Geoff Proehl, professor of theater arts at University of Puget Sound (UPS), has been selected by his North American theater-arts peers to receive the G. E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement. This is the most prestigious award given by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA), an organization that represents theater professionals across the United States and Canada. Proehl is the seventh recipient of the award in the LMDA’s 31-year history.
The award, for lifetime achievement in the field of dramaturgy, was presented at a July 9 ceremony at the LMDA’s annual conference at Portland State University. LMDA board of directors chair Brian Quirt spoke about the inspirational influence Proehl has had on the thinking and work of many in the field of dramaturgy: “Geoff has offered…two decades of his thoughtful, devoted, loving, deep commitment to the field we all work within; to dramaturgy as a way of seeing, processing and understanding the world we pass through; to storytelling as a way to engage with the philosophy of living; and to the people of his landscape, perhaps most of all.”
Proehl is a teacher, dramaturg, director, author and president of the LMDA from 1998 to 2000. He helped revitalize that organization almost two decades ago by pulling together and mentoring a team to lead it. He also collected an invaluable record of the organization’s accomplishments, now archived in Collins Memorial Library at UPS.
The distinguished professor and past-chair of Puget Sound’s Department of Theatre Arts is the coauthor of Toward a Dramaturgical Sensibility: Landscape and Journey, with DD Kugler, Mark Lamos, and Michael Lupu (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2008). It received the Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. In 1997, he published a study of American family drama, Coming Home Again: American Family Drama and the Figure of the Prodigal, and, with Susan Jonas and Michael Lupu, he co-edited and contributed to Dramaturgy in American Theater: A Source Book.
Proehl has worked professionally with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; the People’s Light and Theatre Company in Pennsylvania; Tacoma Actors Guild; and the Museum of Glass. He directed more than 20 productions at the university level: at Stanford University, where he earned his doctorate; at Villanova University, where he taught; and at UPS, where he teaches today. At UPS these included the premieres of C. Rosalind Bell’s The New Orleans Monologues and 1620 Bank Street (co-directed and dramaturged with Grace Livingston).
“I am tremendously honored to receive the Lessing Award,” Proehl told the LMDA conference. “I am the astoundingly privileged recipient of a lifetime of love and care, much of it from people in this room.”