I am interested in why we (still) make theatre and performance: what is it for, what does it do culturally, politically, socially, aesthetically? Within this overarching frame, my research interests lie in critical approaches to contemporary performance and the relationship between performance and the wider socio-cultural and political contexts in which it is made. My work is engaged with poststructuralist and political philosophy, is interdisciplinary in nature and particularly focused on questions of spectatorship, witnessing, trauma and ethics and is concerned to explore the socio-political efficacy of theatre, performance and other cultural practices.
As well as numerous journal articles and book chapters, my publications include a special issue of the international journal Performance Research, entitled On Trauma (2011), a monograph investigating the relationship between contemporary performance and trauma - Trauma-Tragedy: Symptoms of Contemporary Performance (Manchester UP 2012), and an edited volume on the history and politics of small-scale British theatre - Reverberations Across Small-Scale British Theatre: Politics, Aesthetics and Forms (Intellect 2013). I have recently published a co-edited collection entitled Performing (for) Survival: Theatre, Crisis and Extremity (Palgrave 2016); the book examines performance practices that emerged in and during moments of conflict, crisis and extremity (rather than applied practices or on post fact representations).
I am currently working on two related book projects:
a short (40k words) co-authored book tentatively entitled ‘Project Fear’: Cultural Negotiations of Fear and Anxiety (with Prof. Steffi Brusberg, University of Hildesheim, Germany).
a sole-authored, full length monograph under the working title Dis-eased: Contemporary Performance and the Politics of Fear.
I am also collaborating with colleagues at the Institute of Education, Imperial College and a consultant surgeon on a project investigating conceptualizations of failure and human error.
I joined the Drama Department at University of Surrey as Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance in February 2015; before that I was Lecturer in Drama at University of Exeter (2012 - 2015) and previously a lecturer in the Division of Performance Studies, University of Northampton. I gained my PhD from the University of Leeds (2009) where I was also a visiting lecturer. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
political/ideological 'functions' of cultural practices
theatre/performance and trauma
ethics, witnessing and spectatorship
contemporary performance practices
critical approaches to performance
theatre in contexts of crisis or extremity
failure and human error
fear and anxiety
interdisciplinary research practice
I am currently working on two collaborative projects:
an interdisciplinary project exploring contemporary cultural products and practices that attend to questions of fear and anxiety, with Professor Steffi Brusberg, University of Hildesheim (Germany)
a multidisciplinary investigation of failure and human error with colleagues from Imperial College, the UCL Institute of Education and an ENT surgeon
Co-Convener of the Performance and the Body Working Group for TaPRA
(2017) 'On the Radical Political Potential of Performance: witnessing, implication and ethics in representations of the Northern Irish Dirty Protests and Hunger Strikes (1976 – 1981)'. Taylor & Francis Contemporary Theatre Review, [ Status: Accepted ]
In titling our chapter ‘Performance and…’ our intention is not to privilege performance studies over theatre studies or drama but rather to call to attention the longstanding proposition that performance (studies) ‘resists or rejects definition’ (Schechner, Richard, 1998, ‘What Is ‘Performance Studies’ Anyway?’ in: P. Phelan and J. Lane (eds.), The Ends of Performance, NYU Press, p. 360) and as such highlight the potential it holds for interdisciplinary scholarship and the way in which the idea of performance has been conceived fluidly and expansively, both key concerns of all the volumes reviewed here. We are, we hope, at a point in the development of performance and theatre studies where there is an understanding, acceptance and exploration of the mutually constructive and beneficial interweaving of these two ‘traditions’ of scholarship within the broader field of drama. In the books we look at, both ‘theatre’ and ‘performance’ are brought to bear on the matters at hand almost interchangeably, with established text-based dramas taking their place alongside works in the performance art tradition to further arguments pertaining to a variety of disciplines. Such plurality of approach is a defining feature of the works we have chosen to discuss and binds them to a common purpose: the exploration of drama/theatre/performance in, with and between other disciplines and discourses in the pursuit of illuminating the world around us in more meaningful ways.
(2013) 'Others, Spectatorship, and the Ethics of Verbatim Performance'. NTQ: New Theatre Quarterly, 29 (2)
(2011) 'Trauma and Performance: Maps, narratives and folds'. Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, 16 (1)
(2009) 'The Touch and the Cut: An annotated dialogue with Kira O’Reilly'. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 29 (3)
(2013) Reverberations across Small-Scale British Theatre: Politics, Aesthetics and Forms.
BOOK (AUTHORED & EDITED)
(2012) Trauma-Tragedy: Symptoms of contemporary performance. Manchester : Manchester University Press
BOOK (AUTHORED & EDITED)
(2011) Performance Research: On Trauma. 1st Edition. Taylor and Francis 16
BOOK (AUTHORED & EDITED)
(2016) '‘Dis-ease’ and the Performance of Radical Resistance in the Maze Prison'. in Duggan P, Peschel P (eds.) Performing (for) Survival: Theatre, Crisis, Extremity
(2014) 'Theatre’s immediacy: notes on performing ‘with’ Žižek'. in Chow B (ed.) Žižek and Performance
Palgrave Macmillan Article number 13
(2013) 'Political theatre ‘without finger-wagging’: On The Paper Birds’ and integrative aesthetics'. in Duggan P (ed.) Reverberations across Small-Scale British Theatre: Politics, Aesthetics and Forms
(2011) 'Staging the Impossible: Severance and separation in the National Theatre’s adaptation of His Dark Materials'. in Barfield S (ed.) Critical Perspectives on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials: Essays on the Novels, the Film and the Stage Productions