In Memoriam: Don Drapeau


Don Drapeau, a former President of NAST, passed away on November 18, 2021, in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was 81 years old. He arrived at Virginia Tech in 1967 to start the Department of Theatre with Tony Distler. He was a graduate of High Point College and the University of Connecticut, where he received its first graduate degree in theatre. In NAST, Drapeau was active as an evaluator, consultant, and presenter. He was elected by his NAST peers to a number of offices, including member of the Board of Directors, Vice President, and President, serving in that office from 2002 to 2005. He was a regional and national leader in many other theatre and arts organizations and regularly honored for his service and achievements.

Don Drapeau was a man of sunshine: he radiated and reflected it; he carried it around and distributed it; he was thankful for it and said so, and brought others to his perspective as much as he could. He thought theatre the most wonderful gift, and he wanted everyone to be educated, inspired, and blessed by it. This love of his field and its people and institutions powered his energetic attention no matter what the circumstances. It vivified his analytical and organizational skills as well. Able to combine high artistic and educational standards with heartfelt consideration for others, he found wisdom and became ever wiser, ever more respected as a colleague, counselor, teacher, and mentor. He was also a man of broad perspective. He had a creative sense of reality based on understanding and synthesizing all he was able to see. This sense kept him centered on cooperation and service, and brought him to deep insights which he shared with humility and many smiles.

NAST was fortunate to have Don Drapeau’s support from its earliest days. He thought the Association would help the field he loved by providing a virtually unique type of national support for theatre programs in higher education as each local faculty and administration worked for excellence and continuous improvement. Whatever the circumstances, he acted to bring this vision to reality. His participation helped build NAST and its capabilities. His leadership moved NAST to higher plateaus of sophistication and cooperation. The Association and its members are extremely grateful.