School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Theatre Studies

Theatre Studies

The School is home to a wide range of projects, linking drama criticism with creative writing for the stage, and with the School's substantial engagement work with theatre companies, including Northern Stage, Live Theatre, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Dr Helen Freshwater works on 20th century British theatre, and has published notable monographs on Theatre & Audience and Theatre Censorship in Britain. She also works as a dramaturg and as an advisor to theatre groups ranging from the RSC and National Theatre, and Northern Stage and the Almeida, to Shams Theatre Company and theatre o. Her current project, on child performance in contemporary theatre - subjecting to critical scrutiny the role of the child performer in productions such as Billy Elliot, Mary Poppins and the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics - is funded by a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize, and links with research in the Children's Literature Unit. It also connects interestingly with work by Professor Kate Chedgzoy, Professor Peter Reynolds and Dr Shehzana Mamujee, who are investigating child performers in the early modern period.

Like Dr Freshwater, Dr Rosalind Haslett's work spans practical and critical aspects of theatre studies. Her research explores theatrical infrastructures, including theatre architecture and dramaturgy, but she is a script consultant for Live Theatre in Newcastle, and has received funding to begin the process of cataloguing and analysing their substantial archives which document Live Theatre's development from its origins in the Democratic Arts Movement of the 1970s to the thriving company that produced Lee Hall's Pitmen Painters. Dr Haslett's creative work includes a monologue commissioned for an Off-Broadway theatre in New York and a libretto performed in the Royal Opera House in London.

Professor Peter Reynolds is a specialist in the documentation of live performance and rehearsal. He has been an Education Associate of the National Theatre and works closely with Northern Stage in Newcastle, advising on programming and educational events. The online educational resource developed with the National Theatre by his DCMS-funded Stagework project, won two BAFTA awards.

Playwright Margaret Wilkinson has written drama for the stage, screen and radio, often developing her work in theatres within Newcastle such as Northern Stage and Live Theatre prior to regional or national tours, as she did with her play Blue Boy in 2012. She has a special interest in radio plays, and her works broadcast on BBC Radio 4 include Can you Hear me? (2011), Out of the Ashes (2009) and Passover (2005). Her work has been translated for productions internationally, such as by the National Theatre of Turkey.

Professor Sean O'Brien has also written extensively for the radio. His recent adaptations include a radio play of Yevgeny Zamyatin's seminal 1924 dystopian novel We for BBC Radio 4 (2004), and an adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds (2002). Recent verse dramas include a site-specific play for the BBC Radio 3 Freethinking Festival, I Cannot Cross Over, and a translation of Calderon's The Great Comedy of the Prodigious Magician, staged in 2013.

Visiting staff in the TSU include the former controller of continuing drama at BBC John Yorke, and the playwright and actor Tim Crouch.

Our students benefit from a range of opportunities to be involved in theatre productions and writing for the stage, as well as critical study of drama throughout their programmes of study. They receive support from all of our theatre specialists in developing their knowledge, understanding, critical abilities and creative and performing talents.

Staff list