Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall LAMDA Dip., LLAM, BA Hons (Open University), MA, PhD

Dr Abigail Rokison-Woodall

Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre
Deputy Director of Institute: Education

Contact details

The Shakespeare Institute
Mason Croft
Church Street
CV37 6HP

I joined the Shakespeare Institute in 2013, having been lecturing at Cambridge University for 7 years. I began my career as a professional actor, training at LAMDA and working quite extensively in theatre. Since deciding to move into academia my main research interests have been in the field of Shakespeare in performance, in particular verse speaking, adaptation and theatre history.  I have written four monographs - Shakespearean Verse Speaking (CUP) (winner of the Shakespeare's Globe first book award 2012), Shakespeare for Young People (Bloomsbury Arden), Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner (Bloomsbury Arden) and As You Like It: Language and Writing (2021) as well as co-authoring Shakespeare and Lecoq: A Practical Guide with Ed Woodall (2024). I am one of the General Editions of the Arden Shakespeare Performance Editions, for which series I have edited A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet and co-edited King Lear (2022) and Richard III (forthcoming 2025) with Simon Russell-Beale.  

Since 2018 I have headed up the ‘Signing Shakespeare’ project, which began as a collaboration with the RSC and has produced resources for Teaching Shakespeare to Deaf children that have been placed into all schools for the Deaf and major Hearing Impaired units in the country.

I am now working on a further project with the RSC looking at creating Deaf-accessible rehearsal room texts.


  • Diploma in Acting from LAMDA (3 year course) - 1996
  • LAMDA Teacher’s Diploma (LLAM) - 1998
  • BA Hons in Humanities with Literature (Open University) - 2001
  • MA in Shakespeare Text and Playhouse (King’s College, London/ Shakespeare’s Globe) - 2002
  • PhD on ‘Shakespearean Verse Speaking’  (Cambridge University) - 2006


I began my career as a professional actor, my acting work including numerous roles in theatre, and, amongst other television roles, Primrose Larkin in TV’s The Darling Buds of May. Following a degree with the Open University, undertaken whilst acting, I went on to take an MA in ‘Shakespeare: Text and Playhouse’ at the Globe Theatre/ King’s College London. I completed my PhD in ‘Shakespearean Verse Speaking’ in the English faculty at Cambridge University in 2006 after which I became a lecturer in Drama and English in the Education Faculty in Cambridge and Director of Studies in English and Drama at Homerton College, Cambridge. I joined the Shakespeare Institute in January 2013.

I was on the board of the British Shakespeare Association from 2002-2010 and Chair from 2008-10. My first monograph, Shakespearean Verse Speaking was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2010, and in July 2012 won the Shakespeare’s Globe First Book Award, as a result of which I was invited to give public lectures at Shakespeare’s Globe, Cheltenham Literary Festival and the Shakespeare Institute.  Following these lectures Shakespeare's Globe and The Shakespeare Institute collaborated on a series of Verse Speaking Symposia - 'The End of Shakespeare's Verse?' in which Giles Block I presented our ideas about verse speaking in venues in Staunton Virginia, New York, Stratford Ontario, Stratford upon Avon and at Shakespeare's Globe in London. 

I completed a second monograph – Shakespeare for Young People: Productions, Versions and Adaptations for Bloomsbury Arden in 2013, a third – Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner for Bloomsbury Arden in 2017 and As You Like It: Language and Writing for Bloomsbury Arden in 2021.  I have recently co-written Shakespeare and Lecoq: A Practical Guide with Ed Woodall for Arden Bloomsbury (due 2024).

In 2017, I was appointed one of the general editors of the new Arden Shakespeare Performance Editions with Michael Dobson and Simon Russell Beale.  I have edited A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet and co-edited King Lear and Richard III with Simon Russell Beale for the series.

I have contributed chapters to King's College Cambridge 1415-2015 (Harvey Miller), Shakespeare Beyond English (CUP), Shakespeare in Stages (CUP), The Children’s Literature Handbook (Routledge), The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry (OUP) and The Great Shakespeareans: Gielgud, Olivier, Ashcroft, Dench (Bloomsbury Arden) and the supplementary material on Much Ado About Nothing for the Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare.

I have written a number of journal articles including the only interview given by David Tennant on his performance as Hamlet.  In 2013 I edited a special edition of Shakespeare journal for Routledge on ‘Shakespeare and Authenticity’.

For the past few years I have been working with the RSC on ‘Signing Shakespeare’, a project which has produced a series of resources and films for teaching Shakespeare’s Macbeth to deaf children – now available on the RSC Learning pages.  I will be co-directing a total communication production (BSL, SSE, spoken word) of the first act of The Tempest with students from Braidwood School for the Deaf at Birmingham Rep in July.  

