Omar Paxson


Omar Paxson’s (’48) interest in theater began during the second world war when he was sent to LSU to train as an army engineer - but watched rehearsals in the theater department instead. On leave in London after fighting on the front lines, Omar  "saw the young Lawrence Olivier and Ralph Richardson in Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2… and Dame Edith Evans in The Rivals" and the love affair was on. He matriculated at Oxy after the war, earning a B.A., then went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D from Northwestern. He retuned to Oxy as a faculty member in 1950 and created the Hillside Repertory Company (known in Oxy lingo as "Summer Theater") in 1960. He directed the department and the company until he retired in 1985.  In all, Omar directed 74 plays at Oxy, mostly in Thorne Hall, "9 Shakespeare, 12 Shaw, all of Chekov, Ibsen, Aristophanes, you name it." Omar wrote his first play in the 5th grade – "a wretched thing on the Black Death, but Miss Peters thought it was pretty wonderful." In his adult life, he was written 22 pieces for the stage -12 since his retirement. Several works written during his tenure at Oxy were regional winners in the American College Theater Festival, with The Ballad of Sanki Mercer going on to win the national title at the Kennedy Center. Let’s All Be Married was written in 2008. Other current projects include With War Have Done, an anti-war drama, and Sally’s Paper, which explores a pro gun control argument. This year, Omar is celebrating his 90th birthday.