac is survived by his son, daughter, two grandchildren, cousins and friends, students and extended family around the world.