Monday, April 30, 2012

Drama Desk announces nominees for Outstanding Orchestrations

NEW YORK CITY: After hearing the outpouring of concern and support for the category, the Drama Desk has reinstated the category for this year’s awards show on June 3 at The Town Hall.

The Nominating Committee reassembled over the weekend to select this year’s most Outstanding Orchestrations. The nominees are:

1. Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
2. Larry Hochman, Death Takes a Holiday
3. Martin Lowe, Once
4. John McDaniel, Bonnie & Clyde
5. Michael Starobin, Queen of the Mist
6. Danny Troob, Newsies

Speaking personally, I am thrilled with this decision to re-instate the Drama Desk award for Outstanding Orchestrations.  I hope that nobody will ever forget, ignore or neglect the profound artistic significance of orchestrations in the American theater.

Okay, now let's go back to work, orchestrators, because those orchestrations are not going to write themselves.

The Drama Desk nominees will receive their nomination certificates at an exclusive by invitation only Nominees Cocktail Reception on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM at Oceana Restaurant in Manhattan.

The 57th Annual Drama Desk Awards will take place on Sunday, June 3, 2012, at 8:00 PM at The Town Hall in Manhattan. and its CEO and Executive Producer Gretchen Shugart will present the awards ceremony with Robert R. Blume and David S. Stone in association with Renee McCurry. has engaged Joey Parnes Productions to produce and manage the event.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let's talk criticism, gender and blogging at Princeton University

Theatre Criticism, Gender, and Blogging:
A Free-Wheeling Discussion
Moderated by The Feminist Spectator

Prospect House
Garden Room
Princeton University
Saturday, April 28, 2012
2 – 5 p.m.

With panelists Karen Fricker (The Guardian; Royal Holloway), Randy Gener (American Theatre, Critical Stages), Bonnie Marranca (Performing Arts Journal), and Alisa Solomon (Columbia), and moderator Jill Dolan (Princeton, The Feminist Spectator).

Join us for a panel discussion about gender and theatre criticism to mark the occasion of Prof. Jill Dolan receiving the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2010-2011 for her blog, The Feminist Spectator.  Panelists will address the gender (and race) imbalances and inequities in contemporary criticism, and discuss alternative venues for publishing in-depth writing on current performance and theatre.  The panel will also assess the continuing importance of arts criticism and commentary.

2:00 – 2:30           Welcome and Awards presentation 
2:30 – 3:45           Panel discussion
3:45 – 4:00           Conclusion and redesigned blog launch
4:00 – 5:00           Reception

The Feminist Spectator ruminates on theater, performance, film and television, focusing on gender, sexuality, race, other identities and overlaps, and our common humanity. It addresses how the arts shape and reflect our lives; how they participate in civic conversations; and how they serve as a vehicle for social change and a platform for pleasure. It's accessible to anyone committed to the arts' political meanings.

In her theatre blog at The Guardian, Karen Fricker discusses the significance of the Nathan Award going to Jill Dolan's The Feminist Spectator. Fricker notes that the Nathan Award's history of gender imbalance "might reflect the field's demographics [but] it does nonetheless prompt questioning about why criticism is still largely perceived and practiced as a man's game, when the accomplishments of Dolan and other leaders in the field...prove that turning out incisive, engaging critical prose about what happens on a stage does not require a Y chromosome."

The proceedings will begin at 2:00 p.m. in Prospect House on the Princeton campus. Prospect House can be located here: or

For those coming by train from NYC, take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station to Princeton Junction. Transfer across the platform for the train to Princeton ("the Dinky"),


Jill Dolan is the Annan Professor of English and Professor of Theatre at Princeton University, where she directs the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989, to be reissued in a 2012 anniversary edition), Utopia in Performance (2005), Theatre & Sexuality (2010), and many other books and essays.  She won the 2011 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.  Dolan writes The Feminist Spectator blog at, soon to migrate to, for which she won the 2010-2011 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism.

Karen Fricker is a lecturer in contemporary theatre at Royal Holloway University of London.  She is also a professional theatre critic with a two-decade long career in the US, Ireland, and the UK.  She currently reviews for Variety and Irish Theatre Magazine, which she co-founded in 2008, and has written for, among other venues, The Guardian, The Irish Times, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times.  Her scholarship addresses the effects of globalization on contemporary theatre and performance.  She is currently writing a book called Making Theatre Global:  The Creation, Circulation, and Reception of Robert Lepage’s Original Stage Works for Manchester University Press.

