Benjamin Compton


Died July 30, 1986

College: Silliman

I knew Ben Compton when we were undergraduates, and in a couple of summers between those years at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, in Massachusetts. I knew him only when we were both working in theatres. Ben worked in the producion end of theatres, and he was very, very hardworking and dedicated. Clearly he loved theatre with all his heart and soul, and one day, at Williamstown, I got the beginnings on an insight into why he loved it. Ben and one of the actors there were arguing about the character of Jim, the Gentleman Caller in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The actor was convinced that Jim was an insensitive boor. Ben argued passionately — and convincingly — that Jim could not be dismissed that simply, that he was rather a lost soul, trying to reach out to a desperately shy girl he knew to be in love with him without breaking her heart.

It struck me, right then: this was a major source of Ben’s devotion to theatre and why he worked so selflessly at it. Ben loved the capacity the theatre could have to arouse compassion in the audience, compassion for all different kinds of people. Now, there are many reasons why people go into the theatre, but Ben’s was an exceptionally beautiful one, and it revealed the beauty of his heart and soul. His comparatively early passing was a loss to everybody who knew him and worked with him.

— by Austin Pendleton