Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Emma Poltrack

I have recently successfully completed a doctoral reserach degree in the English and Comparative Literary Studies department under the supervision of Professor Carol Chillington Rutter.


My thesis explored the history and production practices of the Propeller Theatre Company, an all-male ensemble under the direction of Edward Hall. To date, Propeller has worked exclusively on Shakespeare’s plays, staging fourteen productions of eleven plays. The critical attention Propeller has received remains centered on its all-male casting, but my project aims to go beyond this aspect of Propeller’s work. Observing how their casting policy is responsible for creating a genuine ensemble, my project placed Propeller within the context of other companies that claim to be working as ensembles to analyze how Propeller engages practically with Shakespeare’s scripts and to what ends. As a touring company, Propeller has broad popular and commercial appeal and has established itself as one of the most prominent Shakespeare companies in the United Kingdom, including winning Theatre Awards United Kingdom’s award for best touring production in 2011. They have also established an international reputation, visiting such countries as Australia, China and Germany as well as repeated appearances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. They became an Arts Council National portfolio organization in 2011, guaranteeing them funding until 2015. I explored how Propeller's particular interpretation of authenticity in Shakespearean performance reflects on what it means to be a Shakespearean ensemble engaging with contemporary audiences.

Research Areas

My research areas include the question of authenticity in Shakespearean performance, the relationship between performers and spectators, the ensemble in post-war British theatre, and representations of intoxication in early modern drama.


  • "'An enemy in their mouths': Alcohol and Secular Possession in Othello." STET 2 (2012). [journal online]. Available from; Internet.
  • "Murder and Responsibility: A Comparison between Arden of Faversham and Othello." The Shakespeare Institute Review 1 (2012). [journal online]. Available from; Internet.
  • "The Taming of the Shrew, Everyman Theatre / Twelfth Night, Everyman Theatre," Shakespeare Bulletin 31, no. 3 (2013): 539-545.
  • "The Comedy of Errors, Propeller (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry) / A Midsummer Night's Dream, Propeller (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry)," Shakespeare Bulletin 32, no. 3 (2014): 513-519.

Conference Papers

  • May 26, 2011, "'Let us call thee devil': The Transformative Power of Alcohol as a Form of Secular Witchcraft in Othello", The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute.
  • June 6, 2013, "'Shakespeare in the iPlayer Era: Revivals and the Creative Ensemble", The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute.
  • June 6, 2014, "'The royal captain of this ruined band: Hegemonic Masculinty in Propeller's Henry V'", The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute.

Academic CV

MA Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cultural History of Renaissance England

The Shakespeare Institute (2010-2011)

Dissertation: "How apt is a drunkard now to reel to the devil!" : Alcohol as a Tool of Witchcraft on the Early Modern Stage

Supervisor: Dr. Erin Sullivan

BA Dramatic Literature, Theatre History and Cinema

New York University (2004-2008)


At Warwick, I co-organized the Sidelights on Shakespeare interdisciplinary seminar series (2011-2014) and was on the organizing committee for the 2013 English Postgraduate Symposium. Outside of the university, I am an employee of the Royal Shakespeare Company and actively involved in amateur dramatics. I was assistant director for the Shakespeare Institute Players' productions of The Summoning of Everyman (August 2011) and Edward II (November 2012), and stage-managed A Midsummer Night's Dream (March 2013), A Yorkshire Tragedy (May 2013), Much Ado About Nothing (July 2013), and Measure for Measure (July 2014 - RSC Open Stages partner).

emma poltrack

Emma Poltrack

E dot Poltrack at warwick dot ac dot uk