Irwin Appel


Office Location

Theater Dance West, Room 1514


Acting, Directing, Composer/Sound Designer, Shakespeare


Diploma (MFA equivalent), Juilliard School; A.B. English and Theater, Princeton University


Irwin Appel is Professor of Theater and has served as both Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance and Director of the BFA Actor Training Program, the only BFA in Acting in the UC system. As a professional director, Equity actor, and composer/sound designer, he has worked with the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Orlando Shakes, the New York, Oregon, Utah, New Jersey and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals, Southwest Shakespeare Company, The Acting Company, Theatre For a New Audience, Hartford Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, PCPA, both the National Theatre Conservatory and Colorado New Play Summit at the Denver Center of the Performing Arts, the Bread Load Acting Ensemble, and other prominent regional theaters. In Europe, he most recently acted the role of Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1 for the Prague Shakespeare Company in the Czech Republic, and in Asia, he will be performing the role of Serebryakov in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya with Lit Moon Theatre Company in Yerevan, Armenia in November 2023.  Also, for Prague Shakespeare, he played Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida at the renowned Estates Theatre where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni in 1787.

He is the founder and artistic director of Naked Shakes producing Shakespeare’s plays at UCSB, in the United States and internationally since 2006. For Naked Shakes, he has created two major adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays: first, The Death of Kings, combining eight Shakespeare history plays from Richard II through Richard III into one event that has been performed in California, Arizona, the Czech Republic and most recently as the closing production in the internationally-renowned Verona Shakespeare Fringe Festival in Verona, Italy. Currently, he is a Visiting Professor at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, directing a new edition of The Death of Kings with students from Poland, Ukraine, Spain, China and other parts of Europe and Asia.  During the pandemic, he combined Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, along with parts of George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra into one play entitled Immortal Longings that was live streamed virtually all over the world. He has also led workshops and lectured about Naked Shakes in China, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Switzerland and Czech Republic. Naked Shakes is a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, serving artistic, education, and management leaders of over 125 national and international theaters whose primary focus is producing the works of William Shakespeare.

Professor Appel teaches all levels of BFA acting, directing and Shakespeare at UCSB, as well as a groundbreaking team-taught, interdisciplinary course with English Professor James Kearney called “Experiencing Shakespeare” (INT 35LT) that focuses on Shakespeare’s plays from both the performance as well as the literary and historical points of view. This course is part of UCSB’s exciting Arnhold initiative and intersects with the Naked Shakes courses (THTR 144A and 144B) that welcome students to perform and produce Shakespeare from all different majors, levels of experience and skill.

He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Juilliard School in New York City.


Founder and Artistic Director of Naked Shakes, producing award-winning Shakespearean productions at UCSB and on tour since 2006.  Professional actor (AEA), director and composer/sound designer working nationally and internationally.


All levels of BFA Acting

All levels of Directing

Courses in Shakespeare, including Shakespeare in Performance, Experiencing Shakespeare and Shakespearean Production (Naked Shakes)