Nicholas Rudall, Court Theater founding director, dead at 78

Nicholas Rudall – Courtesy of Court Theater

Staff Writer

Nicholas Rudall, a University of Chicago professor who led the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., to become the only professional theater on the South Side, died June 19 at his daughter’s home in Tuscon, Arizona, according to a release from the U. of C.

He was born in 1940 in Llanelli, Wales, a coastal town near Swansea, and first encountered the stage in boarding school. After receiving a doctorate from Cornell University, he became a U. of C. professor in 1966. His academic speciality was Ancient Greek drama and translation.

While the Court Theatre preexisted as a community drama festival, U. of C. President Edward H. Levi tasked Rudall with turning it into a professional theater in 1970. He became artistic director in 1972, a role he held until 1994, and directed and acted in several Court plays over the years. He played an instrumental role in the 1981 construction of a permanent theater.

“He was wonderful,” said Sarah Nooter, a U. of C. classics professor. “He basically created the Court Theatre. People who organize events just loved to have him in the room, because he was so full of joy and life. He just brought people into a love of theater.”

Rudell retired from teaching in 2006, and Court established an endowed fund in his name last year.