Harley Erdman is a theater writer whose work includes original plays, opera librettos, book & lyrics for musicals, translations, and adaptations.
With composer Eric Sawyer, he has created the operas The Scarlet Professor and The Garden of Martyrs, the latter of which was a finalist for the American Prize. His screwball comedy Nobody’s Girl, based on the true story of a pioneering woman theater manager, was commissioned for the Northampton Academy of Music’s grand reopening in 2014. With composer Aaron Jones and co-writer Gina Kaufmann, he is creating the indie-rock musical Donny Johns, which adapts the Don Juan legend to a contemporary college campus. He wrote the libretto for The Captivation of Eunice Williams, developed with Linda McInerney with music by Paula Kimper.
He is the author of six books, including the influential Staging the Jew and an anthology of his translations of plays by 17th-century Spanish women, available for the first time ever in English. He has also translated and adapted plays by the celebrated Spanish Golden Age playwrights Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega, and Tirso de Molina. His most recent translation, about a gender queer rebel from 1613, is Luis Vélez de Guevara's The Mountain Girl from La Vera, published in 2019 by Liverpool University Press. He has also created a stage adaption of the play under the title Wild Thing.
His commissioned work as a translator of contemporary Latin American theater includes plays by Guillermo Calderón, Concepción León, and Arístides Vargas. He is a winner of the Josephine Roberts Award, the Association for Hispanic Classic Theater’s Translation Prize, the American Society for Theatre Research’s Kahn Prize, and a Fulbright Scholarship. He was a co-founder of Austin’s pioneering ensemble theater company, Troupe Texas. He has also taught dramaturgy in El Salvador and Sri Lanka. He is Professor of Theater at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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