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

BWW Feature: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at Kennesaw State University

By Justin Cole Adams, Broadway World
February 9, 2017

playbill from Peter and the Starcatcher image

At one point or another, we have all experienced the magic of Peter Pan and the legacy that J.M. Barrie created over 100 years ago. Whether you have seen the films, read the novels or seen the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland,” we have all wanted a little bit of Tinkerbell’s fairy dust. Tuesday, I got to experience the story of how a boy who did not want to grow up became Peter Pan in PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. The production was executed by the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies of Kennesaw State University under the direction of Professor Karen Robinson. With the audience’s imagination being a critical prop, this show is perfect for Robinson’s unique theatrical vision as you are reminded what it is truly like to use your imagination.

PETER tells the story of an orphan being held captive aboard a ship called the Neverland, and a starcatcher with a top secret mission. Together, along with the help of some lost boys, they tell the prequel to the story that we all know and love. It is a different side of the classic tale that still makes you never want to never grow up.

The cast, comprised of students from the university, was led by CameRon Walker as the orphaned boy named Peter, Alyssa Egelhoff as Molly the starcatcher and Tad Cameron as the comedic role of Black Stache (aka Captain Hook). The rest of the cast includes Joseph Ndoum, Truman Griffin, Carson Seabolt, Sully Brown, Amy Reynolds, Meg Harkins, Caleb Silvers, ChristIan Smith, Steven Taylor and Laura Reboulet. The musical talents of Alexander Crosett and Brooks Payne were additionally on stage. Every person in the show clearly had so much fun sharing this story and it translated wonderfully.

The scenic design by guest artist Jeffrey Zwartjes was exceptional. The black box hosting the show, lined with ladders, planks and the likes of a pirate’s ship, has never looked better. The costuming, done by Jamie Bullins, was just as satisfying. You just cannot go wrong with mermaid outfits made out of Chinese take-out boxes.

Kennesaw State University has a theatrical season comprised of plays, musicals and festivals that faculty, staff and guest artists (all of which are industry professionals) facilitate. PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is running through February 12 in their Onyx Theater.

Read the original post here.