Neil Scharnick

Neil Kristian Scharnick

  • Associate Professor of Theatre
  • Honors Program Director
  • Theatre
Email Address:
Office location:
LH 315

Dr. Neil Scharnick (’99) is an Associate Professor of Theatre and serves as coordinator of Carthage’s acclaimed New Play Initiative, commissioning new work by award-winning playwrights and premiering them at Carthage. He also serves as Honors Director for the college. Joining the Theatre faculty at Carthage in 2003, Prof. Scharnick earned his Ph.D. in Theatre & Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his M.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in both Religion and Communication & Performing Arts from Carthage.

He regularly teaches Play Reading & Analysis and the cycle of theatre history courses, in addition to creating and frequently leading the Ensemble & Experimental Acting course. Prof. Scharnick directs one production each season, with past Carthage productions including Brian Friel’s “Translations,” Jean-Claude van Itallie’s “The Serpent,” Mohan Rakesh’s “One Day in the Season of Rain” (New Play Initiative), Sarah Ruhl’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” Martin Maguire’s “A Clamour of Rooks” (New Play Initiative, premiered at Smock Alley in Dublin, Ireland), Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” Caridad Svich’s “The Breath of Stars” (New Play Initiative, presented at CrisisArt Festival, Arezzo, Italy, 2016), “Memento Mori” (New Play Initiative, in collaboration with West End House School of Arts, Killarney), John Dryden’s “Marriage à la Mode,” and the musicals “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Into the Woods,” “Flora the Red Menace,” and “Nine.”

His plays have been invited to participate in the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, receiving regional and national honors. Notably, his production of “Memento Mori” earned the Kennedy Center’s Citizen Artist Award.

Dr. Scharnick has presented his work at the annual conferences of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the Association for Asian Performance (AAP), and at UW-Madison’s Center for Early Modern Studies. He is also a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) and Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA), and is a Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) Associate. His primary research and production interests include new play dramaturgy, theatre and faith, Restoration theatre, and ensemble and experimental playmaking and performance.

Scharnick has been on staff and directed at Milwaukee’s Acacia Theatre Company; he has also served as a guest lecturer as part of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s ViewPoints series.

His most recent publication is a review of Philip Salim Francis’s book, “When Art Disrupts Religion: Aesthetic Experience and the Evangelical Mind” in PRS: Performance, Religion, and Spirituality.

Prof. Scharnick’s 2014 dissertation, “Toward an Eschatology of Restoration Theatre,” is available through ProQuest or through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Media Mentions:

Snyder: Carthage College professor discovers ‘an odd blessing’ of COVID-19 theater
Carthage Professor Neil Kristian Scharnick finds that even during a pandemic it is still a “blessing” to be working on shows. (Kenosha News, October 13, 2020)

Learning the stories of NFL cheerleaders, shedding light on lawsuits
Professor Scharnick writes an op-ed about the world-premiere production of “The Handbook”, a story by Chicago playwright Laura Schellhardt. (Kenosha News, November 11, 2019)

Carthage College play examines challenges of being NFL cheerleader
Professor Scharnick and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristin Ann Ware were featured on WISN 12 News to discuss “The Handbook”. (WISN 12 News, November 10, 2019)

  • Ph.D. — Theatre & Drama, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.A. — Theatre, Northwestern University
  • B.A. — Religion, Communication & Performing Arts, Carthage College
  • THR 0300 Applied Acting and Directing
  • THR 1110 Introduction to Acting
  • THR 1150 Introduction to Theatre
  • THR 2900 Play Reading & Analysis
  • THR 3210 Ensemble & Experimental Theatre
  • THR 3260 History of Pre-Modern Theatre
  • THR 3270 History of Classical Theatre
  • THR 3280 History of Modern Theatre
  • THR 4010 Senior Seminar in Theatre

Citizen Artist Award, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Plays directed at Carthage:

“Translations” by Brian Friel (2004), “Proof” by David Auburn (2005), “Arms and the Man” by G.B. Shaw (2007), “The Serpent” by Jean-Claude van Itallie (2008), “Thoroughly Modern Millie” by Tesori, Scanlan, and Morris (2009), “One Day in the Season of Rain” by Mohan Rakesh (2010), “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” by Sarah Ruhl (2010), “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani (2011), “A Clamour of Rooks” by Martin Maguire (2013), “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane (2014), “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” by Tom Stoppard (2014), “The Breath of Stars” by Caridad Svich (2016), “Marriage a la Mode” by John Dryden (2016), “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (2018), “Flora the Red Menace” by Thompson, Kander and Ebb (2019), “The Handbook” by Laura Schellhardt (2019), “Puffs” by Matt Cox (2020), “Memento Mori” (2022), “Nine” by Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit (2024), and “Life is a Dream” by Calderón (2025).