Randy Gener is a New York City-based editor, writer, critic and conceptual artist, and a winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for his editorial work and critical essays as contributing writer and senior editor of American Theatre magazine. A 2003 New York Times critic fellow, Gener serves on the editorial board and is the US section editor of Critical Stages (, the web-journal of International Association of Theater Critics. He is the Broadway editor of New York Theatre Wire (, a site he co-founded in 1996. He has also received the Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and NLGJA Journalist of the Year, among other honors. Gener writes in the theater of One World (, an online media project devoted to cultural diplomacy and international understanding. Gener served for four years as co-creator and curatorial adviser of From the Edge, USITT's USA National Exposition at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. This exposition on the sociopolitical issues consuming American performance makers today returned from Prague and debuted in Long Beach, California, in March 2012; it will premiere in New York at LaMaMa LaGalleria from Dec. 3 to 16, 2012. Gener served as a U.S. judge of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2011 International Festival MESS Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Gener contributes critical essays and scholarly articles to books and anthologies, most recently in Cambridge Guide to the American Theater (Cambridge University Press), International Theatre Institute: The World of Theater (Peter Lang Editions in Paris; ITI Center in Bangladesh), About the Phenomenon of Theater (Namayesh, Iran); and Out of Silence: Censorship in Theatre and Performance (Eyecorner Press, Denmark). He is finishing editing and writing the introduction to The Female Heart and Other Plays by Linda Faigao-Hall, a collection of plays, for publisher NoPassport Press.

Bonnie Marranca is publisher and editor of the Obie Award-winning PAJ Publications and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (originally called Performing Arts Journal), which she co-founded in 1976.  She has written three collections of criticism: Performance Histories, Ecologies of Theatre, and Theatrewritings, which received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Among the many anthologies she has edited include New Europe: Plays from the Continent; Plays for the End of the Century; American Dreams: The Imagination of Sam Shepard; and The Theatre of Images.  Her writings have been translated into fifteen languages.  Marranca is Professor of Theatre at The New School/Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts.  She received the 2011 ATHE Excellence in Editing Award for her work with PAJ Publications.

Alisa Solomon directs the Arts & Culture concentration in the MA program at the Journalism School at Columbia University. In addition to contributing occasionally to The Nation, The Forward, The New York Times, and other publications, she was on staff at The Village Voice for 21 years, where she was a regular theater critic and cultural and political reporter, winning awards for stories on reproductive rights, electoral politics, women's sports, and immigration policy.  Solomon’s book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.  She is the editor of three anthologies: Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (with Tony Kushner); Theater and Social Change (Theater, 31:3); and The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater (with Framji Minwalla). Most recently, she edited and wrote the Introduction to The Reverend Billy Project: From Rehearsal Hall to Super Mall with the Church of Life After Shopping, by Bill Talen and Savitri D.  She is finishing a book-length project on the musical Fiddler on the Roof for publisher Henry Holt.

Images in this photo are courtesy of the George Jean Nathan Literary Estate

Monday, April 9, 2012

Presenting a paper and speaking in a panel at 2012 Inge Festival in Kansas

INDEPENDENCE, KANSAS, and NEW YORK CITY: Playwright David Henry Hwang has loomed very large in my life during this current theater season.  In November 2011, I moderated a Broadway panel discussion at Fordham University Theater which featured Hwang's hit Broadway comedy, Chinglish. The panel also featured its star Jennifer Lim and its maverick director Leigh Silverman.

Then in February 2012, I wrote a news article that landed on the homepage of NPR, National Public Radio. It was entitled "Asian Americans: Why Can't We Get Cast in New York City." Guess who was the celebrity playwright who dominated that event, also held at Fordham University Theater? You can read the piece here.

From April 18-21, I will Hwang-ified again. The 31st annual William Inge Theatre Festival is honoring Hwang with its Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre award. Previous playwrights who have come to Independence, Kansas, to receive this honor include Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, Edward Albee and Stephen Sondheim among others. The William Inge Theatre Festival is a four day Festival in April, held in Independence, Kansas, the hometown of one of America’s great playwrights, William Inge

During that festival, I will moderate/speak in a panel on diversity, serve as a respondent on a scholars' panel, as well as deliver my own paper, entitled "The Pirandellian Mode in the Plays of David Henry Hwang" as part of a scholars' conference.

