English professor was ‘gifted playwright’

By Kierstin Molnaur

Associate professor of English Rebecca Basham passed away on July 22 at the age of 48. In addition to being a professor, she was also a playwright who had many of her works produced and read on campus.

Basham received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of New Orleans in 2001. As a playwright, she produced many plays around the county including Lot’s Daughters, Arbeit Macht Frei, Louisiana LIKK-HR and Wrinkles, which were published by Samuel French.

In 2002, Basham came to Rider where she taught playwriting, screenwriting and literature courses, as well as contributed to the Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, and Film and Media Studies programs. From 2004-2007, she directed the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and received the Sadie L. Ziegler-Bernice Gee Award in 2010, presented to the person who has most significantly contributed to ending gender-based discrimination.

Basham was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the William Morris Award, Jane Chambers National Playwright Award, The Sundance Award, and the Michael Kanin National Playwright Award. Many reviewers called her “a gifted playwright” and found her work deeply moving. Basham continued her acts of kindness and generosity by donating the proceeds of her productions to LGBT organizations.

“She was our truth-teller, always saying the exact right thing at the right time, insightful about people, and funnier than all get out just when you needed it,” said professor of English, Dr. Matthew Goldie.

Dr. Vanita Neeklakanta, associate professor of English, said she “adored her,” calling her a “mentor, friend and partner in crime.”

“Coming into work was that much more meaningful and fun if she was there,” Neeklakanta said.

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