Name: Eric Krebs.
Where I live: Highland Park, N.J., and New York City.
Where and when I was born: Danbury, Conn., in 1944.
Family: Married to Suzanne for 47-plus years. Children: Arielle, who runs Get in the Game voter registration at professional sporting events, and Justin, who works MoveOn.org and founded Living Liberally.
Education: Rutgers, B.A. in English in 1966, master’s degree in 1973. Informal education: Living life among fellow humans.
Occupation: Professor of theater for 37 years at Rutgers and 13 years at City University of New York. Retired this summer after my 100th semester. Also, I have been a theatrical producer for over 50 years — Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater — and more than 150 productions.
How I got where I am today: I quit playing football during college and found a wonderful community in theater production. I wrote plays, performed plays, started theaters (including George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., which has just begun its 45th season in a brand new performing arts center), produced on and off Broadway and even continue to perform occasionally my own one-person shows.
Where I’m headed: Oblivion . . . but until I get there, I will do the best I can for those around me.
Person in history I admire and why: Walt Whitman. He understood life and compassion and empathy as well as anyone I could ever imagine. He celebrated all humanity.
A quotation I like: “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future
generations.” — George Bernard Shaw
These are a few of my favorite things: Reading poetry, often aloud. The Catskill Mountains in New York, where I hang out in the woods in a stone cabin that I built 45 years ago. The response of an audience at a theater event
coming together as a joyous community.
These are not: Organized religion in all its iterations, greed in all of its forms, lack of compassion and empathy for less fortunate.
My doubts about religion started: My great-grandfather was a major rabbi in New York City. My father was a German communist who fought the Nazis. My mother was a sometimes Unitarian. Happy to say, I never “got religion” . . . just humanism.
Before I die: I would like to believe that science and rationalism will save humanity, but I doubt it. I have come to peace with the word “vanish.”
Ways I promote freethought: I recently commissioned and produced a play called “God Shows Up.” What happens when God shows up at the broadcast studio of a televangelist and, in so doing, demolishes most elements of religion?
Also, I love to ask people when we get close to religious topics: “Are you a person of faith?” I get a lot of interesting answers, but few out-and-out statements of belief.
I wish you’d have asked me: What are you working on now? I have just produced three very successful weeks of a comedy festival called Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again. Based on this success, during the coming 2020 election cycle I will be mounting a much grander production in New York in order to make America laugh again.