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Beyer, Bud



  • Existence: 1940 - 2018


Bud Beyer was born on January 29, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois.  In the late 1940s, his father, an Olympic gymnastics coach, and coach of the gymnastics team at the University of Chicago, formed Acrotheater, a performance organization that combined gymnastics, acrobatics, adagio and story telling.  At age 8, Beyer became a member of Acrotheater as it rose to national prominence, highlighted with an article and photos in Life Magazine and a documentary by Fox Films.  In 1955, Beyer joined the staff of WTTW, the educational television station in Chicago, first as a volunteer crew member, and the following year hired as a Floor Director. At seventeen, he graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School and entered Northwestern University that September. Seeing Marcel Marceau perform in 1956, Beyer cultivated a love for mime while in high school, and in 1959 while a student at Northwestern, Beyer traveled to New York City to study with Etienne Decroux, the teacher of Marcel Marceau.  In the summer of 1958, after his freshman year at Northwestern, Beyer was given an Equity contract and hired as a stage manager at the Lake Sunapee Playhouse in Georges Mills, New Hampshire. He continued his work as a stage manager/actor for the next several summers. While still a student at Northwestern, Beyer also served as a teacher in acting and mime for Northwestern's National High School Institute.  During his years at Northwestern, Beyer toured professionally throughout the Midwest as a solo mime.  Beyer graduated from Northwestern University's School of Speech in August of 1965, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Theatre.

Beyer taught acting and mime for two years at Loyola University of Chicago before joining the faculty of Northwestern University in 1972, where he remained until his retirement in 2008. An incredibly popular professor, Beyer also founded the Loyola Mime Company and the Northwestern University Mime Company.

After taking his degree, Beyer held positions as the coordinator of the drama department for two years at Operation Area Arts in Green Bay, Wisconsin and as head of the theater school and director at St. Alban's Repertory Theatre in Washington, D.C.  Beyer also served a year-long residency at Colby Junior College in New London, New Hampshire.  Loyola University of Chicago hired Beyer as an artist-in-residence in 1970. In his two years at Loyola, he taught an advanced acting course and conceived and taught a two-year program in movement and voice. Beyer also formed the Loyola Mime Company, a performance group which toured through the Midwest (Box 3, Folders 5-10). Also during this period, Beyer took a group of his students to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania to study acting with his teacher, the celebrated Northwestern University Professor, Alvina Krause.  He also maintained his Northwestern connections by serving as a guest artist and director in the Northwestern University Summer Theatre Festivals.

Loyola canceled its artist-in-residency program after the 1971-1972 academic year.  The magazine of the school's student newspaper, the Loyola Phoenix, even devoted a good portion of one of its issues to an examination of the department when Beyer left the school (Box 3, Folder 5).

In 1972, Beyer was hired by Northwestern University as an assistant professor in Acting and quickly established the Northwestern University Mime Company. During its first nine years, the company gave performances around the Midwest and traveled to Poland as Friendship Ambassadors in the summer of 1978 (Box 4, Folder 3). The company disbanded in the early 1980s, but Beyer continued to give mime performances at Northwestern and to tutor individual students. The Company re-formed in 1998 and gave performances and workshops across the Midwest, including a yearly performance on the mainstage at Northwestern.  In the summer of 2002, the Company spent a month performing daily at the Festival d'Avignon in Avignon, France (Box 3, Folder 11).

Beyer was an active member of the Northwestern Theatre Department faculty, teaching courses and directing shows and working with Waa-Mu as the director of dialogue sketches.  By 1983, he had become a tenured full professor and served as department chairman from 1989 to 2002. In 1981, Beyer directed the Northwestern production of Swansong for a Unicorn, a play written by student Sarah Nemeth.  The play won Best Production and Best New Play awards at a regional competition and was one of six college productions selected to perform at the 13th American College Theater Festival held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. (Box 23, Folders 7-9). The play, about an Alabama woman being forced out of her home by the construction of a dam, received favorable reviews from a number of critics in Washington.  Beyer directed nearly 30 productions in his tenure at Northwestern, including Our Town (Box 21, Folders 5-11), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Box 24, Folders 7-11) and Les Liaisons Dangerouses (Box 19, Folders 17-21; Box 20, Folder 1).

In recognition of his teaching skills Beyer won a place on the Northwestern University Associated Student Government's Faculty Honor Roll in 1982. He earned the Faculty First Circle Award in 1991 for his involvement in alumni programming for Northwestern.

Beyer found time to pursue ventures outside the university. A member of SAG, AEA, and AFTRA, Beyer has professional credits as an actor, director, and theatre manager, and has taught intensive scene study for professional actors in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. He acted in national advertising campaigns, appeared in the TV movie The Duke with Robert Conrad, and consulted with several corporations and organizations. He has conducted workshops in mime and acting for colleges, universities and festivals across the United States and published, with Charlotte Lee, Speaking of Theatre, Scott Foresman and Company (1974). He was also featured in The New Generation of Acting Teachers written by Eva Meckler (1988) and Acting Teachers of America, a vital tradition by Ronald Rand and Luigi Scorcia (2007).

For the 25 years before retirement as a professor of Theatre, Beyer presented lectures and workshops on gesture and movement for orchestral and band conductors throughout the country. The work with conductors began with a request from John Paynter, Northwestern's legendary Band Director. Mr. Paynter had Beyer give yearly workshops in the conducting classes and encouraged his participation in clinics around the country.  Eventually, Beyer gave yearly residencies at the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens-Point, and gave clinics for University of Washington and WASBE (World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles) and the Texas and West Virginia music educators' associations (Box 14, Folders 6-7; Box 15, Folder 1).  In the Spring of 2008 at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, Norway, Beyer gave a week-long residency working with musicians on performance issues, and presented a keynote address titled Fires in the Glacier.

In September of 2008, Beyer retired from the Northwestern faculty as an Emeritus Professor of Theatre.

In recent years, Beyer has been working with professional musicians, and has given workshops for entire orchestras, singers, instrumentalists and conductors in Norway. He is working with the Grieg Academy in Bergen, and with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra in Oslo, exploring new approaches to the training of musicians and the performance of music. A Norwegian research and performance project, EUIPAF, The Explosive, Unforeseeable Instant of Musical Performance: Applications and Foundations, will examine artistic projects in collaboration with Beyer and his concepts and process for emotional connection within the framework of musical interpretation and performance.  A thirty-minute documentary of his work, Smile, you have an audience, is available on Norwegian Educational Television.

In 2013, Beyer wrote Sirkelen Sluttes: Bevisstgjøring og Endring i Formidling av Musikk, published in Norwegian through Universitetsforlaget in Oslo.  In January of 2014, he directed a project with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.  The final performance was an acclaimed production of Verklärte Nacht Opus 4 (1899) by Schoenberg. This work will be followed with a new production with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra of Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen für 23 Solostreicher (1944-45) in the Spring of 2015.

In 2014, GIA Publications, Inc in Chicago, Illinois published Beyer's book, Completing the Circle: Considerations for Change in the Performance of Music.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Bud Beyer (1940-) Papers

Identifier: 20/70

The Papers of Bud Beyer, NU alumnus and long-time (1972-2008) faculty member at NU's School of Communication, include biographical files, teaching materials, professional activities, and shows. The bulk of the collection consists of  notes, scripts and clippings from Beyer's work as a mime instructor and from theatrical productions he directed.

Dates: 1956-2012; Other: Majority of material found within 1970 - 2000