Tom Haas, 53, artistic director of the Indiana Repertory Theater, died Feb. 21 in Indianapolis of a pulmonary embolism. He had been hit by a van while jogging in heavy fog near his Indianapolis home Jan. 28.
Haas grew up in Nutley, N J., and studied at Montclair State College. He received a masters degree from Cornell U. and a Ph.D. from the U. of Wisconsin. He taught theater at Queens College, Emerson College and the U. of North Carolina, where he founded the Playmakers Repertory Theater and served as its director for six years.
He was head of the acting/directing department of the Yale School of Drama from 1969 to 1974, and served as associate director of the Yale Repertory Theater from 1970 to 1974. Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Gross and Henry Winkler were among his students.
Haas was co-founder of the Weathervane Theater, a summer stock theater in Whitefield, N.H., where he served as artistic director for over 25 years. As guest director, his work was seen at Williamstown Theater Festival, and his production of “Hamlet” with Rip Torn and Tammy Grimes was presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival. He directed Marian Seldes in an American Place Theater production of “Isadora Duncan Sleeps With The Russian Navy.”
During his 11-year tenure at the Indiana Rep, the state’s only year-round professional company, Haas directed 35 mainstage productions. He was known as an innovator and a risk-taker. He created IRT’s experimental Upperstage as well as the separate Cabaret stage for small musicals.
His arrival at IRT in 1980 coincided with the company’s move to the Indiana Theater. Haas abruptly canceled three of the six shows already planned for his first season at IRT, preferring to substitute his own selections.
He also adapted several productions performed at IRT, including “Frankenstein,” “The Three Musketeers” and the forthcoming production of “Hedda Gabler,” which he was scheduled to direct this month. He also was an on-site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts.
Survived by his son, Colin, and his mother, Dorothy Fuchs.