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Remembering Dr. Sidney Berger

categories: In the News

The University of Houston lost one of its visionary pioneers recently when Dr. Sidney Berger, longtime director of the School of Theatre and Dance, passed away at the age of 77.  He leaves behind a legacy rich in contributions to education and the arts.

In over four decades with the University of Houston, Dr. Berger was integral in growing the School of Theatre and Dance  to the preeminent program it has become, adding award-winning playwrights to its faculty and forging unique relationships with the larger, thriving Houston theatre community.  Among his accomplishments Dr. Berger founded and served as director for the Houston Shakespeare Festival, co-founded and served as producer for the Children’s Theatre Festival, and directed at the Alley Theatre as an Associate Artist.

In his contributions to research, Dr. Berger was responsible for helping the UH Libraries acquire the papers of Cheryl Crawford, co-founder of the Group Theatre and Broadway director, and Jose Quintero, co-founder of Circle in the Square Theatre and the director who helmed the Eugene O’Neill revival.

In 1999-2000, Dr. Berger and Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections, co-curated the exhibition Long Day’s Journey Into Light: Theatre Master, Jose Quintero at M.D. Anderson Library.  He was a cherished friend and colleague in education and will certainly be missed.

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One thought on “Remembering Dr. Sidney Berger

  1. In late 2000 I applied for admission to UH but was turned down due to a terribly low GPA. I had spent the first few years of college at TCU and had spent too much time outside the classroom.

    Through a family friend I was able to schedule a face to face meeting with Dr. Berger. In the meeting I described my situation, my past and asked if there was any way that I could be allowed admittance to UH. Dr. Berger agreed but with a few conditions.

    First, I had to make the grades. He gave me one semester and if I made a B or better, I could stay on for another semester. Second, I had to begin as a theatre major. The first class I signed up for was beginning acting taught by Dr. Berger. And I loved every minute of it.

    I made grades that fall semester and in the spring as well before I was taken off academic probation. My grades improved so much from my days at TCU that Dr. Ross Lence even asked me for a face to face meeting to ask what had changed to bring about such a different second college experience. Along with a few others things, I got to talk about Dr. Berger.

    I graduated in the fall of 2006 and remember, regularly, the care and gentility of Dr. Berger. He was encouraging, fair and terribly hospitable. It is because of him that I was able to return to college and it is because of him that I stuck it out to do right the second time around.

    I am so disappointed that I never got to return and tell him that I graduated. It would have been a wonderfully sweet bookend to my story. I will never forget that day I sat down in his office just to plead my case. He extended grace to me and it made a world of difference in my life and the in life of my family.