Department of Theatre

Paul Castagno

Professor Castagno recently published “Postdramatic and Polyvocal Trends in Contemporary Italian Theatre,” in the prestigious international journal, TheatreForum. He is currently involved as editor with the EU Collective Plays project, which is integrating the theories and techniques in his widely cited book New Playwriting Strategies: Language and Media in the 21st Century, published by Routledge in 2012. This book (and its earlier edition) has had a continuing impact on contemporary playwriting in both the US, Europe, and Australia, and has also formed the basis for graduate theses and dissertations. 

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.

Dr. Castagno worked the past two summers in Italy, delivering a lecture at the world-renowned Piccolo Teatro in 2015 as part of Tramadautore, Milan’s World Expo 2015, and most recently participated in an EU Collective play development workshop at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, Italy, later presenting his recent research at a press conference at the British Council in Rome. 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 the departmental production of Ayckbourn’s Private Fears in Public Places. Other directing 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. 

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

Castagno Book

His earlier 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." In addition to TheatreForum, he has published articles in journals 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 first edition of New Playwriting Strategies (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.

Dr. Castagno is the recipient of two ETEAL teaching awards in 2016 toward developing an online theatre history component for the department that involves active learning student visits to archives and professional LORT theatres. In the summer of 2016, he contributed a presentation, “Monologue and Metadata,” in a weeklong workshop, Beyond Access, at the Folger Institute in Washington DC, regarding teaching applications of the their groundbreaking early modern digital anthology. He has developed writing-intensive curricula in dramatic literature, creating courses on UK and Irish theatre and plays of the American Canon. His 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 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 enjoys integrating music and sound into the productions he has directed.

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.