I have recently directed Edward II and Massacre at Paris for ‘The Marlowe Sessions’ – an immersive audio project (L6L21 productions).

I recently filmed a short documentary – ‘Stratford’s Forgotten Theatre’ about the Stratford Roundhouse and am now working on a documentary about Buzz Goodbody.


My teaching is largely focussed in the areas of Shakespeare in performance and Shakespeare for young people.  I convene the MA route in Shakespeare, and the MA in Shakespeare and Creativity.

I convene the modules - ‘Shakespeare and Theatre Practice’, ‘Shakespeare in Society’ and ‘The Shakespeare Ensemble’ and co-convene ‘Teaching Shakespeare’.

I believe that students can benefit greatly from practical exploration of Shakespeare’s work in areas of both original practices and contemporary performance, particularly in terms of appreciating the impact of elements such as space, casting, textual choices, voice, movement, dialect and design. 

Postgraduate supervision

I currently supervise PhDs in a range of areas connected to the history of Shakespeare in performance, contemporary theatre practice, and Shakespeare and mental health. I am interested in supervising PhDs in areas of Shakespeare in performance, Shakespeare’s language, Shakespeare and adaptation, Shakespeare for young people and applied Shakespeare.

Find out more - our PhD Shakespeare Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


I am one of the general editors of the Arden Shakespeare Performance Editions, for which series I have edited A Midsummer Night’s Dream,  Hamlet, King Lear and Richard III (with Simon Russell Beale). I am also a general editor of the Arden Shakespeare Performance Companions for which I have co-written Shakespeare and Lecoq. I am currently working on ‘Signing Shakespeare’, a project on Teaching Shakespeare to D/deaf Children and a project with the RSC on creating Deaf-accessible rehearsal editions of Shakespeare.  I am writing Insights on Shakespeare’s Dramatic Verse for Arden Bloomsbury.

Other activities

  • I am Deputy Director (Education) for the Shakespeare Institute.
  • I am also Postgraduate Taught Lead for the College of Arts and Law.


Recent publications


Rokison-Woodall, A (ed.) 2017, A Midsummer Night's Dream: Arden Performance Editions. Arden Performance Editions, 1st edn, Bloomsbury Academic. <https://bloomsbury.com/uk/a-midsummer-nights-dream-arden-performance-editions-9781474245197/>

Rokison-Woodall, A (ed.) 2017, Hamlet: Arden Performance Edition. Arden Performance Editions, 1st edn, Bloomsbury Academic. <https://bloomsbury.com/uk/hamlet-arden-performance-editions-9781474253888/>

Rokison-Woodall, A 2016, Shakespeare in the Theatre: Nicholas Hytner. Arden Shakespeare, Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Rokison, A 2013, Shakespeare for Young People. Bloomsbury Academic.

Rokison, A 2010, Shakespearean Verse Speaking. CUP.


Rokison-Woodall, A 2016, 'Interviews with theatre practitioners about texts for performance', Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 47-68. https://doi.org/10.1353/shb.2016.0008

Rokison, A 2010, ''"Our scene is alter'd": Versions and adaptations of Hamlet for young people'', Literature Compass.

Rokison, A 2009, ''Interview: David Tennant on Hamlet'', Shakespeare, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 291.

Rokison, A 2009, ''Romeo and Juliet for the young viewer'', New Review of Children's Literature & Librarianship, vol. 15, no. 1.

Rokison, A 2009, ''Shakespeare's History Cycle in Performance: Actor and Audience Perspectives'', Shakespeare, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 105-113.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Rokison, A 2014, Drama in King's College Chapel. in N Zeeman & JM Massing (eds), King's College Chapel, Cambridge 1515-2015 : art, music and religion in Cambridge. Harvey Miller Publishers.

Rokison, A 2013, Henry V. in C Carson (ed.), Shakespeare Beyond English. Cambridge University Press.

Rokison, A 2013, Shakespeare's Dramatic Verse Line. in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare's Poetry. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 285-305.


Rokison, A 2010, Authenticity in the 21st Century: propeller and Shakespeare's Globe. in C Carson & C Dymokowski (eds), Shakespeare in Stages. Cambridge University Press.

View all publications in research portal


  • Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare in Performance
  • Theatre history
  • Dramatic literature

Media experience

  • Academic advisor and contributor to Shakespeare Uncovered Series 1 and 2 (BBC/ Sky/ PBS)
  • Contributor to Art That Made Us (BBC)
  • Featured in ‘Signing Shakespeare’ on BBC Morning Live
  • Presenter of short documentary ‘Stratford’s Forgotten Theatre’
  • Contributor on Times Radio (The Anniversary of the first recorded performance of Othello)