Newswise — The George Jean Nathan Award Committee has chosen two recipients of the 2014-15 prize for the year’s best work in dramatic criticism. Brian Eugenio Herrera is receiving the award for his book Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance (University of Michigan, 2015). Chris Jones has been chosen for his work as theater critic for the Chicago Tribune.

An assistant professor of theater arts at Princeton, Brian Eugenio Herrera is also a writer and performer whose solo show I Was the Voice of Democracy has been presented in many cities around the world, including Ithaca. In Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance, Herrera tracks the growing impact of Latina/o artists on, and Latina/o representation in the American theater and, more broadly, American culture. The Nathan Committee noted in particular Herrera’s outstanding analysis of the 1959 musical West Side Story and its continuing theatrical legacy for these issues of Latina/o representation.

Chris Jones joined the Chicago Tribune in 2000, after serving as a touring theater critic for Variety. Equipped with a panoramic understanding of contemporary playwriting and directing, Jones’s knowledge of Chicago theater history is especially deep. Of Jones’s numerous memorable pieces from 2014-15, the committee especially admired his review of The Project(s), a new play addressing the daunting conditions facing residents of Chicago’s housing complexes. Jones’s review weighs in forcefully on issues of public policy and racial politics even as he locates the play’s virtues and limits.

The Nathan Award was endowed by George Jean Nathan (1882-1958), a prominent theater critic who published 34 books on the theater and co-edited (with H.L. Mencken) two influential magazines, The Smart Set and The American Mercury. In establishing the award, Nathan stated his aim to “encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.” Nathan graduated from Cornell in 1904; as a student, he served as editor of The Cornell Daily Sun and the humor magazine The Cornell Widow.

The Nathan Award committee is comprised of the heads of the English departments of Cornell, Princeton and Yale universities and drama specialists from each university, and is administered by Cornell's Department of English.

Previous winners include Jill Dolan, Randy Gener, Alisa Solomon, Charles Isherwood, Elinor Fuchs, Hilton Als, Cornell professor H. Scott McMillin, and last year's winner, Michael Feingold. For more information about the Nathan Award, visit <>.

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