Humanities professor wins 2009 prize for scholarly outreach

Mary-Kay Gamel

Professor of classics and comparative literature Mary-Kay Gamel has been awarded the 2009 Prize for Scholarly Outreach from the American Philological Association (APA)--the national classics association.

The APA honored Gamel for her work over the past two decades bringing ancient drama to thousands of people in an accessible, enjoyable, and meaningful way, noting:

"Her versions of ancient tragedies and comedies draw audiences into vital engagement with the classical texts through language, staging, music, and theatrical devices that dramatically juxtapose ancient cultural concepts with contemporary concerns--as for example reimagining the women's festival of Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazousai as The Julie Thesmo Show, a daytime-television talk show."

The APA also praised Gamel for working with and mentoring many young actors and theater students who would otherwise not have encountered Greek and Roman drama, and added that "Professor Gamel has become the 'go-to' person for any group or organization (including the APA) that wants to stage a classically themed performance."

UCSC literature professor Karen Bassi noted that Gamel is "that rare academic whose work combines both practice and theory."

Bassi added that the award "recognizes Mary-Kay's long and influential career as a translator, director, and scholarly interpreter of ancient dramatic texts--in particular, it attests to her commitment to making these plays speak, both politically and aesthetically, to diverse groups of modern audiences."