Dr. Hank Willenbrink

Associate Professor, Theatre Program


B.A., University of Tulsa
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara



Hi! I'm an Associate Professor in the Department of English & Theatre. I teach in three areas offered by the department--Creative Writing, English, and Theatre--and the courses that I offer focus on contemporary literature, dramatic literature, playwriting and other types of performance writing. I'm a big proponent of student research and have mentored students helping them to create their own plays, television scripts, short films, and scholarly theses. I've also worked with students research assistants. In my classes, I advocate for a global view of literature and hope to inspire my students to see the arts and the humanities as a vibrant, vital pursuits that give dimension to our lives, inspire, and mold us. My goal is to empower my students and give them the tools to best tell their own story.

I identify as a scholar/artist, which means that I produce both scholarly work (manuscripts and essays) as well as creative products (plays and other performance scripts). This term also means that I believe that both areas inform one another.

My own scholarly research focuses, mainly, in two areas: religious performance and playwriting. I have a book forthcoming that analyzes religious performances in support of Donald Trump entitled Performing for the Don: Theatres of Faith in the Age of Trump (Routledge). I've also published on religious performance in Ecumenica and Theatre Journal.  In addition to writing plays, I've begun to take a more scholarly interest in the discipline of playwriting and have a chapter in Decentered Playwriting (Routledge) that explores possible areas of intersection between playwriting and nature writing. I've also been developing writing courses which put this interest into action.

As a playwright, my play The Boat in the Tiger Suit premiered at The Brick (NYC) and is published by Original Works Publishing. I've also had work read and performed at Sala Beckett (Barcelona), the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF in Washington D.C.), quiet (Seattle), and other venues. My plays have been developed at WordBRIDGE (Clemson, SC) and World Interplay International Festival of Young Playwrights (Australia). 18 won the John Cauble Award for Best Sort Play from KCACTF. My monologues have been featured in Monologues for Men by Men, More Monologues for Men by Men, and Best Men's Stage Monologues of 2014.

Some of my other scholarly work has focused on contemporary Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese writers; contemporary plays, playwrights, and theatre companies; and independent music.

I've also developed and led three different community-engaged projects featuring students. These projects, Proprioception (2015), The Porches Project (2019), and 1902 (2023) were all interdisciplinary and student-centered. In each project, student writers who performed research on their community through historical documentation or via community story gatherings. This research was used to create dramatic works, which were developed and performed.

I serve in the leadership of two professional organizations: the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association. I've also worked with Narrative 4 and given writing workshops with Arts in Education Northeastern Pennsylvania and other community organizations. On campus, I've served as Theatre Program Director and First Year Seminar Development Director. I've also served on multiple important committees such as the GE Review Committee, Slattery Center Faculty Executive Committee and Humanities Initiative, the Board of Rank and Tenure: Honors Council: Community-hbased Learning Advisory Board, and Laudato 'Si Education for the Environment Working Group.

My family and I live in Clarks Summit, but whenever we can we love to travel especially to Latin America and Spain.


Dr. Hank Willenbrink currently teaches the following courses: 

ENLT 142X FYS-Latest and Greatest: Prize Winning Fiction Poetry and Theatre

3 cr. (FYS)

Award-winning literary texts and writers of the last ten years enable students to examine success in literary and academic contexts and to practice a successful transition to the University of Scranton.

ENLT/THTR 276 American Drama 1916-1968

3 cr. (CL) (Theory Intensive)(Prerequisites: ENLT 140 or equivalent or THTR 110)

The rise of the United states as a world power is reflected in the American theatre of this period. the reading list includes both plays & musicals; the works themselves explore issues of cultural identity, gender roles, & racial conflicts as they pertain to our understanding of the American dream.

ENLT/THTR 277 American Drama 1968-2011

3 cr. (CL,D) (Theory Intensive)(Prerequisite: ENLT 140 or equivalent or THTR 110)

this course focuses on exploring and encountering literature that has shaped American theatre between the Vietnam era & 9/11 attacks. Some recurring issues include the Cold War; AIDS; patriotism & the counter-culture; ethnic, sexual, & gender identities; & the demise of the American dream.

ENLT/THTR 278 Ecotheatre

3 CR. (CL)(Prerequisites: ENLT 120-179)

This course introduces the concept of theatre by challenging students to look at historical works through an ecocritical lens as well as exploring how contemporary plays and performances explore issues of ecology, the environment, and climate change.

ENLT 490-491 Senior Seminar

3 cr. (W)

The topics of these writing-intensive seminars vary from semester to semester. Based largely on student writing, presentations, and discussion, this capstone course is required in the major and culminates in the student's development of a seminar paper. May be repeated for credit. Enrollment is limited to 15 students per section.

THTR 110 Intro. to Theatre

3 cr. (CL)

An introduction to the theories and practices of the theatre arts. Dramatic structure, dramatic literature, critical writing, acting, directing, design, practical stagecraft, and some theatre history will all be touched on in an effort to introduce students to the fullness and variety of the art of theatre.

THTR 211 Theatre History I

3 cr. (CL)

A chronological study of Western theatre from ancient Greek drama to 17th-century British drama. A selection of plays from representative playwrights will be read and discussed with an emphasis on the social, cultural, and theatrical contexts within which these playwrights lived and worked.

THTR 212 Theatre HIstory II

3 cr. (CL, Theory Intensive)

A chronological study of Western theatre from the middle 17th century to the present. A selection of plays from representative playwrights will be read and discussed, with an emphasis on the social, cultural and theatrical contexts within which these playwrights lived and worked.

THTR 225 Solo Performance

3 cr.

All you need for a solo performance is an audience and a performer; however, a solo performance represents some of the most challenging, sophisticated, and courageous performances happening today. Students will actively create their own solo performances by analyzing the work of establishing solo artists and exploring their own creative acts. (Students cannot earn credit for THTR 225 and WRTG 225).

THTR/WRTG 215 Playwriting I

3 cr.

This course is designed to teach students the basic elements and techniques involved in writing for theatrical performance. Students will write either a one-act-play or one act of a two-or-three-act-play. This course may be counted toward the Theatre Major, Minor, or Track. Photocopying fee. (Credit cannot be earned for WRTG 215 and THTR 215)

WRTG 315 Playwriting II

3 cr. (Prerequisite: WRTG 215)

This advanced workshop builds on the skills acquired in Playwriting I, an includes intensive reading and writing assignments that encourage students to explore theatrical styles beyond realism. This course may be counted toward the Theatre major, minor, or track. Photocopying fee. (Credit cannot be earned for THTR 315 and WRTG 315.)

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