Council of Scholars

Theatre for a New Audience has established a Council of Scholars to expand the scope and depth of the Theatre’s humanities programs. A primary goal of the Council will be to provide perspectives that illuminate contextual themes and heighten intellectual conversation around Theatre for a New Audience’s season. The Council will help to design comprehensive and integrated programs that meet the needs of target audiences, and that deepen the contributions of the Theatre to Shakespeare study and scholarship over time. Further, Council members will participate in the Theatre’s public programs and will write articles for its publications. Council Members for the 2014-2015 season are Jonathan Kalb, Richard McCoy (Chair), Gail Kern Paster, Tanya Pollard, Alisa Solomon, and Ayanna Thompson.


JONATHAN KALB (Resident Literary Advisor and Dramaturg, Theatre for a New Audience) is a professor of theater at Hunter College, where he was Chair of the Theatre Department for six years, and an internationally acclaimed theater critic and scholar. A two-time winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, he has published five books on theater and has written for dozens of publications including The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York Press, The Nation and His book Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater won the George Freedley Memorial Award for the outstanding theater book of 2012.


AYANNA THOMPSON (Chair) is Professor of English at George Washington University. She specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race and performance. She is the author of Teaching Shakespeare with Purpose: A Student-Centered Approach (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2015) (co-authored with Laura Turchi), Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008), and she is the editor of Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) (co-edited with Scott Newstok) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). Professor Thompson is a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America.
GAIL KERN PASTER is editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, the leading scholarly journal devoted to Shakespeare. She retired in July 2011 as Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. She came to the directorship from George Washington University, where she was a Professor of English. She earned a B.A., magna cum laude, at Smith College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a Ph.D. at Yale University. She has won many national fellowships and awards, including fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment from the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She was named to the Queen’s Honours List as a Commander of the British Empire in May 2011. She has published widely—including three books (The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare [1986]; The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England [1993]; and Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage[2004]). She continues to pursue her scholarly interests in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Photo by Julie Ainsworth.
TANYA POLLARD is Professor of English at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Her books include Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages (2017), Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England (2005), and Shakespeare’s Theater: A Sourcebook (2003), as well as three co-edited collections of essays, on Greek texts in early modern England, and on early modern ideas about the emotional effects of plays and poems.  A former Rhodes Scholar, she has received fellowships from the NEH, Whiting, and Mellon foundations, and the Warburg Institute.  She is currently co-editing an anthology of theories of tragedy from Plato to the modern day, and editing Ben Jonson’s play The Alchemist.
ALISA SOLOMON is a teacher, writer and dramaturg living in New York City. She directs the Arts and Culture concentration in the MA program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her criticism, essays and political reporting have appeared in a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Nation, Forward, Theater, and Village Voice (where she was on the staff for 21 years). Her book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (Routledge, 1997) won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. She is the co-editor (with Tony Kushner) of the anthology Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Grove, 2003). Her latest book is Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof from Metropolitan Books (Holt). Photo by David M. Barreda.


RICHARD MCCOY (Chair) is a Distinguished Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is the author of four books – Sir Philip Sidney: Rebellion in Arcadia (Rutgers, 1979), The Rites of Knighthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry (California, 1989), Alterations of State: Sacred Kingship in the English Reformation (Columbia, 2002), and Faith In Shakespeare (Oxford, 2014) – as well as many articles on Shakespeare’s plays. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council for Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and The Huntington Library. He has also served as a speaker and consultant for Shakespeare performances for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Classic Stage Company, Target Margin, The Public Theater, and The Shakespeare Society as well as Theatre for a New Audience.
Pictured above: Kathryn Hunter and cast members of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, photo by Joan Marcus.