Theatre Worldwide

Obituary of Joel E. Rubin

Apr 26, 2024

Photo Credit: Pat MacKay

With great sadness and sorrow, we announce the passing of Dr. Joel E. Rubin, a foundational pillar of our organization and an unwavering advocate for global theatre arts, on March 27, 2024, at the age of 95.

Born on September 5, 1928, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Rubin's illustrious career in theatre technology and design spanned several decades, influencing both educational practices and professional standards across continents. As a visionary leader, his contributions have profoundly shaped the landscape of international theatre practice.

Dr. Rubin was instrumental in the founding of OISTAT during the late 1960s, serving as President and Vice President from 1968 to 1979, and was a pivotal member of the Executive Committee from 1991 to 1993. His leadership during OISTAT's formative years was crucial in bridging the gap between the "East" and "West" during the Cold War era, fostering a spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding that transcended political and cultural boundaries through the universal language of theatre.

Under his guidance, OISTAT thrived as a forum for international dialogue, exchange and collaborations. His personal efforts in promoting OISTAT values in the US and his pivotal role in founding the OISTAT USA Centre, United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), exemplified his commitment to enhancing the international theatre community.

Among his numerous accolades, Dr. Rubin was honored with the OISTAT Gold Key for his exceptional leadership and contributions. His leadership at the Prague Quadrennial in 1987 and 1991, where the US exhibitions he co-led won top honors, underscored his exceptional talent and dedication to advancing theatre design internationally.

Beyond organizational leadership, Dr. Rubin's scholarly contributions, including his seminal dissertation on the technical development of stage lighting and his co-authored book on theatrical lighting practices, continue to influence educational programs and professional practices around the world.

As we mourn Dr. Joel E. Rubin's passing, we also celebrate his remarkable life and enduring legacy—a legacy of enriching the global theatre community through education, innovation, and collaboration. His passion, vision, and leadership have immeasurably enriched OISTAT and the international theatre landscape.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family, colleagues, and the countless individuals he inspired. In memory of Dr. Rubin, we reaffirm our commitment to advancing the mission of OISTAT, inspired by his vision of a collaborative and inclusive global theatre community. Dr. Rubin’s spirit will forever guide our endeavors to unite the world through the performing arts.

In his memory, we echo one of his favorite toasts, "STO LOT"—to the next hundred years, celebrating the enduring spirit of global community and shared artistic passion. His legacy will continue to inspire and influence future generations of theatre practitioners and enthusiasts worldwide.