Jeff Kennedy, a clinical associate professor in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, is rockin’ the house. He’s rockin’ a house that dates to the early 1900s, and a house that is considered the birthplace of American drama. Kennedy, who has taught courses in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance program for 11 years as a New College faculty member, is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the history of the Greenwich Village (NY)-located playhouse, which opened as a theater in 1918 after serving first as a stablery and next as a bottling plant.
His research is shared with his students. It is also shared with international peers from across the country and around the world. He has been chosen to chair the 8th International Eugene O’Neill Conference this summer, an annual gathering presented by the venerable Eugene O’Neill Society. O’Neill, a Literature Nobel Laureate, played a pioneering, starring role in creating an American identity in the plays of its native playwrights that had yet to emerge on the commercial stage — he did so from the start at the Provincetown Playhouse, which he helped launch. Participants in the 4-day conference will include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, director Robert Falls, and actor Brian Dennehy, all of whom have been involved in presentations of O’Neill’s work.
“The richness of the legacy of the Playhouse is why I would choose as an interdisciplinary researcher to become a scholar of its history,” says Kennedy. “The history of the Playhouse is a vital example of experimentation for a tangible purpose, in this case creating an American identity in theatre that its founders believed was lacking. Only a truly interdisciplinary program and a college like New College would allow me to teach the wide scope of the Playhouse’s influence and its affect on history.”
To read the ASU News coverage of Kennedy’s research, click here.