Edward Lee Pilkington, Jr., M.F.A.



Dr. Kay R. Dickson, “Edward Lee Pilkington, Jr., M.F.A.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 22, 2024, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/48094.

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Edward Lee Pilkington, Jr., M.F.A.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Kay R. Dickson




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

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Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Theatre and Dance Edward (Ed) Lee Pilkington, Jr., (September 6, 1938-) was born in Pine Level, North Carolina, the eldest son of Catherine James Malpass and Edward Lee Pilkington, Sr. Pilkington's brother, Terry Eugene (1948-1998), was a graduate of Appalachian State University who became a loved administrator and wrestling coach in the Wayne County, North Carolina school system, which recently named a new gymnasium in his honor. In 1956, Pilkington graduated from Goldsboro High School, Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he was awarded Best Supporting Actor for fifteen years in the "South's Outstanding Theatre for Youth," the Goldmasquers. He earned his B.F.A. degree in theatre from Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, in 1961 and his M.EA. degree in theatre from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1970. He did postgraduate work at Cornell University in Ithaca (1961), at the American Theatre Wing in New York City (1964), and at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1966 and 1967). Pilkington married the former Patricia Bowen on December 6, 1964, in New York City. Patricia is the daughter of Thelma and Alvin Bowen of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The Pilkingtons have three children and nine grandchildren. A daughter, Jennifer Anne, is married to Randy Edwards. They are both graduates of Appalachian State University, and Randy is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Kernersville, North Carolina. Jennifer Anne and Randy have three children: Catherine Anne, William, and Madelyn. The Pilkingtons' son, Brent Ahren, is married to the former Halle Widener; each is a graduate of Appalachian State. Brent is a realtor with Boone Realty, and Halle teaches in the Watauga County School System. Brent and Halle reside locally and have four children, Grant, Sophia, Lilly, and Laney. The Pilkingtons' other daughter, Piper Baret, is married to Vernon Gresham Collins. Graduates of Appalachian State, the Collinses live in Boone and have two sons, Edward Gresham and James Brayden. Vernon is the Youth Director at the Boone United Methodist Church. Pilkington began his career as an actor/teacher by performing during summers in The Lost Colony (1956-1962), the oldest outdoor drama in the United States. In 1957, he spent the year acting at the Keuka Summer Theatre in Penn Yann, New York, and, after his graduation from Ithaca College, he served in the United States Army (1961-62) at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Pilkington then taught theatre (1962-63) at Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina. While he was in South Carolina, he played Maduff in Macbeth for both the Town Theatre and the University of South Carolina Educational Television Network. In 1963, he moved to New York City, where he performed off Broadway at the Clark Center and at the Playhouse on the Mall. Pilkington earned his Actor's Equity union card while he was in New York and was represented by the Michael Hartig Agency. From 1966 until 1970, he was an assistant professor of speech and theatre and interim chair of the Department of Theatre at Elon College, Elon, North Carolina. During his years at Elon College, Pilkington helped charter the North Carolina Theatre Conference and originated a statewide theatre touring company. In 1970, Pilkington joined the faculty at Appalachian State University as an associate professor of speech and theatre and as co-director of theatre. Over the next thirty years, he taught acting, directing, introduction to theatre, playwriting, and stage crafts, and he directed, as well, over sixty student productions. Pilkington also acted in co-productions with the Charlotte Repertory Theatre and the Flat Rock Playhouse, notably playing the title role in Rom Linney's commissioned work Hisself, which celebrated the centennial year of Appalachian State University. During his Appalachian State career, Pilkington served on numerous campus committees and was professionally affiliated with the North Carolina Theatre Conference (president, 1977), the Southeastern Theatre Conference (state representative; chair, Professional Division; and chair, Ethics Committee), and Christians in Theatre Arts (regional director, Board of Directors). He was the founder of the Blue Ridge Creative Activities Council (1972), which led to the formation of the Ashe County Arts Council, the Avery County Arts Council, and the Watauga Arts Council. Professor Pilkington was director of cultural programs at Appalachian State from 1978 to 1980, and he initiated the founding of An Appalachian Summer in 1978; he also directed Horn in the West from 1971 to 1991. A five-time recipient of the Student Government Outstanding Teacher Award, he was awarded the College of Fine and Applied Arts Outstanding Faculty Award in 2001. In the same year, Pilkington was admitted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Mike Easley. Pilkington retired as professor emeritus in 2001. Since retiring, he has returned to acting full-time and has performed at the Blowing Rock Stage Company, Blowing Rock, North Carolina; the Temple Theatre, Sanford, North Carolina; the Triad Stage, Greensboro, North Carolina; Th Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA, and the Pacific Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia. Between theatre engagements, Pilkington can be seen riding his Trek 5500 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. His wife has become a sought-after painter, whose work may be seen at the Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery in Blowing Rock; at Solo Gallery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and at the Art Source Gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ed and Pat established a scholarship in the Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance for students pursuing the B.A. in theatre performance. Sources: Appalachian State University files and personal correspondence. -Dr. Kay R. Dickson

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