Scholarly Publishing, a Broadway Debut and a New Opera for Villanova Theatre Faculty

The Villanova Department of Theatre and Studio Art boasts faculty who are accomplished scholars in the field and acclaimed practitioners of the craft. This spring, Associate Professor James Ijames, MFA, debuted his Pulitzer-winning play FAT HAM on Broadway; Associate Professor Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD, published two articles in scholarly journals; Assistant Professor Bess Rowen, PhD, edited and contributed an introduction to a revised edition of A Streetcar Named Desire; and Assistant Professor Peter Hilliard, BM, MFA, composed a new opera, Inbox Zero.

James Ijames, associate professor of Theatre

Broadway Debut for Pulitzer Prize-Winning Theatre Professor

Villanova Theatre Associate Professor James Ijames, MFA, won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play FAT HAM. On April 12, 2023, FAT HAM debuts on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in New York.

FAT HAM a “loose,” according to the playwright, adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, premiered as a digital production during COVID in 2021 in collaboration with The Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, where Ijames is co-artistic director. It was performed live at the New york City Public Theatre before its Broadway run. Learn more about FAT HAM on Broadway.

Ijames was featured in the Villanova University President's Report 2021-2022: Scholarship and Innovation. The article chronicles Ijames career and accolades and describes the impact his work makes in the theatre world and our greater society. Read more about Ijames in the President's Report.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is given to a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life. Read more about Ijames Pulitzer Prize award for FAT HAM.

Ijames was recently profiled by Philadelphia Magazine's Victor Fiorillo. The piece touches on Ijames recent success and delightfully dives into his background, inspirations and personal life. Read the article in Philadelphia Magazine.

Learn more about Villanova's Graduate Programs in Theatre.

Associate Professor Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD

Phillips Publishes Two Papers in Scholarly Journals

What does Ophelia carry with her on stage in Act 4, scene 5 of Hamlet? Theatre Associate Professor Chelsea Phillips, MFA, PhD, along with Theatre graduate student coauthors Kenzie Lynn Bradley, Veshonte Brown, Luke Davis, Kate Fischer, Alycia Gonzalez, J. Bean Schwab, Timothy Storey and Sarah Stryker explore this question in depth in their paper, "The Dramaturgy of Ophelia’s Bouquet," which was published in the journal Shakespeare.

Ophelia names a variety of botanicals, but theatre productions have often replaced these with many other items. The essay details a series of staging experiments conducted in the authors' graduate Shakespeare class to investigate the dramaturgical possibilities of Ophelia’s bouquet, asking how these items shape our perception and understanding of Ophelia, her mental state and place within the play. Read the article in Shakespeare.

Dr. Phillips also published an article titled "Accommodations for Pregnancy and Childbirth on the Late eighteenth-Century London Stage" in the Spring 2023 issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies. The piece draws on a close examination of surviving financial, biographical and repertory records and demonstrates the existence of a number of accommodations for childbearing women at Covent Garden and Drury Lane between 1768 and 1800, including paid leave policies and repertory changes. It dispels assumptions about working women and pregnancy, proves that the late eighteenth-century theatre had a more generous paid family leave policy than most U.S. citizens enjoy today. Read the article in Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Dr. Phillips is the author of Carrying All Before Her: Celebrity Pregnancy and the London Stage, 1689-1800. The book investigates the rise of celebrity stage actresses in the 18th century and the considerable scrutiny they faced in their offstage lives. Learn more about Villanova Theatre faculty and student research.

Villanova Theatre Assistant Professor Bess Rowen, PhD

Rowen Adds New Analysis to American Classic

Villanova Theatre Assistant Professor Bess Rowen, PhD, edited and contributed a new introduction to revised student edition published by Methuen Drama of Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.

Rowan's introduction looks in particular at the play's treatment of rape, vulnerable people, mental institutions (especially in connection to Williams's own family), sexuality and sexual desire.

Learn more about Rowan's work for this new edition of A Streetcar Named Desire.

 Peter Hilliard, BM, MFA

Hilliard Composes New Opera, Inbox Zero

Assistant Professor Peter Hilliard, BM, MFA, was the composer for a new opera, Inbox Zero, with his longtime collaborator and librettist Matt Boresi. The opera was commissioned by UrbanArias and debuts May 4 at the Keegan Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Inbox Zero, a operatic monodrama, follows Jackie, a man who falls for an internet get-rich-quick scheme as he tries to provide for his family. Inbox Zero is the third commission for Hilliard and Boresi from UrbanArias. Read more about this new opera and the collaboration process from Classical Music Communications.


Learn more about Villanova's Graduate Programs in Theatre.

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