Landon Coleman, of Decatur, GA, died June 23, 2004. He was a graduate of Principia College and Southern Illinois University, and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brown University. The author and producer of several award-winning plays, Landon was also a distinguished professor of humanities and fine arts at Georgia Perimeter College, Principia College, and other schools in Rhode Island and New York. His stage work was performed in Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Rome, Italy. He is survived by his close friends: Sheri Disler and Noey Barrera and their son "favorite nephew" Todd; Mark and Marti Nunes, and their sons Matthew and Joshua; Bruce Hornbuckle, and many others across the country and in the U.K. A memorial service is planned at A.S. Turner and Sons Funeral Home in Decatur, GA at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 8, 2004. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Landon's name to Project Open Hand, Atlanta.
-Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 5, 2004
DECATUR: Landon Coleman, master playwright
By J.E. GESHWILER
Landon Coleman was a playwright who had the good fortune to have a muse for a constant companion.
As he said in a winter 2000 interview in the Georgia Perimeter College magazine Chronicle:
"I can be walking down the street or working out at the gym and see my characters and hear them talking in my head. My plays just happen."
And having "happened," they were performed and appreciated --- at the college itself, plus in Chicago, Washington, New York City, even in Rome --- in English and Italian versions.
For 12 years he also was an associate professor at the college, teaching speech, English and, naturally, drama. Twice he received the President's Award for outstanding achievement as a faculty member.
"Landon Coleman had phenomenal creative energy. Our students learned from a master of his craft," said Dr. Jacquelyn Belcher of Conyers, president of the college. "He also was a great help to me writing speeches and suggesting visual presentations to win public attention for our school."
The memorial service for Mr. Coleman, 50, of Decatur is 7 p.m. Thursday at A.S. Turner & Sons. He died June 23 of liver disease at the
University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital in Birmingham. The body was cremated.
Among his honored works were "Childes' Play," winner of the 1991 Paul T. Nolan Prize; "In Harmes' Way," winner of the 1992 Morton Sarret competition; "Beyond the Pale," the 1994 Max Mazumdar National Play Award, and "Picture This," which was nominated for the 1999 Joseph Jefferson Award (the Chicago equivalent of the Tony award) and was produced later in Rome.
"Landon had a strong sense of the dynamics of character interaction and conflict. His plays used the stage to explore ethical dilemmas," said Dr. Mark Nunes of Avondale Estates, chairman of the college's Humanities Department.
"In one of his plays, 'In Harmes' Way,' its four characters are interchangeable during four sections of the play, demonstrating how impressions of a scene can change depending on the character's race, gender or sexuality but also showing what basic themes are unaffected by character change," Dr. Nunes said.
"In 'Picture This,' a surreal two-person play, he explored the second thoughts of a photographer who took a prize-winning picture of a woman on fire with no thought at the time to her suffering.
" 'Beyond the Pale' tells the story of a black man who is arrested on a charge of sexual assault and escapes. He then decides the ethical response for him is to abide by the law and turn himself in, even though he knows he is innocent and will likely be killed --- just as Socrates chose the hemlock rather than escaping death," Dr. Nunes said.
"As a teacher, Landon had high standards and was demanding. He had a passion for wanting his students to know what he knew," said a retired colleague, Susan Thomas of Decatur. "He set an example for classroom decorum. He was formal both in manner and in dress."
Mr. Coleman had no immediate survivors.
- Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 7, 2004