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Department of Theatre & Dance
UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive MC0344
La Jolla, CA 92093-0344
  Adele Edling Shank
Faculty In Memoriam


Adele Edling Shank (April 9, 1940 – November 27, 2014) was a professor at UC San Diego from 1981 to 2014, up until her passing.

She wrote numerous plays which have been produced throughout the United States and in England. Her full-length works include six plays in the California series–Sunrise, Winterplay, Stuck: A Freeway Comedy, Sand Castles, The Grass House, and Tumbleweed. They are a series of independent but interconnected plays set in various California locations. Other full-length plays include War Horses, Rocks in Her Pocket, With Allison's Eyes, The Wives of the Magi (an ecumenical play for December), and Sex Slaves. These plays primarily premiered at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Her work has also been developed and/or produced by the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Second Stage (NY), Los Angeles Public Theatre, Paines Plough (London), Show of Strength (Bristol, England), LA Actors Theatre, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Women’s Project (NY), Playbrokers (SF), Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and several productions in the Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Shank’s short play Dry Smoke was used as the text for a chamber opera with music by Victor Kioulaphides which was produced by the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, New York. Her radio adaptation of Stuck was produced by Slovak Radio. She did the text for a dance theatre piece, Jardin Blanc, with English choreographer Yolande Snaith and the Yolande Snaith Dance Company which premiered in Brighton, England in 2004 before touring England and performing at The Place in London as part of Dance Umbrella. An American version followed. Her adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse with composer Paul Dresher and director Les Waters was produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2007.

Shank was the recipient of numerous awards including an NEA Playwriting Fellowship, Rockefeller Playwrights-in-Residence Grant, and a Dramatists Guild/CBS Award. At UC San Diego she served as department chair and as Head of Playwriting for several years. She retired from full-time teaching but continued to be active in the department and in the playwriting area. She was also an editor of TheatreForum, an international theatre journal published at UC San Diego.


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