Other festival guests and presents joining me are Jill André, Paul Baker, Nancy Barnett, Gigi Bolt, Jackson Bryer, Karen Carpenter, Barbara Dana, Joseph Gomez, David Grimm, Cynthia Hyer, Annalee Jefferies, Francis Jue, Robert Koon, Jennifer Lim, Nicole Lowrance, Tzi Ma, Elaine Rivkin, John Rubinstein, Alan Safier, Jon Sidoli, Dan Sullivan, Kent Thompson, Catherine Trieschmann, Ralph F. Voss, Greg Watanabe, Kevin Willmott, Will Willoughby, Elizabeth Wilson, Michael Wilson and Luke Yankee.

Here is a press release from the Inge Festival that serves as an introduction to David Henry Hwang. Click here.

Chinglish was recently selected by Time Magazine as the third best Broadway show of the 2011. Perhaps most notable is that in the theater of One World, in its list of the best theater from any part of the world, selected Chinglish as the best American play of 2011. Here is a film preview of Chinglish on Broadway.

I am honored to return as a festival artist and presenter at the Inge Festival. This is not my first time at the Inge festival In 2001, I attended as a guest scholar; I delivered a paper on the playwright Lanford Wilson who was being honored that year.

I am grateful to the Inge Festival for interviewing me for its Postcards from the Inge blog. Conducted by Amanda White Thietje, this three-part interview describes the four-year process of curating and creating a USA national exposition in Prague; the value and international impact of mega-art exhibitions; and my work as editor of an art-based publication in the Czech Republic. Here are the links to my conversations with the Kansas-based blog on the international value and ripple effect of mega-exhibitions:
  1. Interview – Part 1: "From the Edge"
  2. Interview – Part 2: "Active Searching & The Value of the Prague Quadrennial"
  3. Interview – Part 3: "A Ripple Effect."

The festival also roped me in for a multimedia documentary tribute to Hwang. One of the highlights of the Inge Festival every year is the incredible film documentary that the Inge team prepares all year along and in anticipation of this celebration. The documentary tribute isn't just professionally done. It's educational, too. One day, the Inge Festival should convince NASA to put all those documentary films inside a space pod, which NASA could then launch into outer space. What a legacy to the universe that would be: a view of the Earth through the United States' most important dramatic voices!


July 7, 2011

Re: Documentary Tribute to David Henry Hwang

Dear Mr. Gener,

The William Inge Theatre Festival is in its 31st year of honoring playwrights with its Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre award. Previous playwrights who have come to Independence to receive this honor include Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, Edward Albee and Stephen Sondheim among others. The William Inge Theatre Festival is a four day Festival in April, held in Independence, Kansas, the hometown of one of America’s great playwrights, William Inge.

This coming year, the Festival is pleased to honor David Henry Hwang for his incredible contributions to the American theatre. Our four-day festival culminates in a multi-media documentary tribute. The tribute will consist of filmed interviews with people who have worked closely with Mr. Hwang, live professional performances of Hwang’s material, video clips from his shows and dozens of slides and narration. Past honorees have been greatly moved by the Tribute, and each honoree is given a filmed copy to keep as a remembrance of the Festival and the love bestowed on them by their friends and colleagues. Mr. Hwang will be present at the Festival to receive this honor.

Our hope is that your schedule might permit you to meet us for a brief filmed interview of your kind words of congratulations and memories to be included in our Tribute presentation to Mr. Hwang. We will be filming in New York at the Dramatists Guild Monday, August 1st – Friday, August 5th.  Of course, we would also like to extend an invitation to you to come to the Festival in April as our guest to honor Mr. Hwang in person. Please let us know if you will be available to do a NY interview.

Thank you for your kind consideration.


Peter Ellenstein
Artistic Director
William Inge Center for the Arts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Performing in "New York with an Accent," IASNY event at Nuyorican Poet's Cafe on April 14

NEW YORK CITY:  I will read/perform an immigrant-themed work (my own) at "New York With an Accent," the second annual Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) event. It will be a short piece, about 5 to 10 minutes.

I am part of a huge line-up of performers that include playwright Saviana Stanescu, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" correspondent Aasif Mandvi, Turkish-born director Zishan Ugurlu, flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne Inma Heredia, actress Ondina Frate, playwright Jessica Litwak, dancer/choreographer Natasa Trifan, playwright Pia Wilson, and world-renowned singing sensation Sanda Weigl.

The IASNY event will be held 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Saturday April 14 at Nuyorican Poets Café, located at 236 East 3rd Street Between Ave B & C in the East Village.

