Kim Marra, chair of the Department of American Studies and professor of American Studies and Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa, is the winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize for 2008 for the best book on drama or theatre presented by New York University’s Department of English. Marra wins the award for Strange Duets: Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914 (University of Iowa Press, 2006). The prize is awarded biennially and carries a cash award of $9,000.
The book was selected from a large number of distinguished works on dramatic literature, performance theory, and theatre history. The three-member panel of judges, chaired by Una Chaudhuri, professor of English and drama at NYU, characterized Strange Duets as “an exceptionally original contribution to our understanding of a crucial period of American theatre history. An expansively conceptualized and deeply researched study of the complex cultural forces - including what in recent decades came to be called ‘identity politics’ - that shaped the foundations of American show business, this book tells its important story through richly detailed and riveting accounts of the lives and relationships of some of the most legendary directors, impresarios, and actors of early American theatre. Strange Duets is a work of luminous imagination and superb scholarship.”
The prize was established by Joe A. Callaway, an actor, drama lecturer, and supporter of theatrical causes.