Dr. Ben B. Halm, an award-winning playwright and associate professor of English in CAS, died on Tuesday, July 23, after a long illness. He was 49. Funeral plans were not finalized by press time, but a viewing is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 17, at the Lester Gee Funeral Home on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport. The family welcomes having Dr. Halm's University friends and colleagues present.
Born in Accra, Ghana, Dr. Halm received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Ghana and held an M.F.A. from York University in Canada. He also earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He joined the Fairfield faculty on Sept. 1, 1993. In addition to teaching introductory English courses, he also taught "Understanding Drama" and "Inside Modern Drama."
"When I think of Ben, I see a passionate, energetic professor, working hard to get his students to be as engaged with the world as he was," said Dr. James Simon, chair of the English Department. "He showed us all how to combine academic talents as a scholar with professional experience as a playwright, director, and actor. The beneficiaries were his students and all of us who worked with him."
Dr. Halm, an expert on African literature, wrote the 1995 book, Theatre and Ideology. Several of his plays were produced in the U.S. and Canada, including a production of Ota Benga, Elegy for the Elephant staged at Fairfield University in 1997. He also directed plays on campus and acted in productions in Ithaca, N.Y., Toronto, and St. Louis, where he taught for two years at Webster University. He was a playwright-in-residence at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto.
Dr. Halm was a panelist at dozens of academic conferences and a member of the African Literature Association and the Modern Language Association. At the time of his death, he had been working on a number of scholarly projects on theatre and on African literature and culture in a time of globalization. He also was writing a trilogy of plays, War Fairs.
He enjoyed Ghanaian music (drums, percussion, guitar) and West African dance forms, and was fluent in Ga, Adangbe, Twi, and Ewe (indigenous Ghanaian languages) as well as English, with proficiency in French and Spanish.
Dr. Halm is survived by his wife, Christina Maku Halm, and his daughter, Willow Kai Halm.