CUNY TV is filming the event! To RSVP, visit this Facebook event page.

Also, I've got a profile page on the social conference directory Lanyrd, which lists my upcoming conference lectures and presentations gigs in April (as well as a few past gigs). Please visit at

IASNY will bestow an IASNY Trophy for Excellence to Jennifer Lim for her starring role in CHINGLISH, the Broadway play by David Henry Hwang. The IASNY Trophy is a sculpture called "Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe" made especially by Bulgarian artist Stavri Karamfilov, who is based in Queens.

Jennifer Lim (extreme left) with Samuel L. Jackson, director Leigh Silverman, David Henry Hwang, director Kenny Leon and me.
Featured artists in New York With an Accent include:

Saviana Stanescu - President/Founder of IASNY
playwright, poet, scholar, on faculty at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts

Aasif Mandvi -
is best known as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but he is also the recipient of an Obie Award for his one-man-play Sakina's Restaurant.

Bogar Alonso
hails from the Midwest and Mid-Mexico. As a mosaic writer he writes screenplays, poetry, ad copy, articles, music journalism, and clever put-downs on social media sites.

Randy Gener -
Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic and conceptual artist in New York City.

Zishan Ugurlu
Turkish-born director, actress, artistic director of Actors Without Borders - ITONY
scholar, assistant professor at Eugene Lang College The New School University

Jelena Stupljanin –
Serbian-born actress, starring in the recently released movie Circus Columbia

R. E. Toledo
writer, New York University/University of Tennessee, co-editor of I’man-hattan, NYU Spanish Creative Writing Program’s online publication

Inma Heredia
flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne

Pamela Jackson
storyteller, writer; she has performed on the stages of The Kennedy Center, La Mama Theatre, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the A.I.R Gallery.

Ondina Frate
Actress, Atlantic Theatre Company

Christina Quintana
MFA playwright at Columbia University

Blagovesta Momchedjikova
writer, scholar, PhD, on faculty at New York University

Stavri Karamfilov
independent artist and scholar, theater director and sculptor

Jessica Litwak
playwright, drama therapist, actor, activist, teacher, Theatre Without Borders, founding member of Dream Act Union, artistic director of New Generation Theatre Ensemble.

Natasa Trifan -
dancer/choreographer, The Natasa Trifan Performance Group,

Pia Wilson
African-American playwright, Passage Theater Play Lab, member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group

Sanda Weigl
is a world-renowned singing sensation, blending Gypsy and folk music, cabaret and jazz.

IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience:

For more details e-mail us at:

"Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe" by Stavri Karamfilov 
IASNY, founded by Romanian-born playwright and NYU professor Saviana Stanescu, is an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

IASNY's Advisory Board consists of Elizabeth Bradley, John Clinton Eisner, David Henry Hwang, Carol Martin, Joyce Maio, Jose Rivera, Richard Schechner, Zishan Ugurlu and Lisa Vogel.

IASNY's Leadership Committee consist of May Adrales, Amanda Feldman, Ana Martinez, Jelena Stupljanin, Tamilla Woodard, Graciela Berger Wegsman, Aaron Schroeder (PR).

As part of its efforts to expand its involvement in the New York community and advocate for the brilliant and diverse voices of immigrant artists as an integral part of that fabric, IASNY had its official launch in 2010 at the storied Nuyorican Poets Café (executive director: Dan Gallant) in the East Village. Featuring performances by many prominent members, this launch event embodied the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City's immigrant community.

Immigrant Heritage Week, established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2004, celebrates the experiences and contributions of immigrants to New York City.

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can safely DONATE HERE:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mention in Oregon ArtsWatch article

Oregon ArtsWatch, a blog on arts and culture in Oregon, recently published an article about the playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. The occasion? McCraney's play In the Red and Brown Water, the first part of a trilogy of plays, opened at the Portland Playhouse which performs at a church on Northeast Prescott.

The article, "Portland Playhouse at home and happy: In the Red and Brown Water," was written by Barry Johnson, who was nice enough to make a note of a profile piece I wrote on Tarell.

That cover story article, "Dreaming in Yorubaland," won an NATJA travel media award as one of the most outstanding personality profiles of the year during the 2010 North American Travel Journalists Association Award annual competition. You can read my piece here.

You can read Barry Johnson's piece here. Thank you for giving my article a second life, Mr. Johnson. --RG