Paul Nelsen


Paul Nelsen has extensive experience acting and directing at all levels, including more than 300 stage productions, from student efforts to professional Actors’ Equity casts. Some representative directed works include King Lear, Antigone, Hecuba, Lion in Winter, Ubu Roi, Shadow of a Gunman, Dido and Aeneus and Dancing at Lughnasa. Paul has also directed several original scripts, industrial films and videos, as well as two national touring companies of A Peasant of El Salvador. He was one of 12 college professors featured in the 1995-96 Shakespeare in Performance Institute, sponsored in by the National Endowment for the Humanities at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. At Marlboro, Paul brought his wealth of experience into the classroom, where he taught on subjects relating to performance, performance history, and performance theory.

  • Paul Nelsen


  • A.B., Lafayette College, 1969
  • M.F.A., Brandeis University, 1971

At Marlboro since


Teaching Philosophy

“I love the challenge of exploring how theater intersects with diverse territories of study,” says Paul. “It draws together so many different areas of learning and experience, from the historical to the technological, from the pragmatic to the spiritual.” He endeavored to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to expand and develop their artistic interests, whether it be through acting, directing, scriptwriting, designing, or dramaturgical analysis. To Paul, the discipline embraces “such a wide range of knowledge and skills that the study of theater represents in itself a pursuit of liberal education.”

Scholarly Activities

Paul has published more than 80 articles and reviews in leading Shakespeare and theater journals and his essays are included in several books. Book reviews in Choice, the magazine of the American Library Association, include The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Drama, Michelle O’Callaghan’s volume on Thomas Middleton, Renaissance Dramatist, Freddie Rokem’s Philosophers and Thesbians: Thinking Performance (Cultural Memory in the Present), and Women as Hamlet by Tony Howard. He co-edited a volume of essays called Acts of Criticism: Performance Matters in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (Associated University Press, 2006). In 2008, Paul conducted manuscript assessment projects for Bedford St. Martin Publishers and Associated University Press, and he has served on the editorial board of Shakespeare Bulletin.

Since 1989, Paul has been director of London Theatre Seminars, biannual seminars that draw participants from all over the United States and Canada. Seminar sessions include interview exchanges with celebrated guest actors, directors, critics, and scholars as well as with seminar participants. From 1992 to ’99 he served on the academic advisory board supporting the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, now a very successful arts enterprise in London, and subsequently on research advisory board for the Globe.

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