In Memoriam: Mark Hallen

The impact of a life

We are sad to announce the passing of our long term advocate and Advisory Council member Mark Hallen Thursday, August 22, 2013. Mark was surrounded by his close friends and, ever the director, listening to a playlist he had created months before for this final act. We count ourselves blessed to have had this final summer with him; planning the next Winter Sort of Thing, giving him updates on how Summer Theatre Camp was running, and dreaming, scheming, and laughing, always laughing.

There was a memorial service at Germantown Mennonite Church, 21 W. Washington Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144 on Saturday, September 28, 2013 in the early afternoon.

It is no exaggeration to say that without Mark Hallen, Yes! And... Collaborative Arts would not exist. In the summer of 1988, Mark and his collaborator Kathryn Peterson, under the direction of their professor Jim Young began a theatre program for kids called MUSE. The program moved to inner-city Indianapolis, then Norris Square in Philadelphia until 1994. (You can read more about this in our history section.)

In 1998 a group of Mark’s students approached him about models of education in theatre for children. Mark contacted Kathryn and together they trained these young people in the MUSE model. Thus began the Eastern College Summer Theatre Camp. A few years later, Yes! And... Collaborative Arts was born as an independent entity, running summer camps and after school programs throughout the city of Philadelphia.

In 2005, YACA staff approached Mark about the possibility of bringing current children in their programs together with his university students to create an original musical that all would be a part of creating and performing. Thus, the Winter Sort of Thing was born! Under Mark’s care, this program has has produced six original musicals, and continues to produce as the years go by.

Though Mark did not have any biological children, we know that his legacy will continue through the work of Yes! And… Collaborative Arts. He taught us to risk, to create, to jump together. He taught us that we are stronger when we’re working together, to “go for broke” and “just throw strikes.” We are so glad to announce the Mark Hallen Memorial Fund to support the Winter (and now Summer) Sort of Thing. This fund will allow other people who were impacted by his life to help us ensure that “the single most important part” of his years will continue.

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The "Sort of Thing" Fund in Memory Of Mark Hallen

In August of 2013 our mentor, teacher, and friend Mark Hallen passed away. We are honored that he gifted us with a model of collaboration and myth making -- training us to listen, play, adjust and breathe. We are honored that when the time came to make this model our own, he released us with an open heart. We are thankful that he continued to be our teacher even when we thought we knew better. We are humbled that he made space for us within the Eastern Theatre season to make art with kids from all over the Phialdelphia area on the same stage that ignited our own imaginations. It was Mark's strongest hope that Winter Sort of Thing would go on even though he would not be here to muscle it into being. This is our hope too and the reason that we have started the Mark Hallen "Sort Of Thing" Memorial Fund. All donations made in Mark Hallen's name will go towards making sure The Winter Sort of Thing, this program that serves so many kids, that inspires and solidifies so many young peoples' vision and confidence, will continue.

Mark taught us to use what ever tools and resources we had in front and within ourselves to make art. That might be a seven foot tree made of toilet paper rolls, an epic saga that is born when you trip in an improv, or a full length original musical with 40 cast members. Mark was the grandfather of our tribe and we only hope that we can honor his legacy by continuing to teach, learn, create and play.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. We hope you will consider coming to see what your donation made possible and join us for “Sort of Things” for years to come.

Words of love and remembrance

From people, near and far, who were impacted by Mark’s life…

Oh captain, my captain. You taught me and so many others how to find the holy in the profane; how to find peace in chaos; how to live in the here and now. I am honored that I was able to sit at your feet and soak up the knowledge you proffered. Thank you Mark, for fully embracing being you. For joining us on this journey as a faithful servant and for leaving an indelible 'mark' on our heart of hearts. Gone from the visceral, but never far away.

Mark welcomed me into the theater world through MUSE, where I had the privilege to collaborate with him. I'm delighted to know that this work has continued through Yes! and. . . The day after he died, I heard a song we used to sing together: "I Shall Be Released."

I once was so moved by the way Mark was treating a Yes And kid I said: "Mark, I have to hug you" he said "I don't hug" I said: "tough". He put up with me and my enthusiasm. I was grateful for that too, but I did not hug him twice.

To Mark Hallen, my mentor, my friend, and my teacher, You made me not only understand Shakespeare, but fall in love with him. You taught me that the stage can be anywhere, even in the woods or on a city street. You taught me that words have color. You taught me that theatre is not about making things up but about portraying the truth. You taught me not to think outside the box but to live there. Because of you, I work in the arts and know why they are so important. You listened to me. You dreamt with me. You understood me. You inspired me. You believed in me. You challenged me. I did not have a chance to say goodbye, so please know that I am and always will be grateful to have known you. ~Rebekah

First as my professor, and then as a colleague, Mark pushed my thinking outside of "normal" and "acceptable". For that I am grateful.

To a greater stage with love

This donation is made with love and thanks for all that Mark was and is- he meant so much to my son Tyler and I...and to so many others. ~ Chris

I cannot imagine the election of 2016 without Mark's commentary to sustain me. We would wander into each other's offices at Eastern and rant and ruminate about everything under the sun. We never discussed our friendship; it just was. And I am grateful.

In memory of Mark, who challenges me to become authentic and fearless

Mark Hallen

Add your message to our wall of remembrances. If you donate, you will also receive a Mark Hallen thank-you card in the mail!

Contact us:

Yes! And... Collaborative Arts 21 W. Washington Ln. Philadelphia, PA 19144
215-ART-GANG 215-278-4264 Contact Us Form

A Celebration

Watch our celebration of the life of Mark Hallen


A Mark Hallen "Sort of Thing"

We have named a supporting fund for our Sort of Thing program after the man who worked tirelessly to bring this program to life. Mark’s legacy, as he constantly reminded us, was to continue doing great art with kids!

Or send a check with "Mark Hallen Memorial Fund" in the memo line to:
Yes! And... Collaborative Arts
21 W. Washington Ln.
Philadelphia, PA 19144

In his honor, we are going to continue doing the work that he referred to as "the single most important thing I do every year."

All money raised will go towards making sure that this program can continue to thrive and continue to be important in the lives of kids throughout the region.