University News

Community mourns death of TAPS grad student

Scott’s GS work includes multiple performances and plays, as well as several films

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brian Torrey Scott GS, a doctoral candidate in theater arts and performance studies, died Nov. 29 after a prolonged battle with colon cancer.

President Christina Paxson informed the campus of Scott’s death in a community-wide email Tuesday.

“He was a gifted student, an incisive mind and a gentle soul,” said Erik Ehn, chair of the TAPS department.

University Chaplain Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson described Scott as imaginative, passionate and kind, also noting the “incredible outpouring of love and friendship” from his family and friends over the past year.

“It was such an honor to know him and his family,” she said.

Scott entered the TAPS doctoral program in 2012. He was already an established artist when he entered the program, said Patricia Ybarra, associate professor of TAPS. While at Brown, Scott pursued his interests in avant-garde theater and pataphysics, a field examining how media functions beyond the metaphysical level, she said.

“He was exemplary in his interdisciplinarity,” Ehn said. “He was a creative artist as well as an academic scholar.”

Scott’s professional work includes more than 20 performances and plays as well as several acclaimed films and musical collaborations, according to his biography on the TAPS website.

His first book, “Green Candle,” which includes experimental writing, poetry, artwork and a full playscript, is due for release in December, according to his personal website. A copy of the book was obtained from the publisher for inclusion in a private service held Tuesday, Cooper Nelson said.

“He was also an amazing presence as a teacher,” said Lin Hixson, professor of performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, who both taught Scott and worked with him as a colleague.

Azita Youssefi, a friend and colleague of Scott’s from Chicago who worked on plays as well as musical records with Scott, said he had a propensity for collaboration.

“He was a person that really liked having a lot of other people around him all the time,” Youssefi said.

Scott was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2012, a few months after arriving at Brown. Soon after, he went on medical leave and began treatment, Ybarra said.

The cancer had already “progressed to quite an advanced place” by the time Scott became aware of his disease, Cooper Nelson said. But Scott remained “patient and optimistic,” she added.

Throughout his battle with cancer, Scott kept well-wishers informed of his progress. “He documented his illness in social media as well as in his writing,” Ybarra said.

“The writing he did in the last year of his life when he was fighting for his life was very profound,” Hixson said.

Though a private service was held Tuesday for Scott, Cooper Nelson said a larger service will likely be held in Chicago, where Scott and his wife, Jill Adamson, spent many years.

Scott and Adamson were married three weeks ago, wrote Katie Pearl GS, Michelle Castaneda GS, Stefanie Miller GS and Lindsay Goss GSdoctoral candidates in TAPS and friends of Scott — in an email to The Herald. After the wedding, they wrote, the couple traveled to New York City for a honeymoon, “even as sick as (Scott) was.”

Members of the TAPS community are planning a memorial service for Scott, Ehn said.

Scott received a Bachelor of Arts degree in cinema studies and creative writing from Southern Methodist University in 1998. In 2003, he earned his Master of Fine Arts in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he served as an adjunct assistant professor from 2003 until 2010. He also taught at Columbia College from 2005 until 2010. Between 2010 and July 2012, he worked as a writer for Rosetta Stone, according to his website.

“I feel so sad for Brown that we didn’t have so much more of an opportunity to spend time with Brian,” Cooper Nelson said.


  1. Colon cancer is a nasty beast. Once the cancer leaves your colon it’s all over very shortly.


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