Update: Arts journalist Randy Gener survives vicious attack

Update: New details have emerged in the case of the assault on Randy Gener.

According to the article filed on GMA News by L. P. Pelayo, witnesses have come forward, and the person responsible for the injury to Gener has been identified. Witnesses including Leighton Jennings who caused the injury, claim that Gener was involved with a physical altercation with a woman on the street which evolved into a fight with Jennings in which Gener fell, cracking his head on the sidewalk. Jennings has been charged with third-degree assault misdemeanor and has been released from custody. According to the article, Gener, recovering from brain surgery, cannot remember the incident. Gener’s husband, Stephen Nisbet, said “he does deny that he has ever been aggressive or violent against women.”  Gener is facing additional surgery and at least a year of rehabilitation.

The following article was published January 28th based on the information released by police at that time.

A popular freelance arts journalist is spending the evening with the New York theatre community he loves. He is handsome, of Filipino heritage, slightly built, impeccably dressed and smiles easily. He attends the opening night of Machinal on Broadway, then on to the after party. It’s nearly 4 am when he heads to his home in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

There is a young man prowling the streets of Hell’s Kitchen that night. Who he is and what or who he loves and why he is out that night is, tragically, a complete mystery. All we know is he appeared, to an observer, to be Hispanic, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing perhaps 160 pounds and was wearing black jeans and a black jacket. What he is about to do is nearly incomprehensible.

The journalist stops to buy a magazine, thinking he’d check it out and perhaps pitch an article. He can see home up ahead. He is just a few steps from safety when he is savagely attacked, beaten with such strength that the blows cave in the side of his head. The attacker flees, leaving him unconscious in the middle of the street, in a pool of blood.

Randy Gener (Photo: Gil Seo)

Randy Gener (Photo: Gil Seo)

This occurred the evening of January 17th, and the journalist is Randy Gener, who some of you may know.

Here is how Sharon Adarlo from the Fil-Am Press Club describes Randy: “Straddling the worlds of theater, art, media, the LGBT and the Filipino American community, Gener is also an integral member of the Press Club’s special projects group. He is an awarding winning writer, editor, artist, and critic. He has written for various news outlets, including the New York Times, the Star-Ledger, and the Village Voice. He has penned plays such as Love Seats for Virginia Woolf and other works. Gener is also well known for his conceptual art and his exhibits on Filipino American history. He has lectured on various subjects across the world, from Kansas to India.”

To which we add that Randy has frequently been heard on NPR and was a senior editor of American Theatre Magazine where he specialized in international theater and where he was working when he won the prestigious Nathan Award for theatre criticism in 2008.

Randy was speaking at a conference of The American Theatre Critics Association when I first met him. He was charismatic and posed some provocative questions to the assembled writers. I invited him to speak to our DC Theatre Scene writers, and from there I became part of his expanding network. As a result of connecting with one of our writers, Hunter Styles, Randy recommended him to the editor of American Theatre magazine, which led to several assignments for Hunter. Randy freely responded to my questions, no matter where in the world I happened to find him.

I share part of his holiday email this year, describing how he spent 2013: “organizing a cultural event for the Swedish Embassy in the U.S.; participating in Theatre for the Voiceless symposium; remembering Nelson Mandela on Arise TV; producing a brunch meet-up with the cast of the Public Theater’s HERE LIES LOVE; and organizing an international journalism seminar at a Boston media conference.”

Against all odds, Randy has miraculously survived the brutal attack. He is in Intensive Care at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York, having undergone surgery to his shattered skull. His husband of 19 years, Stephen Nisbet, is with him. He is in stable condition, his motor skills are returning, and he will begin the long painful road to recovery which includes time in a rehabilitation facility and a second major surgery.

Friends and family held a prayer vigil Monday night. “I truly believe Randy is being healed by prayer.” Stephen told CBS/New York. People are also leaving messages on Randy Gener’s Facebook page. A fund has been set up to help pay for Randy’s rehabilitation expenses. Contributions can be made here. http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/for-randy-gener/130589. So far, 792 people have contributed over $40,000 to help with his recovery.

We urge anyone who knows anything about the attack that occurred on January 17th at West 54th Street and Seventh Avenue to call New York Police 800-577-TIPS. The police are widely distributing this sketch of the suspect.

Even as the community surrounds Randy and Stephen with love, the questions remain. Who was the attacker? What was in his mind? Was he driven by hate because Randy is gay? Or Filipino? Or seen as part of the gentrification happening in Hell’s Kitchen? Or, maybe even worse, did it not matter who he was? Was the attacker taking part in a “knockout game”?

Family and friends are looking for justice. We believe Randy would be the first to look for understanding.

Lorraine Treanor About Lorraine Treanor

Lorraine Treanor has been editor of DC Theatre Scene since 2006. She has produced plays and concerts in her hometown of Chicago, and twice in the Capital Fringe festival. Her daughter Nina Norris is an artist working in Chicago. Life's a blast because she shares it with writer Tim Treanor.


  1. concerned citizen says:

    Hi – there are several inaccuracies in this piece – only because the author is not from New York is that apparent. Randy & Stephen live in an apartment on seventh avenue on the same block as the Carnegie Deli, 3 blocks south of Carnegie Hall, and one block north of the Sheraton New York hotel. This is not Hells Kitchen, but that makes better copy.
    Okay so – Randy went to Machinal opening night performance – described here: http://www.wmagazine.com/culture/2014/01/machinals-opening-night/ – there was an hour and half delay in the performance.
    according to playbill – http://www.playbill.com/events/event_detail/25612-Machinal-at-American-Airlines-Theatre – the Show Run Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission. so 8pm start, delayed until 9:30 and then play ends at 11pm. Then the after party is held at American Airlines Theatre, near corner of seventh avenue and 42nd street. ten blocks south of Randy’s apartment on the same avenue. No need to involve Hell’s Kitchen at all. So – remember this was a Thursday (middle of work week) the after party conceivably could have run till 1:30am or 2am having started at 11:00pm. What was Randy doing for the two hours in the ten block distance from the party to his apartment? where was he stopping to buy a magazine for which to pitch an article at 3:00am? And now we see that the person who knocked him to the ground was defending his girlfriend after she was kicked by Randy….I think there are a lot of inconsistencies in your post and in light of changing information, you should back off the way you portray innocent Randy being jumped by a lone Hispanic wolf.

  2. Rosalind Lacy MacLennan says:

    I feel sickened by what has happened to Randy Gener in New York City and wish him a strong recovery. I remember him well, his generosity in sharing his insights into theatre reviewing with our theatre critic/reviewers at DCTheatrescene.com on June 26, 2010, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington D.C. I will never forget some of the advice he gave us, (“Show me something new!”), his referrals to other critics and scholars, like T.S. Eliot. His emphasis on the importance of research and theater history before you go into the theatre as a reviewer. And how it is important to share your subjective, gut-level reactions. God-speed your adventurous soul, Randy. No one can take away that reputation.
    Rosalind Lacy MacLennan/DC Theatrescene.com



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