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My research is concerned with the relationship of technology and the human as they manifest in play texts and performances. I am interested in such questions as: How do plays, theatre, performance, and the wider world represent the human in identity terms? Or as a subject or object in political, historical, and philosophical terms? Or as a performer or actor, whose acting approach or mode of performance is revelatory of certain assumptions about selfhood and the world? What implications do robot performers have for our understanding of theatre and performance? How do nonhuman subjects (such as robots and AI) manifest on contemporary stages and what are their implications for drama, given they, in theory, ‘live’ forever, cannot die, have enhanced cognitive capacities, and do not, necessarily, take up space in the way humans do? In short, I am concerned with exploring the ways in which theatre is responding to the posthuman condition, characterised by technology’s encroachment upon the ‘natural’ human form and society.
I have worked on two practice-based projects exploring robot performance: the first with the robot, Baxter (2016) and the second with a Nao robot (2019). I continue to research and publish on robot/AI plays and performance. My approaches are informed by theories of posthumanism, robotics, and science fiction, among others.
I am working on a monograph titled Posthuman Theatre, tentatively due for publication Christmas 2024.
I have a co-edited collection (with Siân Adiseshiah), Twenty-first Century Drama: What Happens Now (2016).
I have published on the role of theatre in robotics design, as well as on Simon Stephens, Sarah Kane, and Katie Mitchell.
I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students on research engaging with any aspect of drama and/or performance that is focused on posthuman, or posthumanist, questions and concerns. (Current PhD projects I am supervising include two practice-based projects focusing on table-top role-playing game creation and sci-fi playwriting.)
• 'The Importance of Realism, Character, and Genre: How theatre can support the creation of likeable sociable robots’, International Journal of Social Robotics (forthcoming in 2021). (Refereed journal).
• ‘“Thinking Something Makes It So”: Performing Robots, Mimesis, and the Importance of Character’ in Siân Adiseshiah and Louise LePage (eds.), Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016).
• ‘Introduction’, co-written with Siân Adiseshiah (eds.), Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016).
• ‘Rethinking Sarah Kane’s Characters: A Human(ist) Form and Politics’. Modern Drama 57.2 (June 2014). (Refereed article.)
• ‘Drama and Performance’. The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 22 (2014). Co-authored with Daniel Ploeger. Eds. Neil Badmington and David Tucker. doi:10.1093/ywcct/mbu016
The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory is a companion volume to The Year’s Work in English Studies, and is published by Oxford University Press. (12,000-word chapter) The volume provides a narrative bibliography of published work, recording significant debates and issues of interest across a broad range of research in the humanities and social sciences.
• 'Turning the Page – A Conference on New Writing.' Contemporary Theatre Review 24.2 (2014): 288-291.
• ‘Posthuman Sarah Kane.’ Contemporary Theatre Review 18.3 (August 2008): 401-3.
• ‘Posthuman Perspectives and Postdramatic Theatre: The Theory and Practice of Hybrid Ontology in Katie Mitchell’s Waves’. Culture, Language and Representation 6 (2008): 137-50. (Edited article)
• Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016). Co-edited with Siân Adiseshiah. Contributors include: Elaine Aston, Nadine Holdsworth, Una Chaudhuri, Mary Luckhurst, Chris Megson, Steve Bottoms, Emma Cox, Trish Reid, Paola Botham, Mark O’Thomas, Louise Owen, Marie Kelly, Siân Adiseshiah, and Louise LePage.
• ‘Editorial’. Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 6.2 (Summer 2012): 5-9. I co-edited this journal issue with Adam Alston.
• ‘Tim Crouch and Dan Rebellato in Conversation’. Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 6.2 (Summer 2012): 13-27.
• ‘Things that always tend to happen in Simon Stephens’ plays’. A 27-minute film featuring Dan Rebellato, Chris Megson, Aleks Sierz, and Louise LePage. Edited by Louise LePage. ‘Interventions’, Contemporary Theatre Review (2016). http://www.contemporarytheatrereview.org/2016/things-that-always-tend-to-happen-in-simon-stephens-plays/
• ‘Machine-Hamlet: To be, or not to be’. A short film whose subject is the rehearsals for a performance of Hamlet, where Hamlet is performed by a sociable industrial robot called Baxter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrOTmyZcwO0
• ‘Inside Robot Theatre: What Happens When Robots (and Children) Take to the Stage?’ 16 April 2016 in the Bulmershe Theatre, Department of Film, Theatre & Television, University of Reading. For transcript and film of the event, visit www.robottheatre.co.uk
A website I have recently constructed in order to disseminate my research.
• Rev. of Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater, by Jonathan Kalb. The Theatre Annual: A Journal of Performance Studies 65 (2012): 101-103.
• Rev. of Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s, by Aleks Sierz. Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts 7.1 (Spring 2013): 80-83.