Henry Schvey

Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature

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Schvey has lectured and published extensively in the areas of modern European, British and American drama. Among his most significant writings are an interdisciplinary study of the Austrian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwrite, a collection of essays on contemporary American drama, and published essays on such American playwrights as Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, and David Mamet. In addition to his research, he founded the Leiden English Speaking Theatre in the Netherlands and was artistic director of this touring Dutch company from 1975 until coming to Washington University in 1987.

In the media


Tennessee Williams vs. St. Louis

Tennessee Williams vs. St. Louis

Can you ever escape your past? Tennessee Williams spent a lifetime trying. His years in New York, New Orleans and Key West are the stuff of literary legend. But it was St. Louis where Williams lived longest, and St. Louis that shaped him as an artist and a person. So argues Henry I. Schvey in “Blue Song: St. Louis in the Life and Work of Tennessee Williams.”
‘The Great Work begins’

‘The Great Work begins’

The Performing Arts Department will debut its production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” Feb. 22 in Edison Theatre. “At the heart of the play is a question about who gets to be a citizen of this country,” said dramaturg Paige McGinley. “Gay people, people with AIDS, the addicted — these are often seen as society’s most disposable. Kushner puts them at the center of the American story.”
Election day offers antidote to Trump

Election day offers antidote to Trump

We are no longer the home of the brave or the land of the free; we have become a nation that willingly allies itself with despotism, encouraging acts of extreme violence among its citizens.
Shakespeare and Olin? How better to integrate business and the arts

Shakespeare and Olin? How better to integrate business and the arts

Shakespeare and business. Yoking together these two words seems almost surreal. Yet on April 15, Washington University’s Olin Business School — under the aegis of its dean, Mark P. Taylor — did something which would be unimaginable anywhere else in the United States.
‘A story of moral corruption’

‘A story of moral corruption’

“Macbeth” is a story of moral corruption – and a striking metaphor for the current political moment, says Henry Schvey, who will direct the Shakespeare classic Feb. 24 to March 5 in Edison Theatre.
Washington People: Henry Schvey

Washington People: Henry Schvey

Henry Schvey is a steadfast presence in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, having directed more than 25 plays in his nearly 30-year tenure, in addition to teaching and writing. Now, a new memoir is adding to his body of work in the place he calls home.

In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)

Medical history, gender studies and comedy: Sarah Ruhl’s acclaimed In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) has it all. WUSTL’s Performing Arts Department will present an all-new staging of Ruhl’s Pulitzer and Tony-nominated play April 19-28 in Edison Theatre.

Provocative playwright Sarah Ruhl April 3

Playwright Sarah Ruhl, author of the Tony- and Pulitzer-nominated In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), will discuss her work for the Performing Arts Department April 3. The PAD will produce Ruhl’s provocative, critically acclaimed comedy as its spring Mainstage production April 19-28.

Is Obama employing ‘rope-a-dope’ debate strategy? He just may be, WUSTL expert says​

Two debates, three weeks. There’s not a whole of time or opportunity for the presidential candidates to reach undecided voters, adding weight to tomorrow’s debate. And as we’ve seen in the last two debates, it’s not so much what is being said as it is how the message is being delivered. That’s why President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have a crucial meeting tomorrow night and experts at Washington University in St. Louis are ready to comment.

Tennessee Williams centennial celebration kicks off with Assembly Series lecture by Henry I. Schvey

In this centennial year of Williams’ birth, and the 75th anniversary of his matriculation at WUSTL, Tennessee Williams’ literary legacy will be the subject of an Assembly Series lecture by Henry I. Schvey, PhD, professor of drama and comparative literature in Arts & Sciences. Schvey’s presentation, “Tennessee Williams at 100: From Washington University to the Wider World” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 in Steinberg Hall Auditorium.

