Harley Erdman is a translator, theater historian, playwright, and dramaturg with specialties in Jewish-American theater and Spanish and Latin American theater. He has published numerous articles on the history of Jewish representation on the American stage, as well as the book Staging the Jew. His article on the Yiddish play God of Vengeance won the Kahn Award for Outstanding Essay from the American Society for Theater Research.
His commissioned work as a translator of contemporary Latin American theater includes work from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Chile. He has also translated Spanish Golden Age plays by Calderón, Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina. His translations of Tirso's Jealous of Herself and Marta the Divine were published by Aris & Phillips. He is currently working on a collection of translations of plays by 17th-century Spanish women, and co-editing an anthology of essays about stage adaptation. He is a winner of the Association for Hispanic Classic Theater's Translation Prize.
He wrote the libretto for Paula Kimper’s opera The Captivation of Eunice Williams, showcased at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Currently, he is working on a new opera with composer Eric Sawyer, based on Michael C. White’s historical novel The Garden of Martyrs.
Projects in and around the Department include Marta the Divine, with director and colleague Gina Kaufmann (later showcased at the Chamizal Siglo de Oro Festival); Life is a Dream and Suitors, with director Kara-Lynn Vaeni; Archipelago of Delight, a puppet-theater piece with colleague Miguel Romero.
Erdman has served as Editor of the journal Theatre Topics, and received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. He chaired the UMass Department of Theater, 2002-2007.