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Dr Katherine Hennessey

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Global Shakespeare Research Fellow

Tel: +44 (0)24 7652 2691
Email: k dot a dot hennessey at warwick dot ac dot uk
Email: k dot hennessey at qmul dot ac dot uk

Westwood Avon Building WA1.16
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Global Shakespeare asks, 'What can we learn from productions of Shakespeare in Afghanistan, in Taiwan, in Brazil--or in Russian, in Maori, in Palestinian Arabic?' This open-minded, intellectually curious approach to performances of Shakespeare across vastly diverse cultures, geographies, and languages is the future of Shakespeare studies."

Dr Katherine Hennessey


Katherine joined Global Shakespeare after five years in Sana'a, Yemen, where she lived in a traditionally constructed mud brick tower house, translated Yemeni literature, and conducted research on contemporary Yemeni theatre. Prior to this she served as an assistant professor at Bethlehem University on the Palestinian West Bank, teaching Irish literature and Shakespeare, and as a lecturer in Italian at the Pontifical Institute in Jerusalem.


Her most recent research investigates the cultural impact of the Arabian Gulf's new performing arts complexes, and the use of theatre as a forum for sociopolitical critique within highly censored societies. Katherine's current projects include a monograph entitled Staging a Protest: 20th and 21st Century Theatre in Yemen, a documentary film on the 2014 Theatre Festival in Sana'a, and a study of Shakespeare on the Irish stage.

Her book Shakespeare on the Arabian Peninsula is forthcoming this year from Palgrave's Global Shakespeares series (Pivot).

Katherine co-convened, with Clair Wills and Fintan O'Toole, the Ireland and Shakespeare symposium at Princeton University, 4-6 March 2016.

She is also chair of the Arab Shakespeare panel ('Re-Casting Shakespeare') at the World Shakespeare Congress, 31 July-6 Aug 2016, and co-editor, with Margaret Litvin, of the 'Arab Shakespeares' special issue of Critical Survey (Winter 2016).

From the introduction to Arabia Incognita (2016):

Chapter Eight returns the book’s focus strongly to Yemen, where it picks up the story of the post–Arab Spring deterioration by charting the political “implosions” in the country in the course of 2014. Despite this generally pessimistic narrative, however, the chapter opens with a very lively description by Katherine Hennessey of a 13-play theater festival held in Sana‘a, March through May 2014. Hennessey notes in her account that no fewer than four of the 13 plays presented featured suicide bombings as a subject. Her piece nevertheless reminds us that in Yemen as in other areas plagued by terrible civil conflict, many aspects of daily—even cultural—life continue, a powerful testimony to the strength of the human spirit. 

--Sheila Carapico, editor

Selected publications

“Staging the Revolution: The Drama of the Arab Spring in Yemen.” Arabian Humanities 4, April 2015.

“'Now I Shall Believe That There Are Unicorns': The Improbable History of Shakespeare in Yemen.” Arab Stages, inaugural issue, December 2014.

“Explosions and Ill Omens: On the Stage at World Theatre Day in Yemen.” Middle East Report 273, December 2014.

“Drama in Yemen: Behind the Scenes at World Theater Day.” Middle East Report 271, July 2014.

Instants of Enchantment: Tales from the Literary Heritage of Yemen (translator and introduction). Dar al-Kutub, Sana'a 2014, Kindle edition 2015.

“Yemeni Society in the Spotlight: Theatre and Film in Yemen Before, During, and After the Arab Spring.” In Why Yemen Matters: A Society in Transition, ed. Helen Lackner. London: Saqi. February 2014.

“Shylock in the Hadramawt? Adaptations of Shakespeare on the Yemeni Stage.” ArabLit 3:5. June 2013.

“Yemeni Literature,” by Steven C. Caton, Katherine Hennessey, and Mohammed Sharafuddin. Yemen: Geography and World Cultures Series, ed. Steven C. Caton. ABC-CLIO, April 2013.

“Staging a Protest: Socio-Political Criticism in Contemporary Yemeni Theater.” Doomed by Hope: Essays on Arab Theater, ed. Eyad Houssami. Pluto, in English and Arabic translation. November 2012.

“The Inaugural Season of the Royal Opera House, Muscat, Oman,” Portal 9, Vol 1. In English and Arabic translation. Autumn 2012.


“Can We Talk to Terrorists? Extremism and the Potential for Dialogue, as Portrayed in Yemeni Film and Theatre.” For Building The New Yemen: Power, Politics, and Society in the 21st Century, ed. Marie-Christine Heinz. I.B. Tauris, 2016.

“All the World's a Stage Designed by Zaha Hadid: How the Gulf’s New Mega-theatres Attempt to Promote 'Global' Identities.” For Representing the Nation, ed. Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Mariam al-Mulla, and Victoria Hightower. Routledge, 2016.

"Shakespeare and the Arab World." For A Companion to Global Shakespeares, ed. Alexa Huang. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.

"Yemen." For The World of Theatre: An Account of the Theatre Seasons 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. International Theatre Institute/Routledge. 2016.

"Global Shakespeare." For A Companion to World Literature, ed. Wen-chin Ouyang. Wiley Blackwell, 2017.


Katherine has a wide range of teaching experience, having taught a total of 31 different modules to date, in multiple languages and on subjects from Renaissance Italian literature to contemporary Irish drama, in the US, Palestine, and Yemen.

She is the recipient of two teaching awards from the University of Notre Dame, but the teaching accomplishment of which she is proudest is that of helping Sana'a University's Italian majors to complete their studies after their university department and their city descended into chaos in the wake of the Arab Spring.

She currently teaches the Undergraduate Global Shakespeare module at Queen Mary University of London.


2008. PhD, English with Irish Studies concentration.
2007. MA, 20th Century British and Irish Literature.
2004. MA, Italian Language and Literature.
University of Notre Dame, USA.

Katherine is the recipient of numerous awards, including Fulbrights in France and Italy, a Beinecke fellowship, and a Mellon Foundation Grant at the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles.

Katherine with a group of actors, actresses, and directors from Yemen

Katherine with a group of Yemeni actors, actresses, and directors in Sana'a

Princeton symposium

Ireland and Shakespeare at Princeton

Katherine's work has appeared in...

Arabia Incognita


Why Yemen Matters book cover

Instants cover

Yemen book cover

Portal 9 Cover

MER 271 Cover

Doomed by Hope book cover