Department of Theatre

Paul Castagno

Professor Paul Castagno in Theatre recently published this major international work on playwriting with Routledge the leading publisher in Theatre Studies.

Paul Castagno Wins Major Award at Oslo International Theater Festival

Professor Castagno recently edited and published Collaborative Playwriting: Polyvocal Approaches from the EU Collective Plays Project (Routledge 2020), which represented the largest new play project in theatre history involving over 35 countries. He directed and designed sound for the Nordic group collective play Darkness: The Enemy Inside here at UNCW in 2019 working with Norwegian videographer, Sabina Jacobbsen. The 2018 winner of the prestigious Oslo International Festival of Acting Award for his work on contemporary playwriting he was also honored with a Festschrift published by KHIO, the major Art and Theatre academy in Oslo, Norway. In 2018 he helmed and sound designed the successful departmental production of Hedda Gabler which StarNews described as “thoughtfully and precisely directed.” In the last two years he has published in Theatre Journal, Korean Theatre Journal, Theatre Times, The International Journal of Arts and Humanities, and Praxis. In June 2017, he was invited by Theatre Grob (Copenhagen) giving 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 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. 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, and delivered lectures on Alan Ayckbourn at universities in England, Wales and Scotland. His directing work at UNCW includes Ayckbourn’s Private Fears in Public Places, Burial at Thebes, Middletown, Margo Veil, Dead Man’s Cellphone, Troy Women, and Scapino, which was the inaugural production in the SRO theatre. He also served as sound designer in these productions.

His widely cited 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." Publication 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

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, Baker, and Franklin awards.
Dr. Castagno received 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—as an outcome he incorporates early modern digital anthology into his theatre history classes.

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 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 the late Jerry Rojo during his seminal period working with Richard Schechner and the Performance Group which sparked his interest in becoming an artist/scholar in theatre. He is now completing a new book on playwriting for Waveland Press.


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