March 14—George Vafiadis, one of the co-founders of the Penobscot Theater Co. in Bangor and founder of two other Maine theater companies, died last week of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his home in Florida. He was 88 years old.
Longtime friend and colleague, actor, director, and Husson University professor Kenneth Stack confirmed Vafiadis’ death, noting his impact on theater in Maine and his love of acting.
Vafiadis died on Wednesday.
“We all benefit today from his boundless energy and dedication,” Stack said. “And his respect for acting has never wavered.”
Vafiadis founded Acadia Repertory Theater on Mount Desert Island in 1973, a summer stock company that produced plays and musicals in the former Masonic Hall in Somesville. Along with a hiatus in 2020 during the pandemic, Acadia Rep has been providing live summer theater on the island for nearly 50 years, featuring local and national actors.
Acadia Rep began producing shows in Bangor in the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1983 Vafiadis and his colleague, Lou Collier, formed a permanent company, the Penobscot Theater Co. Vafiadis served as the company’s production manager until 1990, alongside artistic director Stack. , moving the theater to a permanent home at 183 Main St. in 1986, where it remained until moving to the Bangor Opera House in 1997.
“George Vafiadis was Zeus incarnate,” said Bari Newport, who served as artistic director of the Penobscot Theater between 2012 and 2021. in the power of history to unite and uplift a community, created three theater companies, which still exist today.”
Vafiadis also founded the Public Theater in Lewiston in 1991, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.
Vafiadis was born in 1934 in New Jersey and grew up there and in Texas, where he studied theater at the University of Texas at Austin. As a young man, he worked in theater companies across the country, before moving to Maine in the early 1970s. He remained in Maine until 2013, when he and his wife, Katherine, moved to Maine. moved to Sarasota, Florida.
Later in life, Vafiadis worked as a voice actor in audiobooks, recording versions of the King James Bible and letters from Abraham Lincoln. Vafiadis has also appeared in a number of film and television roles, including a recurring role on HBO’s “The Wire” and the film “27 Dresses.”
Vafiadis is survived by his wife, Katherine, and his sister-in-law, Elaine. A memorial service will be held this spring at the Acadia Repertory Theatre.