School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr Helen Freshwater

Reader in Theatre & Performance


I took my PhD, MRes and undergraduate degrees at Edinburgh University, and taught at Nottingham University and Birkbeck College, London, before joining Newcastle University in 2011. I am currently Head of Literature here at Newcastle.

My research focuses upon twentieth century British theatre and contemporary performance, and my publications include Theatre & Audience and Theatre Censorship in Britain: Silencing, Censure and Suppression (which were both published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009).

I am a contributing editor to New Theatre Quarterly and Performing Ethos, and Co-Investigator on 'Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts', an AHRC-funded research project which will conclude in January 2020.


Research Interests

My research focuses upon twentieth century British theatre and contemporary performance. I have published on censorship; audiences, participation and interactivity; archive theory and historiography; and British physical theatres.

I continue to track the evolution of our understanding of audiences, and have an ongoing interest in contemporary British performance made for, with, and about children.

Forthcoming publications include a book chapter on responses to Matilda The Musical, and a piece on 'the people formerly known as the audience' for Cambridge University Press.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome applications from postgraduate students interested in working in any of the above fields.

I have previously supervised PhD projects on the history of the Tricycle theatre, London; the use of voice in British new writing for the stage; radical adaptations of Medea, and the dramatisation of the experiences of First World War female munitions workers.

I am currently supervising three PhD students, whose research focuses upon contemporary performance being produced in the North East and new theorisations of participatory performance.


In 2019-20 I am convening and teaching on

SEL2217 'Popular Performance Here and Now' 

I will also be contributing to

SEL1003  'Introduction to Literary Studies 1' 

SEL1023 'Transformations'


SEL1031 'Drama, Theatre, Performance'

as well as supervising undergraduate and MA Dissertations. 

I also supervise the research of 3 PhD students.