December 5, 2012 | CUNY Graduate Center, Hunter College
Doctoral faculty member Jonathan Kalb (Theatre) is a recipient of the 2011–12 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism for Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater (University of Michigan Press, 2011). He shares the prize with Kenneth Gross (Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life). Kalb previously won the Nathan Award in 1990–91 for his first book, Beckett in Performance, and for his articles and reviews in The Village Voice.
Since its inception in 1959, the George Jean Nathan Award has been given to multiple winners on only three other occasions. In identifying these two outstanding critical studies, the Award Committee noted these books’ distinct, yet equally compelling realizations of George Jean Nathan’s “object and desire to encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.”
George Jean Nathan (1882–1958) was a prominent and influential theatre critic. He graduated from Cornell University, whose Department of English administers the prize. Past winners on the GC’s doctoral faculty in theatre have been Alisa Solomon (1997–98), Marvin Carlson, who shared with John Lahr (1993–94), Albert Bermel (1973–74), and Stanley Kauffmann (1972–73).
Great Lengths also received the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association. The award-winning book, the fruit of a lifetime of intelligent playgoing, deepens our understanding of challenging works and asks us to reconsider what it means to pay attention at and to a theatrical event that makes remarkable claims on our time in a communal setting. Whether discussing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Nicholas Nickleby or Einstein on the Beach, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America or Peter Stein’s Faust, Kalb insists on the importance of a theatre that he terms necessary—theatre “that is not merely clever, edifying, or entertaining but inspiringly ambitious, that gathers people together in ways they scarcely thought possible, confirming their common humanity, and reminds them of what the art once looked and felt like when it mattered much, much more to the average person than it does today.”
Kalb, who teaches at Hunter College as well as the Graduate Center, is also literary advisor and a resident artist at Theater for a New Audience, where he works frequently as a dramaturg. He is the founding editor of HotReview.org, The Hunter On-Line Theater Review.