Theatre and Performance Studies at UNSW is a hub for research in both Australasian and European performance. Our discipline has these particular research strengths:

Contemporary theatre and performance

Our research on theatre and performance in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries investigates all aspects of performance, including rehearsal, production and reception. We research in the areas of: Australian drama and theatre, multimedia performance, performance art, political performance, postdramatic theatre, live entertainment, refugee theatre, and theatres of the real. Our publications look at artists as diverse as theatre makers Antonin Artaud and Bertolt Brecht, choreographers Pina Bausch and Trisha Brown, companies Back to Back, Dumb Type, and Rimini Protokoll, and performance artists Mike Parr and William Yang.

Interdisciplinary performance

We research multimedia theatre and performance, new media dramaturgies, the relationship between dance and film, and the curation of performance in galleries and museums. This work has been published in a wide variety of formats and outlets, ranging from scholarly monographs to online databases. We place our articles in journals associated with theatre, performance and dance studies as well as digital media, cultural studies, legal studies and more.

Creative practice-as-research

We are well suited to support creative practice as and alongside scholarly research, with strengths in movement and screendance (Brannigan), dramaturgy and devising (Wake, Trezise) and performance writing and collaborative practices (Schmidt). We frequently undertake research projects in collaboration with artists. The School is well-resourced by the UNSW Creative Practice Lab, a production unit with an extensive creative team and facilities to support teaching, practice-led research at postgraduate and Honours levels, and artistic residencies.

Performance Archives

Our research engages with archival practice and documentation in the performing arts. Theatre and Performance Studies at UNSW is a founding partner of AusStage, the online resource for researching Australian performance. We have published on digital humanities, data visualisation and network analysis in theatre research. Our archival research connects with Performance Space, Griffin Theatre Company and other organisations in Sydney. We are also working on the Dennis Wolanski Library collection through the Performance Memories Project in conjunction with the UNSW Library and the Wolanski Foundation.

Our research has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the State Library of NSW, among others. Our scholars have been awarded grants in Contemporary Theatre, New Media Dramaturgies and Experimental Humanities.

We play a significant role in the dissemination of research through our considerable contributions to national publishers, press and journals. Our researchers co-edit Performance Paradigm, an interdisciplinary refereed journal that reflects contemporary performance research across a range of cultures and contexts. We also write for the national performance publication RealTime, and are represented on the editorial board of journals such as Contemporary Theatre Review, Performance Philosophy, Performance Research, The Brecht Yearbook and Theatre Research International.

Research Areas

Dr Jonathan Bollen, Senior Lecturer – Australian theatre, live entertainment, popular performance

Dr Erin Brannigan, Senior Lecturer – cinema studies, aesthetics, dance, performance and installation art

Dr Meg Mumford, Senior Lecturer – German theatre, intercultural encounter, political theatre and performance, theatres of the real

Dr John Golder, Visiting Senior Research Fellow – French theatre, theatre architecture, rehearsal practice

Clare Grant, Honorary Lecturer – creation of new works for theatre, performance, radio and film

Prof Robert Jordon, Emeritus Professor – theatre history of colonial Australia

John McCallum, Honorary Senior Lecturer – theatre reviewing, Australian drama, comedy

Prof Edward Scheer, Professor – performance studies, visual culture, performance art and aesthetics, multimedia performance

Dr Theron Schmidt, Lecturer – contemporary theatre and performance, Live Art, participatory art practices, performance writing, art and activism

Dr Bryoni Trezise, Senior Lecturer – contemporary and postdramatic theatre practices, processes of cultural memory, theories of affect, feeling and spectatorship

Dr Caroline Wake, Lecturer; Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow – contemporary theatre and performance, applied theatre, political performance, critical theory, spectatorship


Current Projects

Katy Alexander, PhD candidate – Integrated media performance, its histories, dramaturgies and practices – Robert Lepage and Ex Machina, Cloud Eye Control, Miwa Mayatrek, Theatre Gargantua, Video Designers Tal Yarden, Peter Flaherty and Mic Gruchy, and Night Parrot Productions.

Boni Cairncross, PhD candidate – The role of the senses in the production and reception of visual art and performance practices – can artistic propositions offer an embodied critique of the western conceptualisation of sensation that privileges sight

Charlotte Farrell, PhD candidate - A detailed engagement with Barrie Kosky's radical adaptations of classical tragedy in Australia between 1990 and 2008. The thesis develops a theory of post-tragedy and post-tragic affect through the prism of Kosky's work.

Maryanne Gifford, PhD candidate – A close analysis of Australian vaudeville scripts for performance written between 1900 and 1930. The scripts provide clues to lost performance styles and to the unique relationship performers had with their audience.

Nitin Vengurlekar, PhD candidate – A Lacanian analysis of choreography in works by dance-theatre artist Pina Bausch and film-maker Jacques Tati that focuses on the mechanisms by which these choreographies elicit the gaze, thereby challenging historically specific modes of consciousness and the subjectivity of the spectator.

Nalina Wait, PhD candidate – Using theories of embodied cognition, monism, affect and somatics to unpack the major innovations in improvised compositional practice by detailing the experience/experiments of the improvising dancer, and articulating modes of practice that are elusive and multidimensional.

Maria White, PhD candidate – An exploration of the rhetoric and performance of democracy in contemporary performance works from Australia and other Western post-democratic contexts.

Recent Completions

John Severn, PhD, 2015 – Shakespeare as Jukebox Musical

Jennifer Hamilton, PhD, 2013 – 'What is the cause of thunder?': A Study of the Storm in King Lear

Caroline Wake, PhD, 2011 – Performing Witness: Testimonial Theatre in the Age of Asylum, Australia 2000–2005

David Macswan, PhD, 2010 – How Daphne Pays his Debts: Sir William D'Avenant and the Evolution of the Shakespearean Actress

Julie-Anne Long, PhD, 2010 – Walking in Sydney Looking for Dancing: An Auto-ethnographic Mapping of the Place of Independent Dance

Rebecca Cains, PhD, 2008 – Troubling Spaces: The Politics of “New” Community-based Guerrilla Performance in Australia

Rosemary Klich, PhD, 2007 – Multimedia Theatre in the Virtual Age

David Williams, PhD, 2007 – Undoing Theatre: Forced Entertainment and 'the formless'

Bryoni Trezise, PhD, 2007 – Performing Postmemories: Recollection in Crisis

Max Lyandvert, MA, 2006 – Origins and Destinations: Representation in the Theatre of Romeo Castellucci

Irene Sarrinikolaou, PhD, 2006 – The Ontological status of Pirandello's Metacharacters: Six Characters in Search of a Platonic Author

Margaret Hamilton, PhD, 2005 – From the 'New wave' to the 'Unnameable': Post-dramatic Theatre and Australia in the 1980s and 1990s

Merryn Liane, PhD, 2004 – Embodied Text: Corporeality and the Contemporary Performance Monologist

Erin Brannigan, PhD, 2004 – A Cinema of Movement: Dance and the Moving Image

Pam Karantonis, PhD, 2003 – Impersonation

Peter Cooke, PhD, 2002 – Loudon Sainthill, 1919-1969: An Australian Theatre Designer Abroad

Anna Kamaralli, MA Hons, 2002 – Shrewd Tempters with their Tongues : Shakespeare's Isabella and Cressida on the Modern Stage

Ailsa Mcpherson, PhD, 2001 – Diversions in a Tented Field: Theatricality and the Images and Perceptions of Warfare in Sydney Entertainments 1879-1902