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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

5 “Can’t Miss” Events This Season

Looking for something to do this season? Enjoy art exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, and musical concerts, all at Kennesaw State College of the Arts. Here are our top five that you should not miss: 

1.MELD Nov. 9-12. An evening of innovative classical and contemporary dance, including choreography by Israeli artist Ella Ben-Aharon. Get your tickets early! Read more.

2. K.I.S.S Showcase: Nov. 11-12. FREE; Onyx Theater, 8 p.m. Improv Dangerously, the mantra of ensemble, and popularly known as “Kennesaw Improv Society, Stupid!”  Enjoy unscripted, spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment tomfoolery that is a new show every time. 

3. ASO at KSU Nov. 11 featuring Robert Spano, conductor and David Coucheron, violin. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra returns to KSU for an exciting and fiery program. Stravinsky’s magical Firebird Suite launched his career composing ballets and is one of the Orchestra’s signature pieces, recorded under Robert Shaw in 1979. Concertmaster David Coucheron plays the romantic Violin Concerto No. 1 by Prokofiev and Robert Spano, Music Director, conducts.Pieces to be performed include: Knussen - Flourish with Fireworks; Scriabin/kurth - Symphony No. 5, “Prometheus, Poem of Fire”l Prokofiev - Violin Concerto No. 1; and Stravinsky - The Firebird Suite (1919).

4. School of Music Holiday Concert Dec. 2. Join the School of Music for this special, family-friendly program featuring the best of holiday selections.

7. KSU Tellers Showcase: Dec. 2-3. Join the KSU Tellers for a one-of-a-kind night of their best stories from the fall semester. 

5. ASO at KSU Holiday Family Concert Dec. 15. Enjoy music from The Nutcracker, join in a festive sing-along, and have a holly jolly Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the whole family in Morgan Concert Hall. And, if you’re good, Santa Claus himself just might make an appearance!

To see all of our upcoming performances, please visit