Stuart Hecht

Stuart Hecht is a historian and dramaturg. Stuart received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s and doctorate from Northwestern University. He worked on the artistic staff of the Goodman Theatre and was resident dramaturg for the Wisdom Bridge Theatre, both in Chicago. He has worked with a range of prominent theatre artists, included Bob Falls, Gregory Mosher, David Mamet, Wole Soyinka, Frank Galati, Shozo Sato and Del Close, to name a few. Articles about his pioneering Chicago dramaturgical work have appeared in publications ranging from The Chicago Tribune to Yale University’s Theater. This included his work as dramaturg on the American premiere of Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.

Stuart is an American theatre historian who has worked extensively in Chicago theatre history as well as on assimilation and the American musical. He has published over thirty scholarly articles, both here and abroad, as well as chapters in seven major books (on a variety of topics). His articles have appeared in Theatre Journal, The Journal of American Theatre and Drama, Theatre History Studies, Chicago History, The Sondheim Review, American Theatre, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Theatre Survey and The Journal of Popular Culture, and, most recently, the Thornton Wilder Journal, among many others. He is the long-standing Editor-in-Chief of New England Theatre Journal and is also an editorial board member for Studies in Musical Theatre, Theatre Annual and the Journal of American Drama and Theatre. Stuart sits on the Board of the New England Theatre Conference and was named to its College of Fellows, served five consecutive terms as an officer of the American Theatre and Drama Society, was a board member of the Chicago Theatre History Project. Stuart was an advisory board member for, and also appeared as an interviewee in, the Peabody Award-winning PBS documentary, “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy,” which grew in part out of his research and writing. He has also been interviewed on National Public Radio and appeared in several additional PBS programs.

In 2020 Stuart was named a Fellow of the Mid-America Theatre Conference and also served as Respondent for their entire conference earlier that same year. He also serves on the theatre board of the Boston-based JArts and helped develop, and acted in, its Zoom/YouTube theatrepiece Bintel Briefs which, beginning in late 2020, spent three months as recommended theatre viewing by The Boston Globe. In 2022 Stuart was selected to become a Fellow of the American Theatre (of the Kennedy Center).

Stuart has presented over a hundred talks and papers at national conferences, organized several conferences, served as an evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts and was also briefly a member of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards committee. His book Transposing Broadway: Jews, Assimilation and the American Musical, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011, received Recommended status by the Journal CHOICE, and was later released in paperback. He co-authored Makeshift Chicago Theatre: a Century of Theatre and Performance, published by Northwestern University Press in 2021; it also received Recommended status by CHOICE, and was named as a Finalist in the category Excellence in Editing by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Stuart is currently writing a book on Jane Addams’ Hull House social settlement theatre and its progressive legacy of women, immigration and community. Stuart has worked at Boston College since 1986 where he has taught classes in directing, playwriting, dramatic literature and theatre history. He directed twenty-four productions at Boston College, supervised over seventy student productions (including two that won KC/ACTF’s national competition), and oversaw over fifty student independent studies, research and honors projects. Stuart was Founding Chair of the Boston College Theatre Department, a position he held for thirteen years.