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Nadia Kitirath

Randy Gener receives the George Jean Nathan Award on an Inspiring Night


The 50th Annual Presentation of The George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism
Monday, March 9, 2009
The Philippine Center, New York
556 Fifth Avenue


Patricia Angelin, Literary Executrix of George Jean Nathan Estate and Randy Gener. Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

The Freedom Hall of the Philippine Center. Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

Filipino-American playwright, director and critic Randy Gener received the 2007-08 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism March 9, 2009 at the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The Freedom Hall of the Philippine Center, exquisitely decorated with masterpieces by Filipino artists, was crowded by critics, writers, artists, journalists and managers of nonprofit theater organizations. Greeting friends and acquaintances at the reception preceding the awards ceremony, Gener's welcoming smile was as big as the sculptures in the hall. The atmosphere was joyous. Tasty appetizers--in a mixture of Philippine and other Asian styles--were expertly and unobtrusively served, adding to the festive atmosphere and enlivening the mostly thoughtful people who crowded the event at dinner hour.

L-R: Jose Llana, Orville Mendoza and Paolo Montalban. Photo by Nadia Kitirath.
Randy Gener and Jose Llana. Photo by Nadia Kitirath.

At the ceremony in Kalayaan Hall upstairs, there were friendly and affectionate greetings by the hosts, actors Rona Figueroa and Victor Lirio. Hon. Cecilia B. Rebong, the Philipine Consul General, gave a hearty speech, beginning in Tagalog. A favorite part of everyone's evening were songs by three lovely Filipino singers, Jose Llana, Orville Mendoza and Paolo Montalban, under the musical direction on Albin Konopka. Their songs about the Philippine experience fostered an understanding of Randy Gener, who is Filipino by birth, at the level of the heart.

Teresa Eyring, Executive Director of Theater Communications Group, gave an introduction about Gener's ten-year (so far) tenure at American Theater Magazine, which has been both his life and his work.

Patricia Angelin, Literary Executrix of George Jean Nathan Estate, offered background about the life and work of George Jean Nathan, which was inspiring to members of this audience, who appreciate the importance of dramatic criticism to the theater.

In addition to a monetary award of $10,000 the winner receives a trophy. Ellis Hanson, Chair of the Cornell English Department, presented the award to Gener.

The award is given by the English departments of Cornell, Princeton and Yale universities, assisted by experts from those universities. The award is administered under the terms of a trust established by George Jean Nathan, an author, critic and 1904 Cornell graduate.

Randy Gener. Photo by Nadia Kitirath.

As for Randy Gener, this was his night, his time and his moment. He seemed both beatuiful and overwhelmed. In lengthy remarks, he presented American Theater Magazine as his home, his love and his family. He said a thousand thank-you's. His bliss was infectious; inspired by the rarity of such moments; we all may have guiltily wishing that the night could be longer.

Notably, Mr. Gener is the first Filipino-American winner of this award, a result of his writings as a senior editor of American Theatre Magazine, which has been a tremendous asset to Theatre in our country for decades. Gener's journalistic career has been devoted mostly to theater. It is clear that the honor will encourage him and contribute to his influence. That's part of the idea of the award.

Gener was a founding writer of The New York Theatre Wire. We are very proud of him.

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