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Coleman A. Jennings
Teacher, administrator, director, playwright, author, producer, stage manager, Coleman A. Jennings began his professional theatre career at the New Hampshire-based Chase Barn Playhouse and in New York as an off-Broadway stage manager. Before joining the University of Texas at Austin faculty in 1963 he was the children's theatre director of the Midland (Texas) Community Theatre, a guest professor of theatre at the University of Illinois, and the director of the Victoria (Texas) Children's Theatre.
Jennings has both his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from UT and his doctorate from New York University and served as chair of the UT Department of Theatre for twelve years. During his tenure he recorded notable achievements in the areas of faculty recruitment and student scholarships, and helped establish the Endowed Chair in Theatre For Youth/Playwriting. He has directed over twenty productions at UT, as well as productions in Texas and Illinois and spearheaded the successful campaign to require theatre arts for all Texas elementary school children.
He is a former president of the Children’s Theatre Association of America, past editor of the Children’s Theatre Review and in addition to The Honorable Urashima Taro, is co-author with his wife, Lola H. Jennings, of Braille: The Early Life of Louis Braille and Johnny Tremain and a book on drama in the elementary school classroom. He has also edited eight anthologies of plays for young audiences, the latest being Nine Plays by José Cruz González Magical Realism and Mature Themes in Theatre for Young Audiences.
Jennings, who holds a Jesse H. Jones Professorship in Fine Arts, has received a Texas Educational Theatre Association Founder’s Award, is an inductee into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre of the Kennedy Center, and the College of Fellows of the Southwest Theatre Association, and in 1997 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. He is recipient of a Department of Theatre and Dance Teaching Excellence Award, as well as a College of Fine Arts Outstanding Professor Award.
In 2004, the Department of Theatre and Dance produced his The Honorable Urashima Taro during a national children's theatre symposium held at the university in honor of his 40th year on the faculty, which was attended by children's theatre experts from around the nation. In 2011, he was awarded an Orlin Corey Medallion of the Children's Theatre Foundation of America.