Robert A. Schanke is Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Central College, Iowa, where he served for twenty-seven years. A native Iowan, he received his BA from Midland College in Nebraska and both his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. His articles on theater history appear in Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, Southern Theatre, and Central States Speech Journal. He has contributed to numerous reference books and anthologies, including Women in American Theatre, Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, and Shakespeare Around the Globe.

He is author of Ibsen in America: A Century of Change (Scarecrow, 1988) and Eva Le Gallienne: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood, 1989). His Shattered Applause: The Lives of Eva Le Gallienne (Southern Illinois, 1992) was a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award and the Barnard Hewitt Award for theater research. He coedited with Kim Marra Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History (Michigan, 1998) and Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History (Michigan, 2002). Their final collaboration, The Gay and Lesbian Theatrical Legacy, appeared in 2005.

He edited and wrote the introduction for a collection of essays titled Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy (Southern Illinois, 2007). Prior to that, his book That Furious Lesbian: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta (Southern Illinois, 2003), won the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year award in the best gay and lesbian nonfiction category. He also published Women in Turmoil: Six Plays by Mercedes de Acosta (Southern Illinois, 2003). Most recently, he wrote Queer Theatre and the Legacy of Cal Yeomans (Palgrave, 2011).

He edited the international journal Theatre History Studies from 1993 to 2005. In 2001 he founded the Theatre in the Americas series with Southern Illinois University Press and edited the series until 2014. He served as a Vice-President of Membership and Marketing for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (2000-2002), as VP for Awards (2007-2011), and as VP Research and Publications (2012-2014). He served as President of the LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgendered) Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.  

Besides his writing, he has directed theatre productions in England , Wales , and Mexico . Several universities have invited him to present guest lectures on their campuses. He is a Fellow of the Mid-America Theatre Conference and was honored with Alumni Achievement Awards by both Midland College and the University of Nebraska . In 2003 he was elected into the National Theatre Conference, and in 2004 he was elected into membership of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and also received the “Excellence in Editing” Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. He received the 2013 Career Achievement Award for Educational Theatre from the 1500 member organization, Association for Theatre in Higher Education. This is the highest award given by this organization, and in 2014 he received the Betty Jean Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching from the American Theatre and Drama Society. He is currently the Dean for the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.

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