ITACHA, N.Y.: The George Jean Nathan Award committee selected Brian Eugenio Herrera and Chris Jones as the recipients of the 2014–15 prize for excellence in drama criticism. The awardees each received a cash prize of $10,000.
The Nathan Award was endowed by the late George Jean Nathan, a prominent theatre critic who published 34 books on the theatre and co-edited two magazines, The Smart Set and The American Mercury. In establishing the award, Nathan aimed to “encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.” The selection committee comprises the heads of the English departments at Cornell, Princeton, and Yale universities, drama specialists from each university, and is administered by Cornell’s department of English.
Herrera received the award for his 2015 book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance, which tracks the representation and impact of Latino/a artists in American culture, particularly in theatre. Herrera is an assistant professor of theatre arts at Princeton University and is also a writer and performer whose solo show, I Was the Voice of Democracy, has been presented in cities around the world, including Ithaca. The Nathan committee also noted Herrera’s outstanding analysis of the 1959 musical West Side Story.
Chris Jones, theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune since 2000, was awarded for his knowledge of the Chicago theatre scene and his vast understanding of contemporary playwriting and directing. Prior to writing about theatre for the Tribune, Jones served as a touring theatre critic for Variety. The committee noted his review of The Project(s), a play about public housing complexes in Chicago at American Theater Company directed by the late PJ Paparelli, in which Jones wrote about the play’s virtues and the issues of public policy and racial politics.