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Theatre embraces an expanding research environment which advances a transdisciplinary vision connecting artistic performance, dance, spoken, physical and musical theatre, playwriting, digital art, and performance design, along with critical cultural performance and postcolonial studies.

The subject brings together the many research interests of its staff in order to drive investigations into unfolding exciting processes at the frontiers of the theatrical arts and performance technologies, where diverse modes of enactment, dramatic and choreographic expression, physical culture, digital creativity and cultural interaction are tested, and where social, political and historical forces shaping embodied practices are critically examined to facilitate the production of high quality research that is recognized as being of national and international significance.

The Theatre team’s research activities are organised around several key areas of contemporary performance and involves staff participation in a number of high profile research grant projects:

  • Physical theatre/dance, embodiment and performative relations with experimental poetry and writing practice
  • Performances of the body and experimental performance, interconnecting theatre and performance studies, anthropology, sociology, and gender studies
  • Intersections of bodies, cultures and identities in intercultural performance (including dance, critical race theory and contemporary South Asian dance)
  • The use of the voice in writing and experimental writing by women
  • Street theatre, British alternative theatre history, musical theatre, and intersections of gender and sexuality 
  • Commemorative practices, spectatorship and public performance of collective identity in times of social change
  • Digital performance and digital cultures, and the intersections of interactive media technologies with immersive performance, wearable design, and digital scenographies
  • Neuroaesthetics and the aesthetic potential of digitized technology for performance (artificial intelligence, motion capture, 3D modeling and animation, biotechnology)

Some of these research pursuit evolved from the Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance and its strategic aims over the past few years, namely building a leading international role in researching physical theatre and digital performance (with the biannual Artaud Forum serving as a hybrid laboratory for research symposia and exhibitions), as well as developing innovative collaborations with institutional and extra-institutional partners. Another major aim has been to sustain research excellence amongst our doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

Open to partnerships in research collaboration with others in the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences and research centers and institutions elsewhere in the UK and abroad, the team’s activities centre on the integration of creative arts, performance writing, directing, choreography and performance design with digital technologies, and several staff members also participate in the university’s research institutes and the research clusters on Transcultures Survival and Immersion/Presence.

The team won a grant for its popular Research Seminar Series on “Precarity and the Politics of Art:  Performative and Critical Empowerment after Democracy.” Staff members also serve as editors  on some of the most important research journals and book series in the field.

The core staff of Theatre includes Tom Betteridge, Johannes Birringer, Susan Broadhurst, Broderick Chow, Meretta Elliott, Holly Maples, Royona Mitra, Katerina Paramana, Grant Peterson, Mary Richards and Fiona Templeton.

Prof Johannes Birringer is research lead and coordinator for the subject. 

Email:  johannes.birringer@brunel.ac.uk

Tel.:  +44 (0) 1895 267343

Useful Links:


For an overview of the publications and research activities of our staff, please consult the staff pages. Below are some of the highlights of recent publications and artistic premieres:

  • Johannes Birringer, METABODY (EU partnership project) and DAP-Lab’s metakimospheres, world premiere April 2016
  • Susan Broadhurst, editor BST, and series editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s Studies in Performance and Technology
  • Broderick Chow: AHRC-funded Leadership Fellows project Dynamic Tensions: New Masculinities in the Performance of Fitness; see photo on Work Songs
  • Royona Mitra, New Book:  Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism.
  • Fiona Templeton, world premiere, (La Mama Theater, New York, May 2017)

Research Centres

The College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences hosts two research centres:-

These centres promote international, interdisciplinary and high impact research by acting as key points of contact between academics, practitioners and the wider community.

Related PhD courses

You are very welcome to undertake your PhD or MPhil in one of our research areas and work alongside our researchers. As a research student you'll benefit from the latest work by internationally-renowned academics and the support of our Graduate School. Many of our research initiatives involve successful collaborations with industry, the public sector, business and government, both in the UK and overseas. We have many funded and non-funded research degree opportunities available. For more information, visit our Research Degrees homepage

Fully-funded studentships

Our funded studentships become available at different times of the year. Please keep checking our page regularly to see the latest funded opportunities. We also advertise all our funded studentships as soon as they become available on the @BrunelResearch twitter account.

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