Wednesday, January 4, 2017

MURRAY ROSS...1942-2017.

For those who may not have heard this sad news, I have copied below the message I received late yesterday from Drew Martorella, Executive Director, UCCS Presents:

Dear Friends,

It is with the most profound sadness that I must share the news that my inestimable friend and colleague Murray Ross passed away on January 3, 2017 with his wife, sisters, sons and his dog Toby by his side.    

In his own words (which appeared as the last line of his directing bios for years), he was married to the painter Elizabeth Ross, was the father of four splendid sons (two acquired , two sired), and was regularly walked by his dog, Toby.

Murray was an artist of the highest regard, an extraordinary academic, and a bold leader in the arts. In his 42 years at UCCS, he made wonderful and seemingly impossible things happen—he built a professional theatre company, he produced classic and contemporary plays in classrooms, buses, warehouses, basements, and, of course, the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, and he put true beauty and goodness out into this world.  

He worked with thousands of students, artists, actors, and staff and without a doubt left an impression on each. If you were lucky enough to be among those thousands, you know that he was wickedly funny, tremendously smart, a bit of an anarchist, a dreamer, a daydreamer, and a great lover of life. Good wine, great art, dinners around his ancient kitchen table, adventures (on stage and off), storytelling (on stage and off) and spirited debate filled his life. 

If he is to be measured by the company he kept, he stands tall. With the lifelong friends he met in college, he helped dismantle systems of segregation; with his wife, Betty, he founded THEATREWORKS and they produced over 100 shows together; and with the support of great artists and patrons he, in no small part, made it possible for UCCS to build the Ent Center for the Arts.

I have known and worked with Murray for over twenty years. And while I was the Executive Director of THEATREWORKS we were essential to each other. We were best friends. And I already miss him terribly.

Once more, to quote Murray, “In play we are free, and we are human, and in the theatre we are free and human together. We wish you joy.” I share his wish for joy for you all.

We are determined to build on what he started.  We will continue to make magic in improbable places, spread joy, celebrate the greatest plays ever written, and try our hand at a few new ones as well. I know we will do all of these things and have a very good time along the way. It’s just what Murray would have wanted.

Notes may be sent to the family in care of the Office of the Chancellor, 401 Main Hall. At the request of the family, donations can be made to the Murray Ross Artists Endowment Fund with the CU Foundation. Click here to go to the CU Foundation page to give your gift.

Drew Martorella

Words fail me, but Drew's eloquent tribute to Murray captures both his strength and his spirit.  This loss came much too soon; Murray's work was not finished.  He was a major force bringing the new Ent Center for the Arts to life.  It will house Theatreworks' new home in a black box space and carry the name "Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theatre."

When I first walk into that theater next year, I will know it as the Murray Ross Theatre.  He dreamed it.  He built it.  And his spirit will always inhabit that space.

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