LGBT Hall of Fame
INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 2004
As a professional actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright, Frank Galati has earned international praise for adapting and directing “The Grapes of Wrath”, which won him two Tony Awards in 1989. The play also won him an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award. In 1997, he was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the musical “Ragtime”.
In 1989, he was nominated in the category of best-adapted screenplay for “The Accidental Tourist” by both the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has also won nine Joseph Jefferson Awards for outstanding achievements in Chicago theater, as well as two directing awards from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, a League of Chicago Theatres Artistic Leadership Award, and an NAACP Theatre Award.
Born in Highland Park on November 29, 1943, Galati was a professor of performance studies at Northwestern University (retired in 2006), an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company (since 1985), and associate director of the Goodman Theatre (since 1986). He has directed 10 productions for Steppenwolf since joining its ensemble. His teaching and creative interests are in the area of presentational aesthetics, with special interests in modern literature. In 2001 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
One aspect of Galati’s achievements that particularly resonates with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities is his exploration of the works of Gertrude Stein. His stagings and adaptations of her writing have led to a new view of the very beginnings of the modern gay community as we know it—Stein having been not only one of the first well-known openly lesbian women but also one of the first persons to use the word “gay” publicly as a synonym for “homosexual.”
Galati’s interest in Stein’s texts began in the 1970s when he put together an Evanston campus program for the Speech Communication Association to feature what the university’s department of performance studies is devoted to: the study of literature through performance. Since then he has returned to Stein’s work repeatedly and has staged other off-campus productions based on her texts. In 2003, to great acclaim, Galati staged the world premiere of A Long Gay Book, a chamber musical based on Stein’s writings. It was also adapted for the stage by Galati, with music by Tony Award winner Stephen Flaherty. Galati described the musical as “a play within a lecture” that Stein herself delivered in 1934 at age 60 at the University of Chicago. It gives audiences a glimpse of Stein’s life and that of American gay and lesbian expatriates in Paris, including Stein’s love for Alice B. Toklas.
Chicago is now an important center for LGBT scholarship, with highly respected researchers based at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University. Galati’s pioneering and innovative work on Stein has played a role in this. But more than that, Galati’s work has elevated Chicago theater to new heights of excellence and renown. (Please note: this information has not been updated since the time of the member’s induction).
Director Frank Galati at Lyric Opera of Chicago
June 6, 1986 - The Guilt of Lillian Sloan [William Neil, composer-in-residence] (Galati was librettist and director)
Sung by members of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, conducted by Lee Schaenen (Cahn Auditorium, Evanston, IL)
1990/91 - Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe [Argento] with Kaasch, Stilwell, Swensen, Futural; Keene, Conklin, Schuler, Tallchief
1992-93 - Pelléas et Mélisande with Stratas/Esham, Hadley, Braun, Kavrakos, Minton; Conlon, Istral
1993-94 - Traviata [Opening Night] with Anderson, Sabbatini/Neil/ Hvorostovsky/Agache; Bartoletti, Heeley, Tallchief
Tosca with Byrne/Guleghina, Jóhannsson/Leech, Morris/Fox, Skinner/Woodley, Philip Kraus; Bartoletti, Walton
1999/2000 - View from the Bridge [Bolcom] with Malfitano, Josephsen, Nolen,Rambaldi/Bayrakdarian; Davies, Loquatso
DAVID EMMONS, SET DESIGNER
A memorial service is being planned for David Emmons, award-winning scenic and theater designer who died Saturday in Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Emmons, 34, a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama, began his work in the theater in Chicago in the mid-1970s and immediately established himself as an imaginative young designer.
In addition to his designing of scenery at such Chicago area theaters as the Ivanhoe (''The Great Sebastians'') and Northlight (''Seascape''), Mr. Emmons planned the original performance spaces for Wisdom Bridge and St. Nicholas Theatres in Chicago.
Many of Mr. Emmons` designs, including the sets for ''Yentl'' and ''A Streetcar Named Desire,'' had been seen at Wisdom Bridge.
Returning to Chicago after a few years in New York, Mr. Emmons worked as a scenic artist at WMAQ-TV (Channel 5), designing the play ''The 51st Ward'' there. His most recent stage design in Chicago had been in 1985 for the cabaret revue ''Forbidden Broadway.''
Mr. Emmons is survived by his parents, Richard and Helen; his twin brother Richard; and a sister, Anne. Burial will be in his native Ann Arbor, Mich.
© 1979 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in the studios of WNIB, Classical 97, on April 2, 1979. A portion was broadcast on WNIB four days later. This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here. To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.
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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.