Cutler, Jean (1927-2010) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Cutler, Jean (1927-2010)
Variant Name: Cutler, Jean Valjean

Historical Note:

Jean V. Cutler (1927 -2010) choreographer, director, and Professor of Theater was born in Hampton, Virginia, in 1927. Performing at an early age, Cutler developed an enduring interest in film and experimental theater, including poetic theater, surrealism and futurism. He received his B.A. in English from Lynchburg College in 1955 and earned a M.A. (1959) and Ph.D. (1962) in Speech at the University of Illinois, submitting a dissertation titled "Realism in Augustin Daly's Productions of Contemporary Plays." As a student, Cutler staged premieres of avant-garde works by former School of Music faculty Kenneth Gaburo, an electronic music pioneer, and Lejaren Hiller, a founder of computer music at the University of Illinois, including Hiller's "Blue is the Antecedent of It" and "Cuthbert Bound." During this period, he also choreographed two works--"Revelation in the Courthouse Park" and "Water! Water!"--by innovative composer Harry Partch.

After completing his doctorate, Cutler became an instructor at the University of Oregon, where he taught and served as the University Theater Director. Cutler returned to Urbana in 1968 to develop "Web," a work about the playwright Web Smalley that was the second in a series of films about the creative process in the performing arts. In the spring of 1970, Cutler produced and directed Kenneth Gaburo's "LINGUA III: In the Can (a dialectic mix in 3 rounds)" at the University of Oregon Theater Workshop. Cutler also interviewed Harry Partch during the early 1970s with the intention of making a film, "The End of Life is Perception," that was never finished. After retiring from the University of Oregon in 1980, Cutler continued to direct and participate in the theater community. Between 1983 and 1986, he organized a professional theater company in Washington, D.C., and directed several plays. During the 1990s, he participated in North Carolina's visiting artist program at Mitchell College and Forsyth Technical Community College.


Cutler, Jean. Letter to William McClellan, Head, Music Library, University of Illinois. July 9, 1996.

Fellers, Tracie. "Theater's A Priority to Artist-In-Residence." The Charlotte Observer. September 4, 1988.

Partch, Harry. Bitter Music: Collected Journals, Essays, Introductions and Librettos. Ed. Thomas McGeary.

University of Illinois Press, 2000. pp. 478-9.

"Visiting Artist Directing 'Liaisons.'" Greensboro News & Record. November 8, 1992.

Note Author: Jessica Ludwig

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