Stephen Cole

For nearly 40 years as a professor in Cornell’s Department of Theater, Film, and Dance, Stephen Cole trained scores of fledgling young actors. Cole was a pioneer in the field and a dedicated teacher, committed to his students’ personal growth as much as their technical training. Educated at the University of Iowa and Indiana University, Cole taught or performed at places such as the University of Nebraska and Ohio State University before coming to Cornell in 1968, where he became the director of one the nation’s first acting MFA programs.

In addition to co-founding the Ithaca Repertory Theater (now the Hangar Theater), Cole trained well-known actors such as Christopher Reeve, Catherine Hicks, and Jimmy Smits. His approach to teaching is holistic, incorporating psychology as well as characterology and biomechanics.

His unique approach to teaching was in part informed by his graduate study as well as his personal spiritual life. After a heart transplant in 1995, Cole became involved in the IM School of Healing Arts, a spiritual and healing learning center with campuses in Ithaca and New York City. He drew a parallel between his work as a teacher at the IM School and his career as an acting teacher.

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