Emily Zempel Roberts

Emily Zempel Roberts

Shakespeare Institute
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title

“Cues for Passion”: Analyzing and Embodying Emotion through Acting Techniques in Shakespearean Performance 

Supervisor: Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall and Dr Erin Sullivan
PhD Shakespeare Studies


  • BA/BMus Theatre and Vocal Jazz (Lawrence University)
  • MFA Acting (Brooklyn College)
  • MA Shakespeare and Theatre (Shakespeare Institute)
  • Member of Actor’s Equity Association (US)


  • Adjunct Professor of Performance, Manhattanville College
  • Adjunct Faculty, American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA)


My research examines the performance of emotion by actors in Shakespeare today, the way in which emotion was written and performed in Shakespeare’s time, and the possibilities for the creation of useful emotional approaches when examining the disparities and commonalities between the two. Through the lens of actor technique, I pull apart the various tools actors are given in training to distill modern approaches to performing and producing emotion on stage. I will then examine how actors in performance use these tools, or not, and what frustrations or problems they may have when applying learned techniques to Shakespeare in the moment of performance. I then look to the Early Modern period, exploring the ways in which Shakespeare wrote character and emotion, and how his style, as well as the evidence of performance techniques of the time, differs from the way we perform his plays today. Finally, I will test the way in which using Early Modern knowledge can equip actors today with greater emotional agency and confidence in performance through the practical creation of emotion-centered exercises that can be applied to Shakespeare in concert with traditional techniques.

Other activities

“To Weep or Not to Weep: The Performance of Tears in Hamlet”, British Graduate Shakespeare Conference (BritGrad), Stratford-Upon-Avon, 2019

“Sending Rasa Over the Internet: Creating an Emotional Score for Shakespeare with Rasaboxes for Facebook Live”, British Graduate Shakespeare Conference (BritGrad), Stratford-Upon-Avon, 2018

“Innovative Strategies to Launch Graduate Actors into the Business of Theatre”, Panelist, Association for Theater in Higher Education Conference, New York, 2009