NEW YORK (April 19, 2001) — It was announced today that Jeffrey Eric Jenkins has accepted the position of editor of the Best Plays series, the annual chronicle of United States theater founded by Burns Mantle in 1920. Mr. Jenkins is the sixth editor of the series. He succeeds Otis L. Guernsey Jr., who edited an unprecedented 36 volumes of the annual publication. (Mr. Guernsey died suddenly on May 2, just weeks after this release was issued.)

“I am delighted that a critic of Mr. Jenkins’ stature and achievement wants to carry on the series,” said Mr. Guernsey. He also wanted his friends in the New York City press offices to know that all programs, photos and other materials relating to the 2000-2001 season have been turned over to Mr. Jenkins. Future information and invitations for Best Plays should be addressed to the new editor (see below).

The 2000-2001 edition of the book marks its 82nd consecutive year of publication. In addition to Messrs. Mantle and Guernsey, past editors include John Chapman, Louis Kronenberger and Henry Hewes. Mr. Hewes will serve as a consultant to the new editor.

Best Plays is widely regarded in the theater community as a comprehensive and indispensable tool providing important perspective on the annual theater season in New York and around the country. In addition, the compendium of statistics packed into the book’s 600 pages is an encyclopedic guide to who did what on Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway and in theaters large and small across the United States. It is an important acquisition for theater lovers, librarians, artists, historians and educators.

A sampling of what theater professionals have said about Best Plays:

“The record provided by Best Plays is one of the only ways any of us know we were even here.” — Jane Martin

“The Best Plays yearbook has always been my favorite spot in any library. I used to get lost in its wonderful albums of photos, charts and good old fashioned Broadway lore for hours on end. Now that I’ve got my own Best Plays yearbook shelf, I get blissfully lost right here at home.” —Wendy Wasserstein

“Is there a more complete and useful record of each year’s American theater life? I doubt it.” —Edward Albee

Best Plays is the theatrical community’s Bible. We’d be lost without it.” — Jerry Herman

Jeffrey Eric Jenkins served as associate editor to Mr. Guernsey on the 1999–2000 edition of Best Plays and contributed an essay chronicling the Broadway and Off Broadway season. Mr. Jenkins is chairman of the American Theatre Critics Association and continues to write about New York and national theater events for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer—as he has since 1996. He serves as a judge for the American Theatre Wing’s Hewes Design Awards and sits on the boards of the American Theatre and Drama Society and the Theater Hall of Fame. From 1995 to 2000 he was managing editor of Theatre Topics, a Johns Hopkins University Press journal. In addition to the publications mentioned above, Mr. Jenkins has written theater criticism and essays for Seattle Weekly, Northwest Monthly, The New York Times, Theatre Journal, Slavic and East European Performance, Back Stage, Variety, Stagebill, Theater Week, Periphery and Continuum’s Companion to Twentieth Century Theater. Mr. Jenkins received his theater education at Carnegie Mellon University and San Francisco State University. He was a member of the management team for Peter Brook’s productions of The Mahabharata and The Cherry Orchard at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and founded Stage Five Productions in 1988. He has taught theater and drama at Carnegie Mellon, the University of Washington and SUNY–Stony Brook. Since 1998, he has been a faculty member in the Drama Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“It is very exciting for me,” said Mr. Jenkins, “to have an opportunity to build on the traditions established by Otis Guernsey, Henry Hewes and Burns Mantle. Best Plays has provided countless hours of pleasure to theater lovers for more than 80 years. It has served as the springboard for the theatrical imaginations of three generations of theater people—actors, directors, playwrights, designers, producers and critics alike. I am happy to count Mr. Guernsey and Mr. Hewes among my advisors as we continue to develop the living record of the American theater. It is equally gratifying that a superb group of theater writers and editors has agreed to join my editorial board. Their dedication to theater in the United States is widely known and they have my deepest thanks.”

Joining the Best Plays editorial board are Robert Brustein, Tish Dace, Christine Dolen, Mel Gussow, Robert Hurwitt, John Istel, Chris Jones, Julius Novick, Michael Phillips, Christopher Rawson, Alisa Solomon, Jeffrey Sweet, Linda Winer and Charles Wright.

Best Plays will use the Web address of

New mailing address:
Jeffrey Eric Jenkins
Best Plays
825 President Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215-1405
Phone: 718-789-5553
Fax: 718-789-9025

More of Best Plays Online:

 Best Plays Home Page

 The Best Plays of 2000-2001

 From the Best Plays Photo Archives

Founding Editor Burns Mantle

 Former Editor John Chapman