Gerhardt (Gary) Tischler, a veteran arts journalist whose debut post with DC Theatre Scene “There’s No App for That” remains one of our most-read articles, passed away at Sibley Memorial Hospital on April 8. He was 78.
Tischler’s breakout piece, which poetically and in detail described the wonder of the theatrical experience, launched a nine-month, 14-article run with DCTS in 2010 and 2011. Tischler reviewed plays, interviewed theater artists, and. most distinctively, explained the compelling nature of the art form he loved.
“My coffee got cold, then forgotten altogether as Gary talked about the experience of live performance and why, in an age of comfy at-home entertainment, so many of us choose to sit in a darkened theater,” DCTS Editor Lorraine Treanor wrote, describing her first encounter with Tischler.
In that compelling first piece, Tischler nailed the special joy theater holds for those who love it. “A play is a shared thing—shared by all those who make it happen, but also those in attendance,” he wrote. “On the good and great nights, something electric happens, theater becomes alchemy and we know it deep down. We know too that in spite of all the rehearsals, the craft, the moving forward, that theater is only a forgotten line, a blackout, a technical goof away from turning a tragedy into a comedy, which is of course a tragedy. It’s dangerous up there and in there; it’s a high-wire act.”
What happens in theater, he wrote, is “as a prayer that asks for nothing of God, containing only the hope of a hearing. There is no app for that.”
While Tischler enjoyed writing for DCTS, his first love was The Georgetowner, a newspaper for which he wrote, by his count, more than two thousand articles. Tischler joined The Georgetowner in 1980; his last article, a search of the website shows, was a preview of productions he recommended for this spring, which was published last February 25.
“He was an old-school newspaperman, cut from cloth that they just don’t make like they used’ta,” said the Georgetowner’s Ari Post in a tribute published by the paper. “He was a lot like many of the artists of his generation that he admired…a blue-collar, hard-drinking fella who fell into the arts amid the course of a deeply lived and imperfect life. Because of this, he saw a work of art from the inside out. He filtered art through life, not the other way around.”
In addition to his body of work, Tischler leaves behind his wife, Carole Muller and son, Boyd Irons of Orlando, FL. A memorial service will be held for Tischler; the date has not been announced.