Accessibility statement

Professor Tom Cantrell
Professor in Theatre Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students



I am a Professor of Theatre and Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning and Students in the Arts and Humanities Faculty. As Associate Dean I lead on the management, strategic initiatives and development of learning and teaching across the faculty. Within the School of Arts and Creative Technologies, I teach on the BA in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance and the MA in Theatre-Making as well as supervising doctoral research students. From January 2025, I will be Head of the School of Arts and Creative Technologies.

My research addresses questions of performance, approaches to theatre-making and acting processes. To date, I have published four books on acting and have recently co-edited Research and Development in British Theatre which will be published by Bloomsbury next year. I am currently writing a book which explores the work of the National Theatre Studio. My past publications have explored acting processes for television, including Acting in British Television and Exploring Television Acting, both written with Christopher Hogg, and documentary theatre, including Acting in Documentary Theatre and Playing for Real, alongside a number of articles. 

I have held visiting professorships at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne and Concordia University, Montreal, where I was scholar-in-residence at the Acts of Listening Lab.



My research interests include: acting theory and practice, television performance, verbatim and documentary theatre and television, modern British political theatre, and approaches to research and development in theatre-making.

My research addresses questions of performance and, in particular, acting processes. To date, I have published four books on acting. Recently, I have been researching acting processes for television with Christopher Hogg (University of Westminster), and have published a number of articles on this theme. Our work is the first detailed research into how actors approach the specific demands of television. Most research views performance via textual analysis of the finished product. By contrast, we use interviews with celebrated television actors to focus on their process, and how they bring their skills to bear on this particular medium. We have recently published Acting in British Television (Palgrave, 2017) and an edited collection, Exploring Television Acting, for Bloomsbury (2018).

My previous research has focused on how actors approach playing real people. I co-edited Playing for Real with Mary Luckhurst (Palgrave, 2010), which is a collection of interviews with high-profile actors who have portrayed real people on stage and screen. Interviewees included Ian McKellen, Eileen Atkins, David Morrissey and Joseph Mydell. I continued to pursue my interest in the challenges of playing real people in my monograph, Acting in Documentary Theatre, which was published by Palgrave in 2013. Including new interview material with over forty actors, directors and writers, my book was the first to explore the challenges of acting in documentary theatre.

Recent Research Papers:

  • Feb 2024: ‘Care and Tribunal Theatre: The Grenfell Tower Inquiry’, Performing Care and Carelessness Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • June 2023: ‘The Actor in the Doc’, Documentary Theatre: New Perspectives and Practices Symposium, University of Galway, Ireland
  • March 2023: ‘Giving evidence: documentary theatre and approaches to listening’, Comparative Drama Conference, Orlando, Florida, USA
  • April 2022: ‘Performing oral testimony: tribunal theatre and approaches to listening’, Performing Oral History Symposium, Greenwich University
  • March 2022: ‘Documentary theatre performance: modes of listening’, Concordia University, Montreal
  • December 2021: ‘Playing Real People on Stage and Screen’, Université de Picardie Jules Verne 
  • December 2021: ‘La question du jeu dans les théâtres documentaires’, Artcena, Paris
  • March 2020: ‘Actor Training for Television Performance’, Visiting Researcher Seminar Series, LAMDA


Selected publications


  • Research and Development in British Theatre, co-edited with Katherine Graham, Mark Love-Smith and Karen Quigley (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2025).
  • Exploring Television Acting, co-edited with Christopher Hogg (Bloomsbury, 2018)
  • Acting in British Television, with Christopher Hogg (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
  • Acting in Documentary Theatre (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
  • Playing for Real: Actors on Playing Real People, co-edited with Mary Luckhurst (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)


  • ‘R&D at the National Theatre Studio: London Road’, Research and Development in British Theatre, co-edited with Katherine Graham, Mark Love-Smith and Karen Quigley (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2025)  
  • ‘Storytelling and Stand-up: The Ephemeral Performances of Daniel Kitson’, Theatre Fandom, ed. Kirsty Sedgman (University of Iowa Press, forthcoming).
  • ‘'The Organic and the Technical': A Psychophysical Approach to Television Acting’, Exploring Television Acting, ed. Tom Cantrell and Christopher Hogg (Bloomsbury, 2018).


  • 'Scenes from the Inquiry: Tribunal theatre and the act of listening', Research in Drama Education (RiDE): The Journal for Applied Performance, (2023)
  • ‘Document[ary] Theatre: Acting with facts / Théâtre documentaire - Jouer à partir de faits réels’ (trans. Kenza Jernite), Thaêtre. Marion Boudier and Chloé Déchery (ed.) (2022)
  • ‘Directing Actors in Continuing Drama: Meaning-making and Creative Labour’, Critical Studies in Television (2018)
  • ‘Returning to an Old Question: What Do Television Actors Do When They Act’, with Christopher Hogg, Critical Studies in Television (2016)
  • '"In the doc": Acting Processes in Brian Hill's docudrama, Consent', Journal of British Cinema and Television (2016)

External activities


Member of York Minster Mystery Plays Charity.

I have also held positions on the Board of Governors of York Theatre Royal and York Civic Trust Education Committee.


Contact details

Professor Tom Cantrell
School of Arts and Creative Technologies
University of York
YO10 5GB

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5236