Atlanta theater lost its biggest fan and one of its most inspirational participant on Saturday with the death of Gene-Gabriel Moore at 72. A former actor and journalist, Moore struggled with speech defects following a stroke, but never let ill health impede his fondness for theater, whether on-stage, back stage or in the audience. I profiled Moore in a 2002 feature story, "The Show Must Go On," in which he recounted tales of his impoverished childhood in Cabbagetown, his attempts to launch a career as a New York actor in the 1950s, his most memorable literary interviews as a TV broadcaster and his more recent history:
In the last 10 years, he's survived a tumor on his brain stem, a ruptured aorta, multiple strokes and 11 surgeries. But instead of slowing down, Moore has speeded up. In 1998 he founded Not Merely Players, an Atlanta theater company primarily by and for theater artists with disabilities, for which he serves as artistic director. He's also developing his own plays, researching a history of Atlanta theater, serving on the Fulton County Commission on Disability Affairs and preparing for his first stage roles in two decades.
Since that story, Moore founded The Suzi Bass Awards for Atlanta theater and performed at 7 Stages in Jean Claude van Itallie's monologue, Struck Dumb, which served as his theatrical swan song. Moore was feisty, avuncular figure familiar at opening nights and on the Atlanta Theatre Mailing List Yahoo Group, which has been filled with reminiscences since the announcement of his death on Monday. The Atlanta theater scene will not be the same without him.
Photo by Jim Stawniak
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