Abe V. Wollock, Theater Arts: Los Angeles


Abe Wollock came to the University's Department of Theater Arts in 1960, richly experienced. He had earned his M.A. degree at Cornell University in 1948 in theatre production and dramatic literature, and had already completed his course work for the Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, in theatre history, dramatic literature and art history. In 1962, his dissertation was completed, while on the faculty here, and it was in that same year that he received his Ph.D. degree.

Prior to coming to UCLA, he had worked directly with Cleon Throckmorton, designer of many of Eugene O'Neill's Provincetown Plays. Abe Wollock also designed a number of shows for the New School of Social Research, many of these productions directed by the renowned Sandy Meisner. Employed as designer and technical director for the Cornell University Theatre, he designed eight productions between 1947-1948. He designed approximately 35 productions for the Montana State University Theatre between 1948-1955, during which time he also directed 13 productions, including four operas. With two of his brothers he was a co-owner of a scenic studio in New York City, 1955-1960, during which time he designed scenery of filmed commercials, and also worked on construction for more than a dozen feature films.

When Abe Wollock joined the department it was still lodged in temporary quarters and both the Motion Picture and Radio-Television divisions were struggling for an identity. Because Abe Wollock brought to his position a vast practical background in scenic design and construction, together with first-rate scholarship in the history of the American Theatre, his counsel was eagerly sought. His talents were fully realized while he contributed most significantly to the design and equipping of the new television studios, and teaching courses in TV direction, production, stagecraft, camera, screenwriting, and a doctoral seminar in aesthetics.

His ingenuity in reconstructing Benjamin Latrobe's architectural revisions of the Second Chestnut Street Theater, a Federalist Philadelphia landmark,

made Abe Wollock a frequent and welcome guest lecturer in the Theater Division's graduate bibliography and research course. The Theater Division profited also from his conducting classes in acting, stage direction, scenic design, and manuscript evaluation.

He was continually sought after by other agencies of the campus, a primary example of which was his work with the Graduate Division on the Experimental Media Program venture, the Los Angeles Junior Program; also the UCLA Conference on Theater Arts; “2 On the Town”; The Musical Comedy Workshop; and with Bob Finkel on behalf of the Los Angeles Olympic Committee.

A warm and compassionate man, he made leisurely strolls from building to building, and daily pauses in Murphy Court, amiably exchanging ideas with students, faculty, and staff. He was also a vigorous fighter in defense of basic educational principles, and remained an outspoken champion of quality in education throughout his career.

Ivan Cury Henry Goodman Arthur B. Friedman