Department of Theatre

Paul Castagno

Paul Castagno Wins Major Award at Oslo International Theater Festival

This Spring, Professor Castagno helmed and sound designed the successful departmental production of Hedda Gabler which StarNews described as “thoughtfully and precisely directed.” This summer he will be conducting playwriting workshops at KHiO for the Oslo International Acting Festival. In April 2019, on our Mainstage theatre, he will direct  the North American Premiere of Darkness, a play collectively written by 5 Nordic playwrights as part of the EU Collective Play Project. In the last two years he has published in Theatre Journal, Korean Theatre Journal, Theatre Times, The International Journal of Arts and Humanities, and has articles forthcoming in Praxis, and a new anthology on contemporary playwriting published by Methuen. He is under contract now with Waveland Press for a new book, Playwriting Intensive. In June 2017, he was invited by Theatre Grob (Copenhagen) where he gave workshops and a master class at the Royal Danish Theatre. During this trip abroad, Dr. Castagno presented at Oxford University’s Theatre in Translation conference, presiding at a stage reading of Darkness, and in Hamburg at the Theatre Welt festival.

His widely cited book New Playwriting Strategies: Language and Media in the 21st Century published by Routledge, 2012, provided the basis for the EUCP grant, and its theories and techniques of polyvocality and hybrid plays are at the heart of the EUCP mission. (He is currently involved as editor of EUCP anthology.) New Playwriting Strategies (and its earlier edition) has had a continuing impact on contemporary playwriting in the US, Europe, and Australia, forming the basis for graduate theses and dissertations. The book’s two editions have been translated into Persian (Iran) where they are extensively adopted in graduate and undergraduate programs. In the summers of 2015-2016, Dr. Castagno worked in Italy, delivering a lecture on Polyvocal Theatre at the world-renowned Piccolo Teatro in 2015 as part of Tramadautore, Milan’s World Expo 2015; in 2016, he participated in an EU Collective play development workshop at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, Italy. He then presented his research at a press conference at the British Council in Rome, including his 2016 publication of “Postdramatic and Polyvocal Trends in Contemporary Italian Theatre,” in the prestigious international journal TheatreForum.

 He served as a Fulbright Scholar in 2014 at the Borthwick Archives at the University of York, UK, where he researched the plays and productions of Sir Alan Ayckbourn, delivering lectures at universities in England, Wales and Scotland. Dr. Castagno is the first professor from UNCW to win a Fulbright to the UK.  At UNCW, Dr. Castagno directed and sound designed the departmental production of Ayckbourn’s Private Fears in Public Places. Past directing and sound design stints at UNCW include: Burial at Thebes, Middletown, Margo Veil, Dead Man’s Cellphone, Troy Women, and Scapino, which was the inaugural production in the SRO theatre. His productions have received numerous nominations for the annual, Best of Wilmington Theatre Awards.

 His major book on the commedia dell' arte (The Early Commedia dell'Arte 1550-1621: The Mannerist Context) is a model for interdisciplinary studies, and was reviewed by JDTC as a "canonical work." Earlier career publications in journals, include: Theatre Topics, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre History Studies, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, and others, including seminal anthologies such as, Dramaturgy in American Theatre: A Sourcebook and Teaching Theatre. Castagno was founding editor of the annual, Theatre Symposium, now in its 26th edition. He published the groundbreaking volume, Voice of the Dramaturg in 1995 and followed the next year with a definitive volume on the Renaissance theatre building. In 2007, he published the first online introduction to theatre text: Theatre Beyond: A Cyber Journey through the World of Theatre with Kendall Hunt and Great River Technologies. His groundbreaking edition of New Playwriting Strategies: A Language Based Approach (2001) was described as the “new poetics” by renowned dramaturgy, Mark Bly, and has been lauded by esteemed professional playwrights such as Young Jean Lee, who credits it with giving her a method to create her first successful experimental play. Choice described it as: “far exceeding its genre.” To fund his research, he has been a successful grant writer: including, the Fulbright Award, Baker award, Franklin award, and numerous others.     New Playwrighting Strategies book cover

Dr. Castagno is the recipient of numerous teaching awards and grants, including three ETEAL teaching awards to incorporate active learning into his online teaching. He contributed the presentation: “Monologue and Metadata” after his participation in a weeklong workshop, “Beyond Access” at the Folger Institute in Washington DC—and now incorporates their groundbreaking early modern digital anthology into his theatre history online classes. His popular THR/CRW 316 playwriting course teaches the fundamentals of craft toward focusing the student’s creativity. He has been a proponent of online teaching methods for many years, working with ALRC, and MERLOT as a reviewer of learning objects and online platforms.

Professor Castagno was the founding chair of the Department of Theatre from 2005-2009. His notable achievements include the execution of the theatre portion of the Cultural Arts Building. Fundraising efforts helped to establish the Doug Swink Award, The Pat Hingle Guest Artist Award, and Nikkita Johnson endowment.

Dr. Castagno came to UNCW in 2005 from Ohio University where he served as Director of the School of Theater and Head of the M.A. Programs. As an administrator, Castagno has presided over and written successful regional and NAST accreditations, served as an onsite reviewer in the US and Canada, and published two articles in The Department Chair. He served as producer for numerous productions at Ohio University and here, at UNCW.

During his tenure at the University of Alabama, from 1989-2001, he headed the M.F.A. Playwriting/Dramaturgy Program and was director of the New Playwrights Program where he developed the work of major American playwrights. For many years a ‘gigging’ musician, Paul plays electric bass and acoustic guitar and vocals, and believes his sound designs are a crucial component in the productions he has directed. StarNews said of Hedda Gabler: “Director Castagno underscores key moments of the play with music -- droning and haunting at times, lugubrious and soap-opera-esque at others -- and it helps give the play a cinematic quality.” His 2016 sound design of Burial at Thebes was nominated for a Best of Wilmington award.

Castagno received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University with prior graduate work at Stanford University, and completed his B.F.A. from the University of Connecticut, studying with designer/mentor Jerry Rojo during his seminal period working with Richard Schechner and the Performance Group. He is the proud father of three sons.

Paul Castagno lecture PTRS Paul Castagno Masterclass in polyvocal playwriting
Dr. Castagno presenting a paper on the EU Collective Play Project and New Play Development at the PTRS Conference in Philadelphia, May 2017.
Dr. Paul Castagno conducting master class in polyvocal playwriting
at the Royal Danish Theatre Copenhagen as part of CPH international theatre festival, June 2017.

Paul Castagno and Alan Ayckbournwith playwright Alan Ayckbourn at his home in Scarsborough, England

Swansea Mumblesdinner at Mumbles with Swansea University department heads

Swansea University lecturelecturing to students at Swansea University