Adam Hembree


English and Theatre Studies

Image of Adam Hembree
Image of Adam Hembree

Adam is an academic and an actor, focusing his research on the language of performance in early modern England. Critical interests include philology, the history of emotions, theatre history, and tertiary pedagogy. His theatre company, Soothplayers, performs in Melbourne and throughout Australia.



Reading Strange Matters: The Magic Word in Early Modern English Drama

Reading Strange Matters straddles the hazy line between 'stage magic' and real magic in early modern English theatre. Focusing first on the surprising semantic overlap between the words used to describe drama and the dark arts, I move on to explore what kind of power an actor's words and body were thought to have. After tracing a strange weave of words across theatre, magic, medicine, and alchemy, I conclude that theatre reflects a prevalent, violent epistemology in Renaissance England. Knowledge, in that epistemology, is a secret prey to be hunted, a subtle spirit to be subdued.

Research interests

  • Early Modern Theatre
  • Philology
  • Queer theory
  • Theatre History
  • Affect and emotion
  • Gender performance
  • Acting and Improvisation