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. 

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 was Co-Investigator on 'Understanding Audiences for the Contemporary Arts', an AHRC-funded research project which concluded in 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.

Recent and 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, the dramatisation of the experiences of First World War female munitions workers, and new forms of participatory performance.

I am currently supervising two PhD students, whose research focuses upon contemporary performance being produced in the North East, and new plays exploring sex and silencing.


In 2019-20 I am contributing to

SEL1003  'Introduction to Literary Studies 1' 


SEL1031 'Drama, Theatre, Performance'

as well as supervising undergraduate and MA Dissertations. 

I also supervise the research of 2 PhD students.