Theatre and Performance Studies News

Current News

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

Classic Russian play finds new relevance on the Stillwell stage

March 3, 2017 by Chandler Smith, KSU Sentinel

image of student playing piano

Hayden Rowe, playing Andrey, practices the piano during rehearsal. Photo credit: Cory Hancock

The Theatre and Performance Studies department will bring turn-of-the-century Russia to the Stillwell Theater March 16.

Written by Anton Chekhov in 1901, Three Sisters was originally performed in Russian. It has been translated into modern American English, and the actors do not use dialects, though the setting is the same as the original play. Kennesaw State University’s production is directed by Artistic Director and Department Chair Rick Lombardo.

“I think of Three Sisters as one of the great plays of modern drama,” Lombardo said. “It’s really an examination of how life happens and how life can divert us from the things that we think are most important.”

Lombardo said that the timeless themes in the show feel particularly poignant in our society today, given the social and political unrest we are currently experiencing.

Cast members picture

The “Three Sisters” cast poses in their costumes as they prepare for opening night. Photo credit: Cory Hancock

“This play is set in a time with this huge upheaval, and people don’t quite know what’s about to happen,” Lombardo said. “Core values are being questioned. As we’ve been working on the play, we’ve been thinking, ‘This feels like now!’”

The cast of 14 theatre and performance studies majors ranges from freshmen to graduating seniors. As the freshmen prepare to perform at KSU for the first time, several seniors must say goodbye to the Stillwell stage after many years.

Three Sisters will be senior Danny Crowe’s 13th and final performance at KSU. Crowe plays the role of Vershinin.

“This character kind of embodies what it’s like to find a home and have to leave it,” Crowe said. “So this performance is sort of my love letter to the department and the family that I have found here. It’s been an incredible time.”

“Three Sisters” runs in the Stillwell Theater March 16-26, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run between $5 and $20 and can be purchased at the box office on campus or on the Kennesaw theater website.

Read the original post here.