Shai did his first degree (BFA) at Tel Aviv University in Theatre Arts with a specialization in directing. He took a second degree (MA) at London University (1990) which he received with distinction, specializing in the work of avant-garde theatre directors Pina Bausch and Tadeusz Kantor. Since 1992 he has taught at the Hebrew University Theatre Studies Department as well as in the English Department; he has also taught in the Theatre Department at Haifa University and at the School for Visual Theatre in Jerusalem. His courses range on topics such as theories of directing and acting, masculinity and theatre, Shakespeare and modern re-interpretation of his plays and Israeli drama on the stage (especially Hanoch Levin). Between 1985-1995, Shai worked as an active theatre director in various fringe theatres in Israel and London and participated four times in the Acre Festival for Alternative Theatre. Since 2000 he has been the theatre critic for Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest-circulation daily newspaper in Israel, and he also does reviews for Galei Zahal radio station. Shai has published many articles in the daily newspapers in Israel and also performance analyses of individual productions for Sal Tarbut Artzi (the central organization for cultural education in Israel). He has presented papers at academic conferences and published articles on a wide range of topics, such as "Requiem: Hanokh Levin’s Theatre of Death and the Return of the Storyteller”, JTD -Journal of Theatre and Drama, Vol. 7/8, 2001/2 (2006). He has also taken part in organizing several academic conferences at the Hebrew University including a conference on "Multi-culturalism on the Israeli Stage" (2009) and a conference on "Strindberg Beyond Borders" (2012) held in honor of the centennial of the death of the influential Swedish playwright. Shai's research interests are in various fields, such as the relationship between theatrical theory and practice, the Israeli theatre, Shakespeare on the modern stage and representations of masculinity on the modern stage.
Personal statement: "Teaching in the Theatre Department gives me a chance to pass on to students the essential connection between theoretical approaches to the theatre and the practical staging possibilities. To my mind only such a combination between the theoretical and the practical can bring about really innovative theatrical work."