John S. Gentile, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University. Gentile earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. He also holds a M.A. in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a B.A. in Dramatic Arts and English from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He served on the faculty of the University of Northern Iowa before assuming a faculty appointment at Kennesaw State University in 1985. He served for twelve years as chair of the department. Under his leadership, the department’s student enrollment more than tripled, the number of its faculty more than doubled, and its innovative curriculum and ambitious production season recognized for excellence. Additionally, during his term as chair, the department opened the Onyx Theatre, the first new theatre space at the University in twenty years. Gentile moved the department from one focused on solely on theatre and drama to a broader vision which integrates theatre and performance studies and emphasizes a wide range of performance styles and texts, including storytelling, performance art, literary adaptations, and poetry performances, as well as contemporary and classical drama and musical theatre. His vision established the department’s distinctive mission to nurture scholar-artists, students and faculty whose accomplishments reflect achievement as both creative artists and articulate, informed scholars of their chosen area of study.
Gentile teaches classes in storytelling, performance art, and adapting literary texts for the stage, which is his area of emphasis as an artist. His directing credits include his original adaptations of major works of folk and literary narrative such as: Over Nine Waves: Celtic Mythtelling from Ancient Ireland, Jack of Beech Mountain: Folktales from Southern Appalachia, Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice Told-Tales, The Bell Witch and Other Legends: Ghostly Stories from the American South, American Gothic: Stories by American Masters of the Macabre, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Redwing: Voices from 1888, Dark Forest: Tales and Poems from the Brothers Grimm, and The Hero’s Journey: Mythic Stories of the Heroic Quest, which was featured as a plenary session at the international Mythic Journeys conference celebrating the centennial of Joseph Campbell’s birth. His adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was presented at the Casablanca Theatre Festival, where it won the major award for “Best Performance,” and was re-staged for an experimental “immersion” production by Saiah theatre company in 2013 at the Lifecyle Building Center in Atlanta. His current project is Red Hanrahan, an original stage adaptation based on the stories by W. B. Yeats, which opened at the University in February 2013 and will tour to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013.
Gentile is the author of Cast of One: One-Person Shows from the Chautauqua Platform to the Broadway Stage (University of Illinois Press), a history of American solo performance. His articles have appeared in Text and Performance Quarterly, Studies in Popular Culture, On the Culture of the American South, The Future of Performance Studies: Visions and Revisions, Storytelling, Self, Society, Queers in American Popular Culture, and Eighteenth-Century British and American Rhetorics and Rhetoricians. He has presented his research at conferences for the National Communication Association, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, Chautauqua Network, Popular Culture Association, Performance Studies International, Southeastern Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, American Humanists Association, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Georgia Communication Association, and has served as the keynote speaker and performer at national performance festivals. He has served on the executive boards of the Performance Studies Division of the National Communication Association, Storytelling in Higher Education Special Interest Group of the National Storytelling Network, Southern Order of Storytellers, and on the faculty for the Leadership Institute of the Executive M.B.A. Program at the University of Chicago. He is the founding co-editor with Joseph Sobol of Storytelling, Self, Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Storytelling Studies, for which he currently serves as the book reviews editor and served as the guest editor of that journal’s 2011 special issue on Storytelling and Myth. He is an associate editor of the National Communication Association journal Text and Performance Quarterly.
As an actor and storyteller, Gentile has performed throughout the metro-Atlanta area. He has performed at Theatre Gael, the Roswell Magnolia Storytelling Festival, the Winter Storytelling Festival, Theatre in the Square, and 7 Stages. The City of Roswell presented him with The President's Award in 1999 for his service to the community in establishing the annual Roswell Magnolia Storytelling Festival. He has led storytelling study/tours to Ireland's mythic and early sacred sites and serves as the faculty director for the summer study abroad program Acting in Irish Drama in partnership with the Gaiety School of Acting, the National Theatre School of Ireland. Additionally, Gentile has served as a scholar-performer with the Wyoming Chautauqua, Rocky Mountain Chautauqua and Tulsa Chautauqua public humanities programs. In 2003, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award and Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award from the College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University. In 2004, he received the College of the Arts Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award for a second time and was named a finalist for the university’s Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award. In 2010, he received the university’s Foundation Prize for his adaptation of Moby-Dick. In 2011, he received the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award for the Southeast Region for Leadership and Service in Storytelling.
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