Jeffrey Eric Jenkins Elected President of the International Association of Theatre Critics
ATCA’s own Jeffrey Eric Jenkins was named as President of the International Association of Theatre Critics at its 29th General Assembly on May 15, 2021 held over zoom and hosted by Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. Dr. Jenkins is the first United States representative elected to head the 65-year-old organization, which represents nearly 3,000 theatre critics in more than 80 countries, and advocates globally for free expression and building bridges between cultures.
Jenkins is Professor of Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a faculty affiliate of Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago. He served five terms on the IATC executive committee, including three terms as vice president, and is executive editor of the bilingual journal Critical Stages/Scènes critiques. The assembly’s appointment was conferred by Honorary President Ian Herbert of Great Britain.
Jenkins provided comments in an IATC press release, “Sadly, this is not a time for celebration, but for reconsideration. We must now renew our purpose and advocate for the best that theatre can offer, as we help lift theatre from this time of pandemic. As we move gradually into the post-Covid world, we must keep before us an important idea: that our work in AICT-IATC can, at its best, build bridges between our cultures and lead us to greater understanding of the nature of human existence.”
Michel Vaïs (Canada/Québec), was elected to an 11th term as IATC Secretary General. Dr. Vaïs is widely credited with the prolific expansion in the number of global sections during his more than 20 years as a leader of the IATC. During his mandates, Vaïs has served with four presidents, Georges Banu (France), Ian Herbert (Great Britain), Yun-Cheol Kim (Korea), and Margareta Sörenson (Sweden).
Also elected were ten member-nations to serve as the Executive Committee for the next two years: Argentina (Halima Tahan Ferreyra), China (Zhu Ning), France (Jean Pierre Han), Georgia (Irina Gogobéridze), Japan (Manabu Noda), Nigeria (Emmanuel Dandaura), Russia (Nikolai Pesochinsky), Serbia (Ivan Medenica), Slovakia (Zuzana Uličianska), and Thailand (Pawit Mahasarinand).
Although the pandemic severely curtailed the activities of the organization, platforms such as Zoom have made it possible for IATC to continue planning for the eventual reopening of theatres globally. It is worth noting that in countries with government-subsidized theatre, the loss of ticket sales due to social distancing has not had the same impact on theatre performances as in countries operating on commercial models. In April, IATC celebrated the extraordinary career of Tadashi Suzuki in awarding him IATC’s Thalia Prize for extraordinary artistry and critical thinking.