Patricia S. Hook

Anne Arundel Schoolteacher Was Also Professional Puppeteer, Actor In One-woman Shows And Theater Critic

February 01, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Patricia S. Hook, a retired Anne Arundel County public school educator who was also a puppeteer, actor and longtime freelance theater and music critic, died Jan. 25 from complications of Parkinson's disease at Hospice of the Chesapeake's Mandarin House in Harwood.

She was 77 and had lived in the Ferry Farm neighborhood near Annapolis.

Patricia Ann Shipley was born in Baltimore and raised in the 900 block of W. University Parkway.

After graduating from Eastern High School, Mrs. Hook earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in literature from the Johns Hopkins University.

Mrs. Hook's interest in the theater began in her youth when she appeared in productions staged by the Paint and Powder Club.

She was also a professional puppeteer who wrote widely on puppets being used to teach children a variety of subjects in public schools.

In a 1976 article in The Puppetry Journal, Mrs. Hook wrote that using puppets to teach math would help limit frustration and be "interesting and fun" and that "puppetry can clarify a concept by illustrating it or motivating a student to illustrate it."

Mrs. Hook said the use of puppets made children more receptive and at the same time extended their attention span.

"When you can illustrate a concept through seeing, hearing and touching, the concept is retained far longer," she wrote.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Hook established Puppets Unlimited and staged one-woman shows that she performed at area hospitals, schools and clubs.

She was an active member of the Puppeteers of America and the National Capital Puppetry Guild, and during the 1980s, toured the nation with her one-woman puppet show, which she also took to Paris, family members said.

Mrs. Hook began teaching in Anne Arundel County public schools in 1978 and spent most of her career teaching English and drama at Glen Burnie High School, retiring from Severna Park High School in 1995.

She also taught theater appreciation classes at Anne Arundel Community College and the Arnold Senior Center until recent years.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun in 2001, Mrs. Hook explained that the classes were "liberating for men and women in the ideas that come across. Live theater gets you thinking in new ways."

During the 1970s, Mrs. Hook wrote, produced and toured in "George Sand," a one-woman show that celebrated the life of the 19th-century French novelist and feminist. Sand, whose real name was Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, scandalized Belle Epoque Paris by dressing in male clothing and smoking large cigars.

"She wore wonderful vintage clothes including a beaver top hat," Shirley Levine of Columbia, a puppeteer and longtime friend, said of Mrs. Hook.

For more than 20 years, Mrs. Hook was a freelance theater and music critic, with her work being published in The Baltimore Sun and The Capital in Annapolis, as well as other publications.

She was a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and served as a judge for several years for the Helen Hayes Awards, which honor professional theater in the Washington metropolitan area.

"The great thing about big-city theater that surrounds us is that each theater not only has an individual voice but it harmonizes with others by sharing theater space, directors, actors and production staff," she wrote in a 2002 article in The Capital.

"Pat had a deep understanding and appreciation for theater," said Brad Hathaway, a freelance critic and friend.

"She was charming, friendly and a very kind and great lady. She was almost too kind to be a critic," Mr. Hathaway said, laughing.

Mr. Hathaway, who enjoyed attending plays with Mrs. Hook, said when they were reviewing the same show, they didn't swap notes or opinions, and if they did mention the show, did so in general terms that were devoid of criticism.

"We often talked about memories that a show engendered and shared stories. But Pat loved talking about the good things she saw in a show," he said.

Mrs. Levine said her friend "specialized in musical theater criticism," but "really did do everything, including children's theater."

Mrs. Hook also had been a member of the board of the Annapolis Opera and a longtime member of the National Press Club.

Her nephew, Frederick A. Leist of San Rafael, Calif., said, "She was always a bohemian and cared not a whit for appearances, so unlike her late sister, my mother, who lived life as if it were a Jane Austen novel."

Graveside services were held Thursday at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville.

Mrs. Hook is survived by another nephew, Edward G.S. Leist of Bel Air.

She was predeceased by her two sons, Thomas Shepherd Hook II, who died in 1974, and Evan Shipley Hook, who died in 1983. Her marriage to Thomas S. Hook Sr. ended in divorce. A first marriage was annulled.

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