Friday, April 9, 2010

IATC Thalia Prize Goes to American Critic-Scholar Richard Schechner

The International Association of Theatre Critics – an association of theatre critics, theatre journalists and theatre scholars in over 50 countries – is pleased to announce that the winner of its highest honour, the Thalia Award, will be American critic-scholar Richard Schechner for 2010.

“The Thalia is awarded by IATC every two years,” said IATC President Kim Yun-Cheol of Korea, “to a scholar, theatre critic or theatre practitioner whose writings have significantly influenced critical thinking about the art of theatre. Previous winners have included Eric Bentley (US, 2006) and Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (France, 2008). We are delighted to add such an eminent man of theatre as Prof. Schechner to the list of Thalia laureates.”

The prize includes a specially designed theatrical memento contributed by the Romanian national IATC centre and the Craiova “William Shakespeare” Foundation, and full expenses to attend the award ceremonies which in 2010 will be in Yerevan, Armenia June 16 to 20. Previous awards have been presented at IATC Congresses in Seoul, Korea and Sofia, Bulgaria.

President Kim pointed out that Schechner, based at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has been the editor of one of the world's leading theatre journals, TDR (The Drama Review) for some 30 years. He first edited TDR from 1962 to 1969 and then returned to it again in 1986, still editing the quarterly journal today.

“During that time, he has turned it from a rather specialised academic journal into the world's leading journal on the avant-garde and later helped it to evolve into the premiere journal of Performance Studies, a field he virtually invented. TDR promoted very early on the work of most of the major avant-garde artists of the late 20th century from Brook and Grotowski, to Barba, Boal and Suzuki. Through its work in Performance Studies, the journal has significantly changed the way theatre is seen world-wide. As well, Prof. Schechner has been a tireless theorist of theatre in Asia and Africa. Indeed, an Asian version of TDR is now coming out in Shanghai. He is also the author of a variety of books which have significantly affected perceptions of theatre on the stage, and the theatrical in our lives,” said Kim.

Among Schechner’s major books are Public Domain (1968), Environmental Theatre (1973), The End of Humanism (1981), Between Theatre and Anthropology (1985), By Means of Performance: Intercultural Studies (1990), The Future of Ritual (1993), and Performance Theory (2003). His books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Parsi, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Hungarian and Serbo-Croat.

“One other aspect of his lifelong work as a scholar-critic-editor has been his constant willingness to test his theories as a working director, “ said Kim. “He has done this on stages in New York through his Performance Group (which produced such landmark shows as Dionysus in '69), through the Wooster Group, through the East Coast Artists company which he ran from 1992 to 2009 and in the many individual productions he has staged in China, India, South Africa, Poland and Taipei among other countries. He is truly an international figure and a most worthy winner of this award. We are delighted that he has chosen to accept the Thalia Award for 2010.”

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