A Tribute to Orlin Corey - CTFA President’s Tribute

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Orlin Corey
Visionary Leader
Passionate Advocate for Young People and the Arts
Beloved Mentor and Friend

Orlin Corey has been a part of the Childrens Theatre Foundation, almost from its beginnings. As President of the Foundation for over 25 years, he lead the transition of the Foundation from a small, informal group, to a multi-faceted and influential grant-giving organization. His many, many accomplishments are articulated in his obituary, which I have shared, below. The obituary describes a remarkable career of service to theatre and young people, a career of hugely influential projects and well-earned awards.

Yet behind all of the work and accolades was Orlin, the man we so loved and respected. The man who mentored all of us, through word and deed. The man who personified grace and wisdom in service to the arts and young people. We will miss his erudition, his great knack for story-telling, and his mischievous wit. And we celebrate the life he shared so generously. Thank you, Orlin, for making the world richer for all of us.
—Roger Bedard, President

(Photo of Orlin Corey and Roger Bedard at 2015 Orlin Corey Medallion Awards Event)

Orlin Russel Corey, theatre artist and publisher, died October 11, 2015 following a stroke. He was 89. A gentle man of integrity and visionary talent, he will be greatly missed. A native of Oklahoma, he served in the Navy in World War II. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Baylor University studying with Paul Baker and Charles Laughton. He had advanced study at Britain’s Central School of Speech and Drama and further study at the University of London and University of Kentucky. He taught 8 years at Georgetown College, Kentucky, and 8 at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.

He founded and directed Everyman Players, a touring classical troupe, creating celebrated productions of Job, Electra, Romans, Pilgrim’s Progress, Quixote, and such children’s classics as Reynard the Fox and Tortoise and Hare. He led them through repeated New York and London seasons, and 24 years performing on four continents. They appeared at numerous international festivals receiving the American Theatre Association Jennie Heiden Award for Professional Theatre for Youth, and honors from the National Catholic Theatre Association and Britain’s Religious Drama Society.

Corey was producer of the American College Theatre Festival at J.F. Kennedy Center, Washington. He mounted national and international theatre festivals in Washington, Montreal-Albany, and the Louisiana World Expo (1984). In 1977 he became publisher of Anchorage Press, plays and text for youth theatre until his retirement in 2000.

Honors include Distinguished Alumnae Award, Baylor University; Induction into National Theatre Conference, New York City; Induction into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre; Dean of College of Fellows ; Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award, American Alliance for Theatre and Education; Founders Award, Educational Theatre Association; the Medallion Award, Children’s Theatre Foundation of America; AATE Orlin Corey Award of Artistic Excellence; and Honorary Lifetime Membership Award by Religious Drama Society (RADIUS) Great Britain.

Never a spectator, he was actively involved with national organizations serving on the board of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America for 34 years, and as president for 25 years. The CTFA Medallion award was renamed the Orlin Corey Medallion in his honor in 2010. He was president of the US Center for ASSITEJ. Professional colleague and playwright emeritus, Susan Zeder, referred to him as “Dean of All that Matters.”

A nurturer of talents, he served on many boards including The NOCCA Institute (President 1996-98) and was an Honorary Lifetime Member. He served as an evaluator for Gifted/Talented Theatre programs in school districts throughout Southern Louisiana for over 40 years.

His lifelong fascination with history was initiated during his year-long recovery from infantile paralysis, at the age of 11, when he devoured a history of World War I and listened to radio speeches of Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler. He became a voracious reader. Such passion compelled him to research and present programs for The National WWII Museum. His Voices: 1914-1945, A Commemorative Concert has been presented at the WWII Museum on November 11 for the past 13 years. He was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Churchill Society of New Orleans and a frequent attender of International Conferences. (Biographical information provided by Shirley Trusty Corey, 10/2015)