Robert Shimko is the director of the UH School of Theatre & Dance and the executive director of the Houston Shakespeare Festival (HSF). He also heads the B.F.A. degree in playwriting/dramaturgy and the M.A. degree in theatre studies. His teaching areas include: theatre history, dramaturgy, playwriting, theatre theory and dramatic structure. In 2012 he received the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award, one of UH’s highest faulty honors. He received his Ph.D. in theatre historiography from the University of Minnesota in 2006.
Shimko’s research interests include 17th-century theatre historiography, political drama in the English Civil War and Restoration periods, dramaturgical theory and, most recently, the representation of seduction in Western drama. He is the co-editor, with Sara Freeman, of a book of essays connecting theatre history with public sphere theory titled “Public Theatres and Theatre Publics” (Cambridge Scholars, 2012). Shimko’s scholarly writing has also been published in Theatre History Studies, Theatre Journal and Theatre Topics, as well as in the books “Theatre History: Critical Questions,” “Querying Difference in Theatre History” and “The Wiley Encyclopedia of British Literature 1660 – 1789.” He is a recipient of the Robert A. Schanke Theatre Research Award from the Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC). He also served a two-year term as the co-chair for the theatre history symposium of MATC and currently co-chairs the Articles-in-Progress and “Pitch Your Book” workshops at MATC. Since 2013 he has served as the Book Review Editor for the journal Theatre History Studies. He also serves on the research committee of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). Shimko regularly presents papers at national and international academic conferences and has been an invited guest lecturer at Louisiana State University, Hamline University, Houston Grand Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Rienzi Museum and the Texas Educational Theatre Association.
In addition to his role as the executive director of HSF, Shimko also serves as the festival’s literary director. He is also the company dramaturg for The Catastrophic Theatre, Houston’s leading avant-garde theatre company. Additional professional dramaturgy credits include productions at the Alley Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, Harlem Stage, Classical Theatre Company, Stark Naked Theatre and Stages Repertory Theatre, among others. In 2013 he was the invited dramaturgy respondent for Region V of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Shimko also has a background in directing. Favorite productions include “The Rehearsal,” “Henry VI Part 2,” “The Government Inspector,” “On the Verge,” “The Futurist Project” and the premieres of various UH student-written plays, including “Thicker than Honey,” “Cuckoo,” “The End of Side A,” “Brick Wall” and “The Narrator.” His own play, “Specks,” is available for production through Samuel French, Inc.