Stop! Shakespeare, Boal, and the Italian Spect-actor

Robert Henke, Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature and Director of Graduate Studies, M.A. in Performance Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

During a time when many “England First” nationalists thought a “pure” national identity could be created by purging the nation of Italian influence, Shakespeare embraced Italian stories, plays, and theatrical ideas and, along with that, a humanistic spirit of curiosity, mobility, and open-mindedness. This talk considers the Italian “sources” of his plays, especially when Shakespeare departs from them, as resonant and playable alternatives, not unlike the interventions of the spect-actor in Augusto Boal’s Forum theater.   

About the Speaker:

Robert Henke is the author of four books on early modern theater and performance, most recently Shakespeare and Early Modern Italian Theatre: Scripts, Scenarios, and Stories, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2024.  He has edited four volumes, most recently A Cultural History of Theatre in the Early Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2017).  He is currently working on a translation and critical edition of the French scenarios of the Domenico Biancolelli: a renowned seventeenth-century Harlequin who was a contemporary of Molière. 


All colloquia events are free and open to the public