Acclaimed Metamorphoses comes to PAD stage April 23-May 2

“The myth is a public dream.” So argues playwright Mary Zimmerman in Metamorphoses, her hypnotic, Tony Award-winning adaptation of myths by the Roman poet Ovid. Beginning Friday, April 23 and for two consecutive weekends, the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences will present Metamorphoses, perhaps the most acclaimed theatrical work of the last decade, as its spring Mainstage production. 

Zimmerman brings ancient classics to life

As part of her visit to Washington University to attend the opening of her play, Metamorphoses, playwright Mary Zimmerman will give an Assembly Series talk on “Bodies I Have in Mind: Adapting Ancient Texts for the Stage,” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 21, in Graham Chapel.

Hamlet as teenager

David Kilper/WUSTL Photo ServicesSathya Sridharan as HamletFor many actors Hamlet is the Mt. Everest of roles: a four-hour, 3,000-line trek to be approached only at the height of one’s professional powers. As a result many productions feature leads — from Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud to Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh — who are well into middle age. Which is a fundamental misreading of the text, argues Henry I. Schvey, Ph.D., professor of drama in the Performing Arts Department (PAD), who will direct a new production Feb. 13 to 22.

Marjorie Garber explores Shakespeare’s impact on modern culture

Courtesy photoMarjorie GarberGleaned from her popular lectures covering three decades, Garber’s 2004 book, Shakespeare After All, offers fresh meditations on the Bard’s plays in an erudite and entertaining fashion. She is a professor of English and director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in Edison Theatre.
Previously unknown Tennessee Williams poem found in the budding playwright’s 1937 Greek exam

Previously unknown Tennessee Williams poem found in the budding playwright’s 1937 Greek exam

Tennessee Williams’ ‘blue’ bookA piece of literary history has returned to Washington University in St. Louis, thanks to a fortuitous find in a New Orleans bookstore. In 2004, Henry I. Schvey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the university’s Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, co-directed the world premiere of “Me, Vashya,” a one-act play written in 1937 by then-student Tennessee Williams. Only weeks later, Schvey happened upon another important Williams-related artifact from 1937: a small blue Washington University test booklet containing what appears to be Williams’ Greek final, which he had worried about passing, as well as a previously unknown poem. It is assumed Williams wrote the 17-line poem, which he appropriately titled “Blue Song,” in the back of the booklet while taking his exam.

Staging The Awakening

Joe Angeles/WUSTL Photo Services”The Awakening”The Awakening (1899) by St. Louis author Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was perhaps the most controversial novel of its day. In October, Washington University’s Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences will mark the centennial of Chopin’s death with an original stage adaptation of The Awakening by Henry I. Schvey, Ph.D., chair and professor in the PAD. Performances begin Oct. 14-17 in Edison Theater, and continue Oct. 28 and 29 at the Missouri Historical Society.

Hand in Hand to Hell

ArmstrongShakespearean actor Gareth Armstrong, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, will present Hand in Hand to Hell: Richard III and Macbeth—An Actor’s Perspective, the fifth annual Helen Clanton Morrin Lecture, for Washington University’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences April 28.

20 years after his death, a Tennessee Williams work is staged for the first time

Photo courtesy of Washington University ArchivesA Tennessee Williams play will be staged for the first time.Twenty years after his death, one of Tennessee Williams’ plays is seeing the light of a stage for the first time. “Me Vashya,” an early play by Williams, will receive its world premiere at Washington University in St. Louis in February. Written in 1937 while Williams was a student here and known as Tom, his birth name, the play has remained in Washington University archives for more than 60 years. It has never been published or performed — until now.


Blue Song

Blue Song

St. Louis in the Life and Work of Tennessee Williams

In 2011, the centennial of Tennessee Williams’s birth, events were held around the world honoring America’s greatest playwright. There were festivals, conferences, and exhibitions held in places closely associated with Williams’s life and career—New Orleans held major celebrations, as did New York, Key West, and Provincetown. But absolutely nothing was done to celebrate Williams’s life […]