TACOMA – Geoff Proehl, professor of theatre arts at University of Puget Sound, has been selected by his North American theater arts peers to receive the G. E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement.
This is the most prestigious award given by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), which represents theater professionals across the United States and Canada, and Proehl is only the seventh recipient of the award in LMDA’s 31-year history.
The award for lifetime achievement in the field of dramaturgy was made at a July 9 ceremony at the LMDA’s annual conference at Portland State University. In presenting the award, LMDA Board of Directors Chair Brian Quirt spoke about the inspirational influence Proehl has had on the thinking and work of many in the field of dramaturgy. He also reflected on Proehl’s influence on his own work over their 20 years of friendship.
“Geoff has so elegantly and always framed his own speeches, his publications, his production dramaturgy, his remarkable book, his comments at conferences, even his notes in that wonderful artists’ sketchbook he carries, in terms of personal stories—rich in language, in observation, in perspectives that take us to new places.
“Geoff has offered me this greater perspective … through two decades of his thoughtful, devoted, loving, deep commitment to the field we all work within: to dramaturgy as a way of seeing, processing, and understanding the world we pass through; to storytelling as a way to engage with the philosophy of living; and to the people of his landscape, perhaps most of all.”
Geoff Proehl is a teacher, dramaturg, director, author, and a former president of the LMDA (1998-2000), who helped revitalize the organization almost two decades ago. He pulled together and mentored a team to lead the LMDA and collected an invaluable record of the organization’s accomplishments, now archived in Collins Memorial Library at University of Puget Sound.
The distinguished professor and past-chair of Puget Sound’s Department of Theatre Arts is the author of Toward a Dramaturgical Sensibility: Landscape and Journey, with DD Kugler, Mark Lamos, and Michael Lupu (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2008), which received the Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. In 1997 he published a study of American family drama: Coming Home Again: American Family Drama and the Figure of the Prodigal, and, with Susan Jonas and Michael Lupu, he co-edited and contributed to Dramaturgy in American Theater: A Source Book.
Proehl has worked professionally with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; the People’s Light and Theatre Company in Pennsylvania; Tacoma Actors Guild; and the Museum of Glass. He directed more than 20 productions at the university level—at Stanford University, where he earned his doctorate; at Villanova University, where he taught; and at Puget Sound, where he teaches today. At Puget Sound these included the premieres of C. Rosalind Bell’s The New Orleans Monologues and 1620 Bank Street (co-directed and dramaturged with Grace Livingston).
Proehl has presented and taken part in panels internationally, written for professional journals, edited the LMDA Review, and created some of the first digital resources in the field. He helped coordinate arts events at Puget Sound’s 2014 Race and Pedagogy National Conference, and he has served in the community, among many other activities.
“I am tremendously honored to receive the Lessing Award,” Proehl told the LMDA conference, as he acknowledged the intimidation of being named next to the former recipients—Anne Cattaneo, Arthur Ballet, Michael Lupu, Mark Bly, DD Kugler, and Morgan Jenness—whom he so admired.
“I am the astoundingly privileged recipient of a lifetime of love and care, much of it from people in this room, and as I name these communities of generosity, I would invite you to think not only of those who have made my journey possible, but also yours: family, teachers, mentors, colleagues, students, and collaborators.”
The text of the introduction by Board of Directors Chair Brian Quirt and Proehl’s acceptance speech are available on the LMDA website: www.lmda.org.
Press Release from the University Puget Sound. Read original article.
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