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Alumni Merit Award: Frank Galati (C65, GC67, 71)

Frank Galati may claim that laziness proved his most significant obstacle to success, but the resume of the director, playwright, actor, and professor reveals scarcity neither of work nor of achievement. With nine Joseph Jefferson Awards, given for distinction in Chicago theater, to his name, as well as two Tony Awards and nominations for an Academy Award and for another Tony, Galati seems to have conquered his main roadblock long ago.

Galati earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the School of Communication. While he was an undergraduate, Galati took roles in nearly 20 university productions and claimed the Drama Club of Evanston's First Playwright Award. In 1972, shortly after obtaining his PhD, he was nominated for a Jeff award, and he won his first in 1973 for producing Boss, a musical satire about Chicago's former mayor, Richard J. Daley.

The young playwright and director's career unfolded to reveal success after success, both popular and critical. His ability to take the written word to the stage in potent and original productions is highly praised. Galati's 1988 adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath brought in best play and best direction awards at the Tonys and two Jeff Awards in the same categories. His ongoing engagement with the work of Gertrude Stein began in 1976 with his staging of The Mother of Us All for Chicago Opera Theatre. The next work featuring Stein's writing, She Always Said, Pablo, also dealt heavily with Picasso's work and used the music of Igor Stravinsky. It earned him two more Jeffs for best play and best direction. Other honors include the 1991 Distinguished Service Award from the Northwestern Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and his 2004 induction into the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

He has devoted much time to teaching as well as to writing and directing. While working toward his master's degree, he taught in the speech department at the University of South Florida. He then took on the role of instructor of interpretation at Northwestern while pursuing his PhD. He moved to the Goodman Theatre School and Roosevelt University before joining the Northwestern faculty full-time as a professor of performance studies. He claims much pride in, as he says, his "brilliant former students," among them director, playwright, and fellow School of Communication professor Mary Zimmerman (C82, GC85, GC94) and co-founder and artistic director of About Face Theatre Eric Rosen (GC93, GC99).

He is currently directing his adaptation of Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

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