Long-time ACU theatre professor dies in Abilene
For immediate release
Dr. Lewis Fulks, long-time Abilene Christian University theatre professor and director of Homecoming musicals for more than 30 years, died Friday afternoon at Hendrick Medical Center after a long illness.
Fulks is survived by his wife, Jerelene "Jerry" Warren Fulks, whom he met at ACU and married Dec. 15, 1949. He graduated from ACU in 1948, and the university presented him with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1990. Fulks was often called "the father of theatre at Abilene Christian University." A memorial service is scheduled Tuesday at 2 p.m. at University Church of Christ.
After earning his B.A. from ACU in 1948, he earned an M.A. in drama from the University of Southern California. He completed all the coursework for a doctorate but never stopped producing shows long enough to write his dissertation. Fulks served as an ACU theatre professor and chair of the theatre department, and he taught the popular "Film Appreciation" class for many years.
Fulks designed the sets for the first Homecoming musical, the "Wizard of Oz," in 1958, and began directing the musicals in 1961, with "The King and I." He designed and directed the 50th anniversary pageant, "A City Set on a Hill, in 1956, and co-authored the lyrics and designed/directed the 75th anniversary musical pageant, "Like Stars Shining Brightly," in 1981. He started ACU's children theatre program, and began the Shakespeare tradition in 1990 with "Othello."
The shows he produced were so successful that ticket sales paid for the productions and some of the salaries of theatre faculty and staff.
Fulks' final production - the 187th of his career - was the Homecoming musical for the fall of 1990, "Man of La Mancha." When he reviewed his records after retirement, he found that between 1948 and 1990, more than 500,000 patrons had seen his shows.
Lewis was especially proud of the contributions of ACU students to the successful theatre program. He created made-to-scale models for many of the more than 400 sets, and he worked alongside students as they built the huge, intricate sets - some three stories tall weighing thousands of pounds. Students sewed costumes for almost all of the productions, and they learned about every aspect of backstage preparation as well as the art of acting. They created realistic home interiors, medieval sets, cityscapes and hundreds of other settings. Some of the set designs and production concepts were at least 20 years ahead of Broadway.
Fulks Theatre, the 325-seat thrust-stage theatre in ACU's new Williams Performing Arts Center, was named for him, as well as the Lewis and Jerry Fulks Distinguished Professorship in Theatre Arts, which was created in 1987.
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