Clayton State Theatre founder dies at 71



The founder of the Clayton State University Theatre, Larry Corse, died Thursday, Dec. 8, at the age of 71.

John Shiffert, director of university relations, said Corse established the Clayton State Theatre in 1972, and was its artistic director for 31 years, before retiring in June of 2003.

“Corse was an extremely important part of the university,” Shiffert said. Normally, the university does not acknowledge the death of a retired teacher, who has been gone from the university as long Corse has, but Shiffert said university officials wanted to acknowledge his significant contribution.

“Kind of the end of an era,” said Phillip DePoy, current Clayton State Theatre director. “He did carry water for our institution for so many years, and was a presence in Atlanta theater in general.”

Corse joined the Clayton State family in 1972, as an English professor. “For 31 theater seasons, Corse was committed to both student actors/actresses, and aspiring playwrights,” said Shiffert.

He was part of several theater productions, including “The Day it Rained Forever,” by science fiction author Ray Bradbury and composer William Whitefield, and the play, “Your Name in Bold,” by former Clayton State Biology Professor Greg Hampikian.

“In total, Clayton State Theatre premiered 34 new works under his direction,” Shiffert said.

The last show Shiffert remembers Corse directing was in the spring of 2003. It was Christopher Durang’s parody, “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,” which was part of the larger production, “Short, Short, Really Short Redux,” Shiffert said.

“This production marked show number 216 of the Clayton State Theatre,” he added. “And its closing night marked the 1,009th performance on the Clayton State stage under Corse’s direction.”

Corse was a native of Tyler, Texas. He has four degrees from North Texas State University, including a bachelor’s degree in music education, a master’s in music theory, a master’s degree in English, and a doctorate in English Renaissance, according to Shiffert.

Corse entered academia as choir director at Randolph High School, located on Texas’ Randolph Air Force Base in the 1960s. Later, he taught both choir and English at Bailey Junior High, part of an Independent School District in Arlington, Texas.

Before teaching at Clayton State, he served as a Teaching Fellow, instructing freshman English, at North Texas State, until 1972.

Shiffert said a memorial service for Corse will be announced at a later date. However, online condolences can be added at www.csog.com.