Shakespeare In Action

As you like it production photo

Housed in the College of Arts and Architecture, but working across colleges and disciplines (particularly the departments of English and Theatre), Shakespeare In Action (SIA) serves to advance and coordinate various activities and initiatives related to the production and exploration of Shakespeare’s work and that of his contemporaries. Its goal is to further the study and enjoyment of Renaissance/Early Modern drama and culture, particularly through performance, on campus and in the broader Charlotte community. SIA brings in guest speakers for lectures, round tables and colloquia; integrates live performance into campus learning; provides student scholarships and sponsors special classes, including a spring break program in England. SIA orchestrates student and faculty gatherings, is actively engaged in community outreach, engages with area schools, and is dedicated to fostering dialogue between experts in theatre, literature, history, art, psychology, music, education and other areas of art and material culture relevant to the study of Shakespeare’s works.

Coming this Spring! Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies Rob Conkie will direct the Department of Theatre’s production of Measure for Measure. His contemporary re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic production will meditate on the tragically timeless dimension of this comedy – on corruption of state from the top down, of dangerous desire, of violence, but also of determined faithfulness – and on Shakespeare as prophetic time-traveler.

by William Shakespeare
March 20-23, 2025
Anne R. Belk Theater, Robinson Hall

Shakespeare on Fire


In 2021, Dr. Rob Conkie, the new Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Theatre, participated in an international project about Shakespeare and the climate crisis, Cymbeline in the Anthropocene. For the project, Conkie directed Shakespeare’s late play, Cymbeline, at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia — one of seven different productions of Shakespeare’s play that took place in countries around the world. As the project launched, both Australia and California were battling massive climate-aggravated fires, so fire became central to Conkie’s production.

Conkie is now developing a book – in comics form – that presents and reflects upon that production, digressing from accounts of the play on the stage to meditate upon the global crisis of wildfire. It is provisionally entitled Shakespeare on Fire: Cymbeline in the Anthropocene in the Antipodes.

In two events in the fall of 2023, Conkie workshopped the book and instigated discussions about topics ranging from Shakespeare performance to graphic novels to artistic approaches to the climate crisis. With the help of student actors and faculty colleagues, Conkie presented in a unique format: a performative comic book, in which pages from his book were projected while he and the actors voiced narration and characters to tell the story and consider its impact.

Stay tuned for more Shakespeare on Fire explorations!


Shakespeare in Action was established by Dr. Andrew Hartley, UNC Charlotte’s first Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies, with Professor of English Kirk Melnikoff. SIA’s activities are funded in part by the chaired position’s endowment. In Spring 2022, Dr. Hartley retired from UNC Charlotte, and in Fall 2023, the College of Arts + Architecture welcomed Dr. Rob Conkie as the new Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies.

Between 2010 and 2016, SIA’s various activities coalesced into a single project called “36 in 6,” the mission of which was to host an event connected to each play in the Shakespeare cannon in the 6-year period leading up to the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23rd, 2016. In keeping with SIA’s previous work, these events took different forms—lectures by professors with particular expertise in the selected play, staged readings, theatre department productions, and guest productions—all culminating in a gala event built around As You Like It.

SIA was on hiatus for the 2016-17 academic year while Dr. Hartley was away on reassignment of duties. In 2017-18 SIA helped fund the Actors From the London Stage’s visiting production of Measure for Measure, and donated scholarship money to the Shakespeare in England study abroad course. In Fall 2018, the Department of Theatre presented Twelfth Night, directed by Dr. Hartley and in Fall 2021 produced the audio play, The Corona Caesar, adapted and directed by Dr. Hartley.

During the 2022 Spring semester, prior to retiring from UNC Charlotte, Dr. Hartley organized “Shakespeare and Inclusivity: a semester-long case study of The Merchant of Venice.” The project included lectures, public readings, a workshop, a film screening, and a study tour to Washington, D.C.