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Northwestern faculty members make TIME Magazine’s ‘Best of the Decade’

When the end of 2009 inspired TIME Magazine to count down the "Best of the Decade" on everything from new diet books to famous disappearances, TIME's theatre critics also picked their favorite plays and musicals from the past 10 years.

Among them? Three productions by Northwestern University School of Communication faculty members.

In fact, the three productions all placed in the top five best stage productions of the decade.

August: Osage County, directed by Anna Shapiro, professor of theatre and director of the MFA program in directing, took the top spot in the list.

Anna Shapiro
Anna Shapiro, AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

Shapiro earned a Tony for her work on the play. Scenic designer and Northwestern associate professor Todd Rosenthal also won a Tony for the production. Assistant professor Ana Kuzmanic designed the costumes, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

The play earned its playwright, Tracy Letts, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. Before the show moved to Broadway, it premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 2007.

Mary Zimmerman
Mary Zimmerman

Rebecca Gilman
Rebecca Gilman,
photo by Joan Marcus

TIME critic Richard Zoglin said August: Osage County "has the psychological complexity and the emotional generosity to place it firmly in the ranks of the American theater's great family dramas."

At the number four slot in the list is Metamorphoses, a retelling of Ovid's myths adapted by Mary Zimmerman, Jaharis Family Professor of performance studies.

The production premiered on Northwestern's campus in 1996 as Six Myths and had a run at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago. With a change of title, the play opened off-Broadway in 2001 and later transferred to Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Zimmerman won a Tony for her direction of the play.

Zimmerman is an alumna of Northwestern University's theatre and performance studies programs, earning her Ph.D. in 1994.

Zoglin credits Zimmerman's "lyrical, low-tech theatrical efforts" with opening up new avenues of storytelling.

And at the fifth slot in the list is Boy Gets Girl, written by Rebecca Gilman, assistant professor of radio/television/film.

The play premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 2000 and went to New York at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Despite good productions, the play was underrated, according to Zoglin, who called it "deceptively modest."

Gilman's adaptation of Carson McCuller's novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter also made TIME Magazine's "Top 10 of Everything of 2009" list.

View the full "Best Theatre of the Decade" list.