Sylvie Drake named newest ATCA Emeritus member
The ATCA Executive Committee unanimously voted earlier this month to add veteran critic, mentor, writer, and scholar Sylvie Drake to the ATCA roster of Emeritus members honored for career distinction and service to ATCA. The most recent prior addition to the Emeritus roster of members was Dan Sullivan in 2018.
Drake, 91, of Los Angeles, announced her retirement from active reviewing earlier this year, as shared in the June 22 edition of the ATCA Update. Her career traveled from theater criticism to media relations to new play program development to mentoring young critics to grant evaluator and many other roles. She embodies the definition of this rarely-conferred distinction of ATCA membership.
Drake became theater critic for the Los Angeles weekly Canyon Crier in 1969, joined the staff of the Los Angeles Times as critic and columnist in 1971, and moved to chief critic from 1991 to 1994. In 1994 she joined Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) as Director of Media Relations and Publication and Associate Artist of the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC), where she helped found the DCTC new play program, then called Prima Facie. Also in 1994 she served on the Pulitzer Prize’s drama selection committee and served 1994-1997 on the advisory board of the Pew Charitable Trust’s National Arts Journalism Program.
The Egyptian born and bred and trilingual Drake (French, Italian, and English) has crafted translations and adaptations, and wrote the principal text for the 1993 bilingual book about Quebec’s Le Cirque du Soleil.
For the ATCA publication “Under the Copper Beech” (2004) edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Drake conducted two of the ten interviews with ATCA founders and American theater criticism luminaries Ann Holmes and Dan Sullivan, both of whom have received the ATCA Emeritus honor.
Drake was recommended for this distinction by the Emeritus Membership nominating committee, comprised of Bill Hirschman, Anne Siegel, and Chris Rawson. Prior recipients of the honor include: Tish Dace, Lawrence DeVine, Welton Jones, Julius Novick, and Dan Sullivan, and deceased members Ira J. Bilowit, Claudia Cassidy, Richard Coe, Marianne Evett, Henry Hewes, Clara Hieronymus, Ann Holmes, Glenn Loney, Beatrice MacLeod, Norman Nadel, Elliot Norton, Ernie Schier, and Gerald Weales.
This ATCA honor has existed for 20 years and is intended to be awarded sparingly to recognize careers of 20 years or more and service to the profession and to ATCA. Emeritus members, designated by the Executive Committee, are restricted from serving on the Executive Committee but have all other member rights and privileges and do not pay membership dues.
– Submitted by Martha Wade Steketee