William “Bill” Francisco, professor of theater, emeritus, died on Friday, Nov. 22, at the age of 86.
Francisco received his BA from Amherst College in 1955, and his MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1958. He joined the Wesleyan faculty as an artist-in-residence in 1974 and as an associate professor in 1975. He taught theater here for 28 years until he retired in 2002.
Francisco was an active director throughout his career, working in theater, opera, television, and film. He directed productions off-Broadway, at Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, San Francisco Opera, and many other prominent theaters across the U.S. and Canada. At Wesleyan, in addition to directing productions, he taught courses in voice, acting, and directing. He also taught a number of interdisciplinary workshops, including a screenwriting workshop with Kit Reed.
His colleague, Gay Smith, professor of theater, emerita, said: “What a gifted director! His productions of Waiting for Godot, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, and Évita are emblazoned in my memory, as I’m sure they are in the memories of his students, his most renowned and grateful for Bill’s tutoring being Lin-Manuel Miranda.”
Jack Carr, professor of theater, emeritus, said: “When I think back on my time with Bill, I immediately recall how he invested himself totally, intellectually and emotionally, in every production he directed and every student he mentored… He was the most inventive, innovative and inspiring director with whom I have ever collaborated. Bill also was a most supportive and loyal colleague/friend. I miss him every day.”
Francisco is survived by his nephew, Aaron Francisco and Aaron’s wife, Jennifer.