Oran San­del, teacher and theater di­rec­tor

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - — Bart Barnes, The Wash­ing­ton Post

Oran San­del, an ac­tor, teacher and ed­u­ca­tor who for­merly di­rected Liv­ing Stage Theatre Com­pany, a com­mu­nity out­reach arm of Wash­ing­ton’s Arena Stage, died Oct. 19 at his home in Sil­ver Spring. He was 64.

The cause was melanoma, said his wife, Roberta Gas­barre, artis­tic di­rec­tor of Wash­ing­ton Revels and di­rec­tor of the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tu­tion’s Discovery Theater.

For 24 years, in­clud­ing six years as co-di­rec­tor and di­rec­tor be­fore step­ping down in 2001, Mr. San­del was a Liv­ing Stage staffer, act­ing and di­rect­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tional dra­mas at sites that in­cluded preschools, se­nior cen­ters, pris­ons and fa­cil­i­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Dur­ing that time, he helped found a pro­gram called Chil­dren First, aimed at train­ing and sen­si­tiz­ing preschool teach­ers to the tech­niques of learn­ing through dra­matic arts.

“Oran San­del’s work­shops and train­ings touched hun­dreds of stu­dents and teach­ers,” Jane Fre­un­del Levey, man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Wash­ing­ton’s Wash­ing­ton His­tory mag­a­zine, said in an email. “He ex­posed them to the cre­ative process of im­pro­vi­sa­tion and the sheer joy of play­ing.”

Oran Ge­orge San­del was born in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 22, 1951. The son of a For­eign Ser­vice of­fi­cer, he grew up in Brazil and Cam­bo­dia.

He grad­u­ated in 1974 from the Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica in Wash­ing­ton and for sev­eral years acted in com­mu­nity theater pro­duc­tions through­out the area, join­ing Liv­ing Stage in 1977.

Typ­i­cally, a troupe of four to six ac­tors would im­pro­vise a per­for­mance be­fore an au­di­ence and then in­vite au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion. At a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity in Lor­ton, Va., he put on shows that gave in­mates an op­por­tu­nity to voice their feel­ings and con­cerns, and it led to the es­tab­lish­ment of a prison theater com­pany.

Other au­di­ences might see themes acted out such as drug abuse, teenage sui­cide or preg­nancy, men­tal ill­ness or racism.

After Liv­ing Stage was phased out in 2002, Mr. San­del be­came an in­de­pen­dent ed­u­ca­tional theater artist, work­ing with a va­ri­ety of groups and schools. In Jan­uary 2015, he was di­ag­nosed with melanoma and given three months to live. For al­most two years he sur­vived, blog­ging reg­u­larly about the dis­ease.

Sur­vivors in­clude his wife of 34 years and two chil­dren, Cae­lyn Gas­barre San­del of Bos­ton and Jamie San­del of Sil­ver Spring.

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