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Department ofTheatre and Dance

Michael A. Zampelli, S.J.

Michael Zampelli, S.J.
Michael A. Zampelli

Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. University Professor

Father Michael Zampelli, S.J. is the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. University Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance. 

An Associate Professor, Michael has been on the faculty at Santa Clara since 1998 teaching courses in performance studies, gender/sexuality in performance, theatre history and literature.  His major research interests include Jesuit performance history; religious criticism of the theatre; the spiritual functions of theatre, especially in the work of the 10thcentury Saxon canoness, Hrotsvit of Gandersheim; and the early modern Italian professional theatre, particularly the work of actor/dramatist Giovan Battista Andreini (1576-1654).  His scholarly work has appeared in journals such as Theatre SurveyText and Presentation, and Religion and Theatre.  He has also contributed essays on pre- and early modern performance to several book volumes, including From Rome to Eternity: Catholicism and the Arts in Italy, 1550-1650 (Brill); The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773 (University of Toronto Press), Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: Contexts, Identities, Affinities, and Performances (University of Toronto Press), Catholic Theatre and Drama: Critical Essays (McFarland and Company), A Companion to Hrotsvit of Gandersheim (fl 960) (Brill), and Music as Cultural Mission (St. Joseph’s University Press). Most recently he has published several entries in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Jesuits, edited by Thomas Worcester, SJ (Cambridge University Press).

In conjunction with his teaching and research, Father Zampelli also directs; he is particularly interested in the process of retrieving historical performances for contemporary audiences.  He has served as stage director (in national and international venues) for four Jesuit-inspired performance pieces: The Judgment of Solomon and The Death of Saul and Jonathan by Marc-Antoine Charpentier; Patientis Christi Memoria by Johannes Bernhard Staudt, and San Ignacio de Loyola by Domenico Zipoli, Martin Schmid, and an anonymous composer.  For SCU’s Main Stage, Michael has co-directed, with Kristin Kusanovich and Greg Schultz, The Saint Plays by Erik Ehn, Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman, and The King Stag by Carlo Gozzi.  In 2005 he directed a Fess Parker Studio production of Stop Kiss by Diana Son. 

During the 2016-2017 academic year, Michael held the St. Ignatius Loyola Chair in the Theatre Program at Fordham University in New York City.  While at Fordham, in addition to presenting papers at national and international conferences, he delivered two lectures on his most current research investigating the retrieval of the Jesuit performing arts tradition in 19th and 20th century US Jesuit educational institutions.  Michael has also lectured at the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, California) on the theatrical contexts for Guido Cagnacci’s “Martha Rebuking Mary for her Vanity,” and in various venues on early modern Jesuit theatre and dance (Northwestern University, University of San Francisco, Bellarmine College Preparatory School).  He has delivered “Depth of Thought and Depth of Imagination: Challenging Superficiality” at Marquette University, Loyola University Chicago, the University of San Francisco and Loyola Marymount University.

Father Zampelli is a member of the American Society for Theatre Research, the Comparative Drama Conference, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Renaissance Society of America.

His pastoral work includes very fulfilling ministries to LGBTQ Catholics and to the incarcerated in the Diocese of San Jose.


AB English 1982 Georgetown University
MA Humanities 1986 Fordham University
MDiv Theoloy 1992 Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
STM Theology 1993 Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
PhD Drama 1998 Tufts University