Fil-Am drama critic wins Nathan Award


Posted at Mar 19 2009 06:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 20 2009 02:54 AM

Filipino American Randy Gener made history after being the first Asian American writer to be awarded the coveted George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.

This is the highest award for dramatic criticism in the US and one of the most distinguished awards in American theatre.

Gener, senior editor for “American Theater Magazine,” told ABS-CBN News, “For me as a writer, I’ve been writing out of obscurity, nobody writes criticism with the expectation that you get something out of it. So to have some recognition is the best thing about it.”

He was declared as “the American who has written the best piece of drama criticism during the theatrical year (July 1 to June 30), whether it is an article, an essay, treatise or book,” reported.

Meanwhile, according to, the Nathan Awards Committee cited Gener for using “that venue [America Theatre Magazine] and others to draw our attention to largely ignored voices and visions on the international theatrical scene, to the work of Filipino-American playwright Jessica Hagedorn, to a small but lively Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, and to the future of theatrical criticism itself in essays that wed critical intelligence with a beat reporter's love of the telling and unruly fact.”

The citation added, “In one piece, Gener argues that, at its best, criticism is ‘a cultural asset, one of the bases on which democracy and community are built.'”

The New York-based writer and editor was given the recognition during the 50th Nathan Award presentation held at the Philippine Consulate.

Ellis Hanson, Ph.D., chair of the Cornell University English Department, presented the award.

For 50 years, Nathan Award recipients are chosen by English department heads from Cornell, Yale and Princeton Universities.

At the reception in honor of Gener were Fil-Am actor Paolo Montalban and playwright Jessica Hagedorn. also said that Montalban, joined by fellow Fil-Am Broadway actors Jose Llana and Orville Mendoza, performed a medley of songs from the new musical “The Long Season,” which is about Philippine immigration in the US.

“I have made it my mission to promote Filipino-American culture in the United States. And I’m not interested discrediting people and I’m not interested in insulting people but in the art itself,” noted Gener.

“There’s only one major award for drama criticism. There are many theater awards, many movie awards but this is it for drama criticism and for Randy to be honored in this way along with the greatest is a tremendous step and I think well deserved and that is why we are all here to celebrate that,” said actor David Henry Hwang.

Aside from being a writer, editor and critic, Gener is also a playwright and visual artist.

He received $10,000 along with the Nathan Award trophy.

The Nathan Award is named after an American drama critic and editor who died in 1958. Report from Lenn Almadin-Thornhill, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau