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John Stix  

Date of birth:
1920

Profession:
Stage and Film Director
Acting Teacher

Student

1938-39
1939-40
1940-41
1941-42

Graduation in Music, 1942. William Mitchell, examiner. 

 

 

 
John Stix attended Black Mountain College from 1938-1942. One of the few students to survive the arduous graduation process, he graduated in music under Heinrich Jalowetz. In St. Louis, Stix attended the progressive John Burroughs High School. His family heard about Black Mountain after reading Louis Adamic’s article "Education on a Mountain." Stix recalled that Harvard was the family school and that permission to attend Black Mountain was given only after he had applied to and been accepted at Harvard. 

Initially Stix was interested in theater and took part in many productions including Macbeth, in which he had the lead role, John Gabriel Borkman, and The Cherry Orchard. Increasingly, however, he was drawn to the music program and the teaching of Heinrich Jalowetz and John Evarts. For his thesis he wrote a comparison of two Verdi operas based on Shakespeare’s Othello and Macbeth. He also was interested in photography and recalled that Josef Albers, whose studio was just down the hall from Stix’s study, would critique his student work.

During World War II Stix served in the Signal Corps in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. After a year in New York where he worked on a movie Dreams That Money Can Buy, he attended Yale University for his M.F.A. degree in Drama. In New York Stix made his directing debut with an off-Broadway production of August Strindberg’s The Father, an off-Broadway hit. Stix recalled that rave reviews in the Sunday New York Times, unusual at the time for off-Broadway, enabled the company to get Equity contracts for the actors and helped establish off-Broadway as legitimate theater. Helen Hayes asked Stix to direct a production of James M. Barrie’s Mary Rose for which she was producer. He subsequently directed her in Joshua Logan’s The Wisteria Trees and James M. Barrie’s What Every Woman Knows, a production chosen to open the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles. Stix also directed the Off-Broadway hit Family Business; the Roundabout Theatre revival of The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s The Price and Alan Paton’s Too Late the Phalarope. From1970-73 Stix was Artistic Director of the Baltimore Center Stage where he directed fourteen major productions. The musical Park and Slow Dance on the Killing Ground with Billy Dee Williams were moved to New York. Stix directed productions on the "Omnibus" series for television. Film credits include director of Steve McQueen in The Great Bank Robbery and the screenplay from Elia Kazan’s novel, The Assassins.

Stix was one of the first directing members of the Actors Studio and worked with Lee Strasberg on the organization of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.

Since 1973, Stix has taught drama at the Juilliard School. He lives north of New York City.



John Stix as Macbeth, May 1940.
Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, 
Black Mountain College Papers.

 



Sue Spayth Riley and John Stix rehearsing Macbeth. 
Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, 
Black Mountain College Papers
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