Professor of English Literature, University of Sheffield

I joined the School of English at Sheffield University in 2007, having previously taught at Leeds University and the University of Northampton

I have always been curious about the diversity of ways in which theatrical performance can be generated, an interest I have pursued in various forms for more than 20 years. I have trained with numerous companies including Forced Entertainment, Welfare State International, the Polish physical theatre company Song of the Goat, Station House Opera and Told by an Idiot, and these methods have influenced my teaching and creative work, as well as my research and writing.

I have an academic and creative interest in practices of theatrical adaptation and rewriting, a research area I pursued at doctoral level: my PhD (at the University of Warwick) addressed the treatment of gender themes in theatrical reworkings of myth and fairytale, research that later fed into my monograph, Re-visioning Myth: Modern and Contemporary Drama by Women (Manchester University Press, 2011). More recently, my attention has turned to issues of form in adaptation, specifically in translations and transformations of prose to performance: this research interest led to my most recent monograph, Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2018).

I have long been inspired by the work of the radical Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal, who sadly died in 2009. After training with Boal, I applied his techniques of participatory practice in a range of community contexts. My monograph Augusto Boal, a study of Boal´s theatre theory and practice, was published by Routledge in 2004 and reissued in a revised edition in 2018. I also edited a special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review looking at the ways these kinds of techniques are being used, titled Working Without Boal: Digressions and Developments in the Theatre of the Oppressed (1995), and have published chapters on Boal’s practice elsewhere, including in Kelly Howe et. al. eds. The Routledge Companion to the Theatre of the Oppressed (Routledge 2019) and Alison Hodge ed. Actor Training (Routledge, 2009).

At the moment, my research and writing is principally concentrated in the area of theatre and adaptation studies. Having published several articles and chapters on the subject, I examined this at greater length in my most recent monograph, Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2018). My research on adaptation is pursued at the level of practice also. At present, I am working with colleagues in Early Modern Literature, Animal Studies, and Linguistics to create and perform in a stage event adapting William Baldwin’s Beware the Cat (1553), a book regarded by many scholars as the first English novel. Our version of Beware the Cat, which combines the archaic language of the original with new visual artwork and performed ‘marginalia’, forms part of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind (September 2018).

teach on the undergraduate English & Theatre programme as well as the MA in Theatre & Performance Studies. My undergraduate modules include LIT241 Adaptation: Theory & Practice; EGH223 Radical Texts: Transforming Performance, 1920s to the Present; LIT3048 Women Playwrights on the International Stage, 1880s-1930s. At Masters level, I regularly teach or co-teach LIT6017 Theatre Practice 1, LIT6015 Theatre Practice 2 and LIT6036 Issues in Contemporary Performance.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of English Literature, University of Sheffield