<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Joan Potter, acting teacher, mentor, dies... March 14, 2008


Thomas Q. Fulton, Jr.
Director, Actor, Teacher

  Home PageBiography
Theatre Workshops
Fairmount Center
Theatre Companies


I was stunned and deeply saddened to hear that Joan had died on Friday, March 14, 2008.  Joan Potter was my acting teacher at Southern Methodist University from 1970-1975.  Without at doubt, it was 'Miss Potter' who gave me the courage to create. No acting teacher has ever offered me as much in terms of facing my own demons and challenging my own capacity as an actor. She was a master of her craft and brought a single-minded passion to her work that gave us all the belief that acting and art could be and are synonomous. Even today, I still feel her over my shoulder - pushing me onward... onward... I have always thought of her as my mentor.

Even though I haven't seen her in years, I feel her loss keenly.  My deepest respect and thanks go to her - as she was a genius who taught me how to see art and theatre in the same breath.. and how to make my reach exceed my grasp.

Onward, Joan.

In the June 15, 1990 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a small article appeared about Joan and my association with her.  She was in town at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival doing "A Delicate Balance". My production of The Cherry Orchard was running up the street; a production she came to see on closing night. 

This is the article.

Potter preceded by reputation

Joan Potter, who plays the cool, impeccably groomed and incredibly articulate Agnes in the Great Lakes Theater Festival production of "A Delicate Balance" (at the Ohio Theater through June 23), has an unusual Cleveland connection: She taught director/actor Tom Fulton at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and so became the guiding spirit of the Centerep and Phoenix Theater companies that he founded in Cleveland after he graduated in 1975.

"We've heard so much about her from Tom -- we feel as if she was the company's mother," said Wendy Warren Zangrando, longtime Phoenix member. "She is the strongest influence on my work," Fulton said. "She's responsible for introducing me to theater a la Stanislavsky." His current production of "The Cherry Orchard," at The Civic in Cleveland Heights through this weekend, has a thank-you to Potter in the program. "As I work, I still imagine her looking over my shoulder," he added.

Published in the New York Times on 3/18/2008

POTTER--Joan. Purchase College School of the Arts, Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film, mourns the loss of our beloved professor and colleague. Earlier in her career, she was an actor working in TV and was affiliated with the Actors Studio. She has inspired generations of acting students in the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film at Purchase College for over 30 years. She established a student interdisciplinary award fund in the Purchase College Foundation in honor of her colleague and friend Mimi Arsham, who taught film at Purchase. Thomas J. Schwarz President Purchase College

Obituary from the Wilton (Connecticut) Bulletin
Mar 17, 2008

Joan Potter, 82, longtime Wilton resident, theater arts teacher
Joan Frances Potter, a longtime Wilton resident died Friday, March 14 after an extended illness. She was 82.

The daughter of Raymond Valentine and Loudie Weagle Potter, she was born in Milton, Nova Scotia and reared in Calgary, Alberta. At the age of 12, she and her younger brother were orphaned and sent to the United States to be cared for by extended family.

Her teenage years were spent in Duluth, Minn., with academic study following at Oberlin College and Northwestern University. Ms. Potter honed her skills as actor, director, and teacher at Northwestern, earning undergraduate and master’s degrees there.

She performed on stage and television throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but later focused primarily on teaching and directing at the college level, first at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and for the remainder of her long career, at the Theatre Arts and Film Division, School of Fine Arts, SUNY, Purchase, N.Y. She was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year at that institution in 1999.

She is survived by her brother, Robert W. Potter, of Plymouth, Minn., and many relatives.

A celebration of her life will be held on Thursday, March 20 at 11 a.m. at the Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Avenue in Norwalk. A memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. Burial will take place in Deluth, Minn.

Donations may be made to The New School, Drama Dept., 686 West 12th St., New York, NY 10011

Professional Biography
Joan Potter appeared on Broadway in the 1961 production of "A Far Country" and the 1964 Lee Strasberg production of "The Three Sisters", where she understudied Kim Stanley as Masha.  Ms. Potter appeared in a number of TV productions during the 1950s. She costarred with Darren McGavin in the 1953 "Philco Television Playhouse" production of "The Rainmaker." Other credits include "Studio One" and "The Nurses." Ms. Potter taught acting at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University and then at the Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film at Purchase College, where she taught for over 30 years.