The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Robert Walter

Robert Walter

Stage Manager
Born on Sunday, December 16, 1945

Interviewed on: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #82
"I was the first naked stage manager on Broadway."
Robert Walter Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 52 seconds
Robert Walter Interview
Video Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes

Robert Walter’s New York theatre career began in stage management, and he went on to stage manage, produce, write, and direct both in New York City and across the United States. He has worked as the production stage manager on such Off-Broadway shows as CRAZY NOW: A MUSICAL REVIEW (1972) at the Orpheum Theater and THE BECKETT FESTIVAL (1972) at Lincoln Center’s Forum Theatre, which starred Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Walter had a close relationship with Cronyn and Tandy and worked with them on a number of projects. He conceived, wrote, and directed HAIKU: AN ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTRUCTION ON THE WORDS OF THE GODS AND OTHER POETS, which opened at the AMAS Repertory Theatre in 1975. Walter also wrote DETAILS (OF THE 16TH FRAME), which premiered at Theater of the Open Eye in 1980.

Walter was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. While attending Northwestern University in the late 1960’s, he started a theatre company and coffee house called The Abyss. He went on to co-found the Aspen Theatre Institute and was a Ford Foundation Fellow working on an M.F.A. in directing at Stanford University. Walter has a number of Broadway credits, most (in)famously as Broadway’s first naked stage manager in Let My People Come(1976). He was also the production stage manager for A Streetcar Named Desire (1973) and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Sherlock Holmes (1975). Walter has also been an advocate for theatre education; at his son’s school in California, he started a program called KidTech, in which elementary and middle school students learned technical crafts in theatre and filmmaking. He is co- founder and current president of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate the legacy of renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell.

Mentioned in Interview

Jean Erdman, Jules Fisher, Ellis Rabb, Joseph Campbell, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Rosetta LeNoire, Harry Chapin, Ellen Stewart, LaMama E.T.C., AMAS Repertory Musical Theater, Theater of the Open Eye, Lincoln Center Theater, The Village Gate, LET MY PEOPLE COME, HAIKU, DETAILS OF THE 16TH FRAME, CRAZY NOW, NOT I