Arnold Johnston lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he was chairman of the English Department at Western Michigan University (1997-2007) and has now returned to teaching in the creative writing program. His plays, and others written in collaboration with his wife, Deborah Ann Percy, have won awards, production, and publication across the country. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared widely in literary journals. His books include a collection of poetry, What the Earth Taught Us (March Street Press, 1996), The Witching Voice: A Play About Robert Burns (WMU Press, 1973), and Of Earth and Darkness: The Novels of William Golding (University of Missouri, 1980). Johnston’s The Witching Voice: A Novel About Robert Burns will be published in 2009—for the 250th anniversary of Burns’ birth—by Wings Press (San Antonio). Johnston and Percy’s translations (in collaboration with Dona Roşu) of two long one-acts—Night of the Passions and Sons of Cain—by Romanian playwright Hristache Popescu were published in Bucharest (1999) by Editura HP, as was an English-Romanian edition of his and Percy’s full-length play Rasputin in New York (with Romanian translation by Dona Roşu and Luciana Costea). Rasputin was also produced to critical acclaim in 1999 by the Whole Art Theatre at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Lake Auditorium and by Love Creek Productions at New York City’s Theatre Row Studios.
Johnston is an experienced actor-singer, having performed nearly 100 roles on stage and radio, as well as many concerts. On his 1997 compact disc recording Jacques Brel: I’m Here! (Western Michigan University) he performs his own translations of songs by the noted Belgian singer-songwriter. Four revues featuring his Brel translations have been staged in New York, as well as others in Chicago (recognized by four Jefferson Award nominations) and Kalamazoo; a brand new Chicago revue is scheduled for summer 2008. A recipient in 1986 of Kalamazoo’s Community Medal of Arts, Johnston is also a member of the Dramatists Guild and has been a resident playwright with both the Off-Off Broadway theatre company AAI Productions and Kalamazoo’s Actors and Playwrights Initiative (API). Johnston and Percy’s full-length play Traveling to Tulum won high critical praise when premiered by API in March-April 2000 at Kalamazoo’s Epic Center. Since 2001 nine of their radio dramas have been broadcast on WMUK-FM as part of the Kalamazoo Arts Council’s All Ears Theatre series. In 2004 their full-length play Small Slam, part of a “Detroit trilogy” that includes Beyond Sex and the award-winning The Zamboni Situation, received a New York staging by Developing Act Theatre Company; Slam also received a reading in 2008 at NYC’s Workshop Theatre. Their most recent stage projects are a full-length translation/ adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker and a historical drama, Out in the Forty-Five, about Scotland’s Jacobite Rebellion. Their edited anthology entitled The Art of the One-Act appeared in 2007 from New Issues Poetry and Prose.
Wings: A Literary Press
March Street Press
New Issues Poetry & Prose
University of Missouri
Editura Mica Valahie
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