The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu

Harley Erdman

Professor | Dramaturgy

(413) 577-6203

Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts, Room 103


B.A., Swarthmore College
M.A., University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D., Theater History and Dramatic Criticism, University of Texas at Austin

Harley Erdman is a dramaturg, playwright, and scholar whose work focuses on adaptation and translation. He teaches courses in dramaturgy, adaptation, and many aspects of theater history, from Renaissance theater to contemporary performance. His commissioned work as a translator of contemporary Latin American theater includes plays from Mexico, Nicaragua, and Chile. His Women Playwrights of Early Modern Spain (ITER, 2016) features his translations of ten plays, for the first time ever in English. It won the Josephine Roberts Award for best scholarly edition in the field of early modern women and gender. His translations of Tirso de Molina’s Jealous of Herself and Marta the Divine were published in companion volumes by Aris & Phillips. With Susan Paun de García, he co-edited the anthology of essays Remaking the Comedia (Tamesis, 2015). His edition of Luis Vélez de Guevara’s La serrana de la Vera was published by the University of Liverpool Press in 2019 and produced at UMass under the title Wild Thing. Currently he is working on an edition of plays by converso (Jewish-heritage) writers of 17th-century Spain. He is a winner of the Association for Hispanic Classic Theater's Translation Prize.

Erdman has also published many articles on the history of Jewish representation on the American stage, as well as the book Staging the Jew (Rutgers, 1997). His article on the Yiddish play God of Vengeance won the Kahan Prize for Outstanding Essay (2000) from the American Society for Theater Research.

His dramatic writing projects focus on rebels and outsiders in local history. These include the opera librettos The Scarlet Professor (2017) and The Garden of Martyrs (2013), both with composer Eric Sawyer; The Captivation of Eunice Williams (2004), with composer Paula Kimper; as well as the screwball comedy Nobody’s Girl, which debuted at the Northampton Academy of Music in 2014. The Scarlet Professor won the 2019 American Prize for composers of opera. His cabaret musical, My Evil Twin, in collaboration with Sawyer, has toured Fringe festivals in the U.S. and Canada.

Erdman has taught in Scotland, El Salvador and Sri Lanka – in the latter country, as part of a 2016 Fulbright Fellowship. He has taught many times in the UMass-affiliated summer course at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the UMass College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and has twice chaired the UMass Department of Theater.