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Vance, Nina (1914–1980)

Vance, Nina (1914–1980)

American theatrical producer and director. Born Nina Eloise Whittington, Oct 22, 1914, in Yoakum, Texas; died in Houston, Texas, Feb 18, 1980; only dau. of Calvin Perry Whittington (cotton broker) and Minerva (DeWitt) Whittington; Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, BA in public speaking, 1935; postgraduate work at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, 1935, American Academy of Dramatic Art, and Columbia University, 1936; m. Milton Vance (lawyer), Aug 30, 1941 (div. 1960); no children.

Director and producer who founded the Alley Theater in Houston, helping to spawn the nationwide movement that revolutionized theater and cultural life in America; was founder and artistic director of Houston Jewish Community Center's Players Guild (1945–47); was founder and artistic director of Alley Theater (1947–80); was active in Theater Communications Group (TCG), 1st as a member of its advisory board and later on its executive committee (1961–71); invited by President John F. Kennedy to serve on advisory committee for proposed National Center for the Performing Arts (1961); appointed to US Advisory Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs (1963); produced US premiere of Mikhail Roschin's Echelon, directed by Galina Volchek of Moscow's Sovremenik Theater, the 1st collaboration between a US and Soviet theater (1978); directed over 125 plays during course of career, including the highly acclaimed Eugene O'Neill's Desire under the Elms (1949) and The Iceman Cometh (1959), and Edward Albee's Tiny Alice (1976); world premieres include Ronald Alexander's Season with Ginger (1950), James Lee's Career (1956), Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1965), and Shirley Lauro's The Contest (1975). Recognized by American Theater Association as a pioneer in the field of resident professional theater (1975).

See also N. J. Stanley, "Nina Vance: Founder and Artistic Director of Houston's Alley Theatre, 1947–1980" (PhD diss., Indiana University, 1990); and Women in World History.

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