We've moved! The School of Drama operations are relocating to Condon Hall until Summer 2024, while Hutchinson Hall undergoes seismic upgrades. See additional information.

You are here

Remembering Professor Emeritus Barry Bates Witham (Update! Celebration of Life Service information below)

Submitted by Courtney D Clark on January 5, 2023 - 11:03am
Man holding trophy.

Family Requested Notice:

Celebration of Life Service for Professor Emeritus Barry Whitham will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, 2023.


Emerald Heights.

10901 176th Circle NE

Redmond, WA, 98052

For more information and details please contact Emerald Heights at 425.556.8100

"My Job is to help them figure out what they think the truth is." -Barry Bates Witham

Barry Bates Witham (December 11, 1939 - December 26, 2022)

The School of Drama community mourns the great loss of Professor Emeritus Barry Witham.

     Barry began his 29-year tenure with the School of Drama on September 16, 1979, as an Assistant Professor and became Professor Emeritus in 2008 when he retired from teaching.  He served as the Executive Director of the School of Drama from 1989-1994 and was the first professional dramaturg for the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1983.

     Barry was an outstanding educator and was recognized both locally and nationally, receiving the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002 and the Betty Jean Jones prize for “outstanding teaching in American theatre and drama” in 2003.  He was inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 1998.

     His contributions to theater history and scholarship and his impact on helping students and future educators to understand theater’s relationship to the “bigger picture” has been immeasurable.

     In 2008, Barry established the Witham Endowment for Drama Research, providing critical funding for UW School of Drama students. Since then, this prestigious fund has supported students' direct expenses to carry out research or production work by visiting out-of-state or foreign archives, research collections, museums, universities, or professional theatres. Barry found these experiences to be invaluable and often spoke about how life-changing these opportunities were for his students. To donate to the Witham Endowment for Drama Research Fund in Barry’s name, please click the link here or call 877-894-4387.

     A colleague and longtime friend, UW Theatre History Professor, Odai Johnson shared “Barry was generous with students and his institutions, from his own undergraduate years at Tufts, which he fondly recalled, to his ongoing support of students here at the University of Washington with his named endowment.” “His role was always to help others, to get them to ask the questions that would launch them into their own fields of study.”    

     Barry's work as a scholar was prodigious and prolific, publishing 4 books, 10 book chapters, 30 scholarly articles, 21 book reviews, 21 plus scholarly papers, and 15 program essays to name a few.

     Professor Johnson went on to say, “His field was the important political theatre of mid-century America, theatre of engagement, the labor movement, the Worker’s Theatre, the Federal Theatre Project, and its legacy.” “His scope was large, and he directed the eyes of students to the big issues behind the smallest of plays.”   “His office door was always open, and he was always present as a colleague, a mentor, and a friend.”

     While we celebrate Barry’s life and career, our deepest sympathy goes out to Barry’s family, friends, and all who were fortunate enough to know him.