Alan Symonds, technical director for Harvard College's Theatre Programs and Office for the Arts, passed away from a heart attack on Tuesday, June 20 while at work at his beloved Agassiz Theatre. He was 59.
Mr. Symonds was a member of the USITT for many years. He was a fixture in the organization, one of those people who was always there, always ready to lend a hand and always prepared to tell a great story or recount an experience. His knowledge of technical theatre was extensive, and he seemed to be able to engineer anything. Mr. Symonds was always teaching his professional colleagues about technical theatre and safety -- clearly his passions.
He will be remembered as a kind, gentle, genuine, and loving soul. He cared so much for theatre and loved to teach, to share his knowledge. His smile was infectious and he was never without it.
It is hard to imagine one more meeting without him being there, sitting quietly, smiling, contributing when it was crucial for him to speak up. His depth of knowledge never ceased to amaze us. He was a great colleague, a great friend, and a truly caring person to everyone he knew.
Mr. Symonds' lighting work was seen everywhere from the Boston Ballet to Beacon Hill's Old West Church, which he lit in 2003. In the 1980s, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America honored him for his lighting design of the Smart Machines robot theatre at the Computer Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. He worked with hundreds of student designers on productions in Harvard's formal and informal spaces in addition to his own design works.
His survivors include a brother, Robin, of Dijon, France. A memorial service at Harvard is planned for the fall; the date and location will be announced on a website and elsewhere later in the summer as plans take shape.