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AMERICAN THEATRE | Joan Hotchkis: From Actors Studio to the TV Studio, Then to Efficiency Artwork


Joan Hotchkis in “Tearsheets: Letters I Did not Ship Dwelling,” at Highways Efficiency Area in 1990.

Joan Hotchkis—veteran actor, author, screenwriter, playwright, and feminist efficiency artist, whose profession spanned greater than 5 many years—died on Sept. 27 in Los Angeles of congestive coronary heart failure, in response to her daughter, Paula Chambers. She was 95.

Hotchkis was the final surviving little one of Preston Hotchkis and Katharine Bixby, civic leaders in Los Angeles with statewide and nationwide affect all through the final century, who led every thing from the Metropolitan Water District to the California Historic Society. Extra importantly, Hotchkis was an beautiful human being: heat, beneficiant, supportive, gracious, open-minded, and humorous. She cared about every particular person she met and used her assets to uplift the downtrodden, particularly girls, artists, and elders. Hotchkis was additionally forward of her time in writing and starring in performs, a function movie, and efficiency artwork with a progressive feminist viewpoint.

After incomes a B.A. in psychology from Smith Faculty and an M.A. in early childhood schooling from Financial institution Road Trainer’s Faculty, Hotchkis taught nursery faculty in New York “for about quarter-hour” (her phrases) earlier than changing into an actor in 1954 on the age of 27. She obtained work straight away regardless of her inexperience. Whereas residence for the vacations, she auditioned for the main position of Lizzie in The Rainmaker on the Gamers Ring Theater in Hollywood and obtained the half, incomes reward and encouragement from different actors.

Returning to New York, Hotchkis grew to become a member of the Actors Studio, the place she studied with Lee Strasberg. She was forged in quite a few TV commercials and visitor spots. Whereas taking pictures a kind of commercials, she met director Bob Foster; they married in 1958 and had a daughter, Paula. 

Hotchkis performed Myra on the cleaning soap opera The Secret Storm, portrayed Stella in A Streetcar Named Need on the Northland Theater in Detroit, did summer time inventory, and debuted on Broadway in 1960 on the Cort Theatre in Advise and Consent, with Conrad Bain, Ed Begley, and Richard Kiley.

After divorcing in 1967, Hotchkis moved with Paula again to her hometown of Los Angeles, the place she joined the Actors Studio West and rapidly landed visitor spots on numerous TV reveals, together with the position of Dr. Nancy Cunningham, someday girlfriend of Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple

Hotchkis additionally had a present for writing. With Technique performing instructor Eric Morris, she co-wrote the now-classic performing handbook No Appearing, Please. In 1974, Hotchkis grew to become a playwright with Legacy, about an upper-class housewife who spirals into a whole psychological and emotional breakdown. She starred within the play on the Actors Studio West, directed by Morris, and later adapated it right into a screenplay. Shortly after the movie was accomplished, she was recognized with meningioma (a non-cancerous mind tumor) and had it efficiently surgically eliminated, permitting her many years extra productiveness.

It additionally modified Hotchkis’s priorities, as she gave up on TV and movie and returned to the stage. On the Taper Too, she performed Fluffy Mom in Cowboy Jack Road (1976), adopted by Madame Irma in The Balcony on the Odyssey Theatre. At Oregon Shakespeare Pageant, Hotchkis performed Paulina in A Winter’s Story, Girl Homosexual Spanker in London Assurance, and Judith Bliss in Hay Fever. At Milwaukee Repertory Theater, she performed Isabella, Louise, and Mrs. Kidd in Prime Women, and Mrs. Sutphen in A Lady With out Means. In Los Angeles, she performed Mrs. Temptwell in The Grace of Mary Traverse at Los Angeles Theatre Works in 1988. Hotchkis portrayed Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie 4 occasions: at Los Angeles’ Callboard and Fountain Theaters in 1981, at Nashville’s James Polk Theater in 1982, at Cincinnati’s Playhouse within the Park in 1985, and at Los Angeles Theater Heart in 1988.

Impressed by a “writing for efficiency” workshop taught by the legendary Rachel Rosenthal in 1990, Hotchkis reworked herself from actor to efficiency artist. Her first efficiency artwork piece, Tearsheets: Letters I Didn’t Ship Dwelling, directed by Steven Kent, was a multimedia solo work exposing the sexism and brutality beneath the beautiful floor of her upper-class childhood. Hotchkis debuted Tearsheets at Highways Efficiency Area in Santa Monica, obtained rave evaluations, toured it by the Southwest, and then to the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe, the place it was the one American manufacturing to win a “Fringe First” award in 1992.

In 1996, a 68-year-old Hotchkis debuted Parts of Flesh, or Screwing Saved My Ass, a surprising, extremely private tour de drive about growing older and sexuality, directed by Clifford Bell and once more produced at Highways. Joan carried out Parts to sold-out audiences and standing ovations at Highways and all through Southern California. The present obtained nice evaluations, and likewise hate mail—proof that she had dealt a blow to the sick and damaging perception that elders don’t, can not, or shouldn’t have intercourse.

Hotchkis was at all times very considering social justice, supporting progressive nonprofits and mentoring vivid younger girls from underprivileged backgrounds. She offered crucial help to activists, together with Torie Osborn, who would go on to grow to be head of the Nationwide Homosexual and Lesbian Process Pressure, and Bogaletch “Boge” Gebre, defender of Ethiopian girls’s rights.

As an actor, author, producer, efficiency artist, philanthropist, mentor, and pal, Joan Hotchkis impressed numerous individuals along with her ardour, braveness, generosity, and pleasant mix of magnificence and playfulness. She is survived by daughter Paula and plenty of family members who will miss her enormously. 

Her memorial can be non-public, however donations will be made in Hotchkis’s reminiscence to Highways Efficiency Area, which supported her transformation from mainstream actor to efficiency artwork crusader for the rights of girls, artists, and elders.

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