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Performance artist and scholar wins award for teaching and inspiring

School of Communication performance studies professor E. Patrick Johnson has been named the 2015 Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher of Theatre in Higher Education. The award is given by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Johnson is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Performance Studies.

The ATHE is a professional organization serving both individual and organizational members, including college and university theatre departments and administrators, educators, graduate students, and theatre practitioners.

The organization’s Oscar Brockett Award honors a college-level faculty member whose superiority as a teacher of theatre is recognized by students and colleagues has provided inspiration through instruction to others and who has “created strong and effective interpersonal communication in studios, shops, rehearsal halls, and/or classrooms through advising, mentoring and all aspects of the student/teacher relationship.”

Johnson will accept the award at the ATHE Meeting in Montreal on July 29.

“To be recognized by ATHE with this award is simply overwhelming,” Johnson said. “Oscar Brockett was a master teacher and world-renowned director, so to have a teaching award in his name is humbling. More importantly, the fact that it was my current and former students who nominated me for the award blew me away.  As much as I inspire them, they inspire me.”

In addition to his exemplary teaching, Johnson is known for his scholarly work and performance art. He is the author of Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (University of Carolina Press, 2008) and Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Duke University Press, 2003). He tours a one-man show titled “Pouring Tea,” in which Johnson delivers the stories he has collected from black gay Southern men, in character.

Johnson has previously been awarded the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theater, the Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship in African American Theatre Studies, awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research, and the Martin Duberman Fellowship, awarded by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the City University of New York.

The Oscar Brockett Award recognizes the life and work of Brockett, a theater historian who taught at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas for 25 years. Brockett died in 2010.

This is the second time a Northwestern University professor has taken the Brockett Award since it was established in 1993. Department of Theatre professor Sandra L. Richards, now the director of liberal arts at the Northwestern University Qatar campus in Doha, won the award in 2007.