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Dr. John Gentile

Dr. John Gentile To Receive NCA’s Heston Award

By Keaton Lamle

Dr. John Gentile, Professor of Performance Studies in Kennesaw State’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, will receive the National Communication Association’s Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies. NCA will present Gentile with the award during its 103rd annual convention in Dallas, Texas this November.

The Heston award, which recognizes excellence in published research and creative scholarship, comes on the basis of Gentile’s essay, “Shape-Shifter in the Green: Performing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” (published in Storytelling, Self, Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Storytelling Studies). “Shape-Shifter in the Green…” builds on Gentile’s three decades of scholarship in arguing an inextricable link between the seemingly disparate tasks of performance and scholarship. To hear Gentile explain it, his goal is to illuminate the work of what he calls, the ‘scholar-artist,’ thereby, “show[ing] the work in scholarship that inevitably takes place behind the scenes in preparing a performance of a canonical text like Sir Gawain.”

Gentile has always been attracted to what he refers to as, “masterworks,” those canonical texts that are ultimately handed down and rediscovered across the distance of centuries. As a result, much of his work as a scholar and artist has centered on the concept of adapting and staging canonical works like Sir Gawain, Moby-Dick, and The Scarlet Letter for contemporary audiences. “I often wonder about the future of great works,” Gentile explains. “If they are not embedded in our education experience, when will people come upon them? And so I almost have a quest to ‘salvage’ works from a sense of loss, whereby a work of true power and significance is reduced— to contemporary students— to only a title they may have heard of.” According to Gentile, it is this task of cultural curation that ultimately necessitates a link between scholarship and performance. “Assuming the artist creating the adaptation of a major literary text for the stage has done his or her work in analysis and in research,” the professor explains, “and brings to it an effective vision, and makes it vital in the theatrical experience, then that performance can lead audiences back to the original text itself -- as readers, and that to me is the real benefit of doing the work I do.”

Given Gentile’s track record of both penning and staging engaging performances of famous texts, and his impeccable ability to articulate the theory behind this process in his work, it’s no surprise that Emerson College’s John Dennis Anderson called him, “the preeminent exemplar… of the scholar artist [in the field of performance studies]” in a nomination letter for the 2017 Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies.

Gentile’s celebrated scholarship and artistry will be on display on November 11, at the Jung Society of Atlanta’s, “The Green Knight and Other Stories of Magic and Transformation: A Storytelling Program with Music

Archived News

Highlights of Fall Arts Events


The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University has a full schedule of events planned for the fall of 2016, including dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.  

In a uniquely collaborative event, the School of Music and KSU Dance Co. have gathered forces with the Zuckerman Museum of Art to host Interchange II: Transitions on September 20th at 8 p.m. Free and open to the public, this collaborative Recital features musical works and dance specifically selected to accompany exhibitions currently on display in the Zuckerman Museum of Art.


Explore more visual art at Paying It Forward: KSU Artists and Their Protégés exhibition II with a free reception on September 26 from 5-7 p.m in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Wilson Building. For this series of exhibitions, faculty and staff members from the School of Art and Design were asked to invite the students who became some of their protégés to show their work alongside that of the teacher.


Don’t miss In the Red and Brown Water at the Onyx Theater September 20-25. Playwright Tarrel Alvin McCraney kicks off his multi-award winning brother/sister trilogy with this moving and tragic coming-of-age story that nestles itself within the choice between safe love and destructive passion.


The Department of Dance will present MELD at the Stillwell Theatre on Nov. 9-12 at 8 p.m. Get your tickets early, because these evenings of innovative classical and contemporary dance sell out quickly.

To see the complete 2016-2017 schedule of events, please visit