Idyllwild Arts' Renaissance Man

Published : Friday, June 9, 2017 | 12:09 PM

“Most of the buildings here now weren’t here when I arrived in 1993,” Andrew Leeson recalls. “There were no paved roads on campus and Krone Library didn’t exist.”

Although there was no Krone Library when he began his twenty-four years at Idyllwild Arts, there was a Krone: Idyllwild Arts Foundation co-founder Bee Krone was retired but, at age ninety-one, still living on campus.

“She was a very gracious lady.”

Unlike Bonnie Parker, crime celebrity and paramour of the notorious Clyde Barrow, the subjects of Bonnie & Clyde (https://www.bonnieandclydehollywood.com/), directed by Andrew and opening June 16 at The Hudson Theatres, in Los Angeles.

Andrew’s talents transcend directing for the stage. He was “an actor, a location scout—you name it—helping to make low-budget art movies” in Yorkshire, in the North of England, when Idyllwild Arts Summer Program Director Steve Fraider heard about him.

“Steve told me that I sounded perfect for Idyllwild.”

Andrew’s native Yorkshire bears little resemblance to Southern California, yet he was well prepared.

“California is portrayed so accurately in the movies that it was exactly what I’d expected.”

And despite the fact that Steve hadn’t met Andrew, the new recruit from Yorkshire turned out to be exactly what he’d wanted: an artist/scholar with a passion for learning both broadly and deeply. Is “Renaissance Man” a cliché? But how else to describe Andrew, who has taught a vast range of subjects, including Theatre and even, for the Humanities Department, Government/Economics?

He also taught Creative Writing “for eleven years, on and off—at first because it had been a one-man department and the one man wanted a day off.”

Andrew is devoted above all to the Victorians.

“But I’ve tried to make students aware of the heritage of English writing all the way from the seventh century, with the Hymn of Cædmon—the oldest recorded Old English poem—to contemporary masters of fiction like Graham Swift.”

As his students know, Andrew’s passion for literature never takes a day off.

Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild, CA 92549-0038, (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

 

 

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