Matthew Spangler

Matthew Spangler

Professor, Communication Studies





Preferred: (408) 924-1373


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Performance Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004
  • Master of Philosophy, Theatre, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 2000
  • Bachelor of Science, Performance Studies, Northwestern University, 1996


Dr. Spangler teaches courses in performance studies. His areas of research and creative work focus on immigration studies, intercultural performance, cultural globalization, Irish studies, documentary theatre techniques, and the adaptation of non-dramatic texts for the stage.

He has published articles in a number of journals and books, some of which include: Theatre Journal, The James Joyce Quarterly, Text and Performance Quarterly, The New Hibernia Review, Theatre Annual, Nineteenth Century Literature, SIAR: The Journal of the Western Institute of Irish Studies, The South Atlantic Review, The Biographical Dictionary of Southern Writers, The Art of Elizabeth Bishop, and Performing the Crossroads: Critical Essays in Performance Studies and Irish CultureHis book Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives (co-edited with Charlotte McIvor) was published by Cork University Press in 2014.

Dr. Spangler is also an award-winning playwright and theatre director. His plays have been produced on London's West End (Wyndham's Theatre and the London Playhouse), off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatre, at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, San Diego Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse (staged reading), New Repertory Theatre (Boston), Theatre Calgary, Citadel Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Liverpool Playhouse, Brighton Festival, the National Steinbeck Center, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Avignon Theatre Festival, among other theatres and festivals. His adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner received five San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Awards: Best Original Script, Best Overall Production for a 300+ seat theatre, as well as awards for Lighting Design, Scenic Design, and Sound Design (produced by the San Jose Repertory Theatre; directed by David Ira Goldstein).  The Kite Runner play was published by Penguin Press in 2018:

His other plays include Tortilla Curtain, adapted from the novel by T.C. Boyle, which received an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and was a finalist for the San Diego Theatre Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play; Albatross, based on the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which received Boston’s Elliot Norton Theatre Awards for Outstanding Production by a Small Theatre and Outstanding Solo Performance; and Operation Ajax , which tells the story of the CIA coup in Iran in 1953. Other works include one-person shows of James Joyce’s Dubliners and Finnegans WakeA Paradise It Seems, an adaptation of John Cheever’s short stories; Mozart!, a musical theatre adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s letters; as well as stage adaptations of John Steinbeck’s fiction; Ernest Hemingway’s short stories; Thomas Wolfe’s The Lost Boy; and Marjan Kamali's Together Tea.

Some of Matthew’s recent directing credits include The Forgotten Empress (for which he also wrote the script)a dance drama production featuring Kathak dance and music about the life of Mughal Empress Nur Jahan: at the Bing Theatre in Los Angeles (LACMA), Mexican Heritage Center in San José, and in theatres in Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan.  Also, credits include an adaptation of T.C. Boyle’s short story “Killing Babies” for Word for Word Performing Arts Company at the Z Space in San Francisco; Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West for Wordshed Productions in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore for San José State University; and David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross for the San Jose Stage Company.

He has also served as the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled “The California Immigration Experience through Literature and Theatre,” featuring presentations by Maxine Hong Kingston, Luis Valdez, Khaled Hosseini, Ping Chong, and Andrew Lam, among other scholars and artists working on theatre and migration. 

For more about Dr. Spangler's work, visit his website at: