Virgina Scott

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1934 - 2014

Virginia Scott, Professor Emerita of Theater at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, died at her home in South Amherst on March 1, 2014. She was 79.

Virginia Scott was an internationally recognized scholar, author and teacher in the field of Dramaturgy. Among her many honors were the George Freedley Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Literature of the Theater; the Outstanding Scholar Award from the American Society for Theater Research; and the 2011 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Camargo Foundation (twice), and received several awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, including a Senior Fellowship. Published works include The Commedia dell'arte in Paris (University Press of Virginia, 1990), Molière: A Theatrical Life (Cambridge University Press, 2000), Performance, Poetry and Politics on the Queen's Day: Catherine de Médicis and Pierre de Ronsard at Fontainebleau, with Sara Sturm-Maddox (Ashgate, 2007), Tartuffe: A Critical Edition with Constance Congdon (Norton, 2008), and Women on the Stage in Early Modern France (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Virginia Lee Peters was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 2, 1934, the only child of Grace (Blackwell) Peters and Lee Henry Peters. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, she spent the next four years in New York City. She then returned to Iowa for an MFA in Playwriting and, finally, a PhD in History and Criticism of Theater.

Virginia was a founding member of the Department of Theater at the University of Massachusetts, where she served as a Professor of Dramaturgy and Playwriting. She was also a Visiting Professor in Dramaturgy at the Tufts University Department of Drama and Dance. Her translations of Moliere's plays (some with her former playwriting student, Constance Congdon) have been widely produced in regional theaters. Her original produced works include the plays Letter to Corinth; Bogus Joan; Lesser Pleasures: A Secret Opera (music & lyrics by Joshua Rosenblum); and A Living Exhibition of Sweeney Todd.

As a child of the Depression and the Progressive Era, Virginia was a passionate believer in the importance of affordable public higher education, a cultural value that gave her a superb education, and a social principle she championed throughout her long career. To that work, she brought her vast knowledge of history and social conditions, her diligent research in the theater archives in this country and in France, and her demands for honesty and excellence in her students' writing, interpretation, and theater production. In these ways she helped her students build a solid foundation for their own teaching and research careers or for their professional lives in the theater.

Virginia died peacefully in her home in South Amherst after a year-long illness. She is survived by her three children with former husband Nicholas Scott: Peter Scott (Suzan Scott, Bozeman MT); Garet Scott (Kevin Thomsen, Upper Nyack, NY); Sarah Scott (Peter Arensburger, Riverside, CA) and nine grandchildren.
Published on from Mar. 10 to Mar. 11, 2014
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