Corey Fischer in “Lightning in the Brain” at The Marsh in 2016. (Photo/Ken Friedman)
Corey Fischer in “Lightning in the Brain” at The Marsh in 2016. (Photo/Ken Friedman)

Traveling Jewish Theatre’s Corey Fischer suffers serious brain bleed

Actor, director and playwright Corey Fischer, best known as co-founder of The Jewish Theatre, suffered a brain stem bleed on Dec. 3, according to his family.

After undergoing surgery and spending more than a month in intensive care, Fischer began rehabilitation and was making “slow steady progress,” his friends and family said in a web post. Last weekend he experienced a setback and returned to the hospital.

“Recovery is rarely linear!” his wife, author China Galland, wrote in a post published on the website CaringBridge.

Fischer, 74, directed or acted in more than 100 plays over his career with A Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco, which was founded in 1978 and later renamed The Jewish Theatre before folding in 2012. He also had roles on the sitcoms “M*A*S*H” and “All in the Family,” and guest starred in an episode of “Frasier” in 2002.

His community theater work has earned national acclaim. In 1999, Fischer and TJT won a prestigious grant from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays to adapt the Holocaust novel “See Under: Love” for the stage. The adaptation subsequently was included in a 2005 anthology, “Nine Contemporary Jewish Plays,” published by the University of Texas Press.

In an interview with J. in 2016, the San Rafael resident said he had experienced an episode of sudden memory loss called transient global amnesia two years prior. The incident provided inspiration for his writing — including for his one-man play “Lightning in the Brain.” In 2015 he suffered two grand mal seizures, he told J.

According to a GoFundMe page created by his family:

“On Tuesday, December 3rd, Corey was taken to the local ER with what was diagnosed as bleeding in his brain stem, the area of the brain responsible for critical involuntary processes such as heartbeat and breathing. He was immediately transferred to the UCSF Neurological Intensive Care Unit. Surgery was on Friday, 12/6, for surgical removal of the source of the bleeding, a long-standing vascular malformation. The surgery was long, and judged to be very successful.”

As of Dec. 16, his prognosis was good, his family said, but he remained in the ICU. On Jan. 14, Evan Specter, a family friend and former drama student of Fischer’s, wrote in an online post that Fischer’s progress was “slow and steady” and that he was “increasingly himself.” On Jan. 16 he was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, where he remained until last weekend.

Fischer’s physical recovery is estimated to take 12 to 18 months, according to Specter. “The best news is that Corey’s memory, cognition and creativity were not affected,” he wrote. Galland made special mention of Fischer’s friends at the Everyday Zen Community, thanking them for the “sense of community [they] created and maintained around” her husband throughout this ordeal.

Estimating that the cost of Fischer’s care will be expensive, his family is asking for donations. “We don’t know how much China and Corey will be responsible for,” a post from Tara Doyle and Evan Specter read.

As of Feb. 5, the family had raised $29,240 on GoFundMe, with a goal of $34,000.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.