Dr Chris Megson

Research interests

My research investigates contemporary theatre and politics within a philosophical framework, focusing on post-war British theatre and the broader territory of stage realism, ranging from nineteenth-century Naturalism to contemporary documentary performance. In recent years, I've published The Methuen Drama Book of Naturalist Plays (2010) and Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present (co-edited with Alison Forsyth; Palgrave Macmillan, 2009; paperback, 2011): the latter is the first book to investigate the global upsurge of documentary, verbatim and tribunal theatre over the past two decades, and has received positive reviews around the world. 

My research on post-war theatre has focused on the 1960s and 1970s although I've written articles and chapters on a range of topics, including theatre censorship, the Situationist influence on playwriting, and theatrical responses to the Cold War and the war in Iraq. I've published widely on the playwrights who emerged in the late 60s including Howard Brenton, David Edgar, David Hare and, especially, Howard Barker. My book Decades of Modern British Playwriting - the 1970s (Methuen Drama, 2012) includes fresh critical perspectives and new interviews pertaining to the theatre of that complex, fascinating decade. I've also written commissioned essays on the 'memory plays' of Harold Pinter in the 1970s, and the work/legacy of Portable Theatre (my research for the latter focused on the Arts Council archives).

My current research addresses the 'metaphysical turn' in contemporary drama and, especially, the idea of 'postsecular' theatricality. I'm interested in how recent theatrical performance has negotiated questions of belief and faith in ways that reach beyond established ideological, secular or religious discourses. In 2013, I co-hosted, with colleagues from the University of Birmingham, an international and interdisciplinary symposium on metaphysical speculation in theatre and published a chapter on this topic in Vicky Angelaki's Contemporary British Theatre: Breaking New Ground (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Over the past few years, I've chaired panels and presented my research by invitation at a range of academic and public events including the Barbican, the LSE Literary Festival, the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the Pleasance Theatre, the University of Sheffield, Birmingham City University, the London Theatre Seminar, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the University of Reading, Rose Bruford College, Goldsmiths College, the University of Aberystwyth, the Royal College of Art, various schools, and on the BBC World Service. I'm a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College and I also review for Research Councils in Australia and Canada. I've worked as part of the editorial team for Contemporary Theatre Review (Backpages) for many years, am a regular reviewer for academic publishers, and am currently External Examiner for theatre courses at Birkbeck College. I'm active in promoting theatre to external audiences/public bodies as a member of the British Theatre Consortium, the consultation, research and advocacy group for British theatre in all its forms. I've recently been appointed a Fellow of the RSA (by invitation). 

For many years, I was part of an actor-run company that specialises in the application of role-play techniques in public sector training (e.g. UK prisons) and I continue to run workshops for actors, directors and educators, including a recent residency in Japan. From 2008-12, I served as Board member and Trustee of Love&Madness, a wonderful touring company that specialises in the inventive reinterpretation of classic texts.

I welcome enquiries from prospective research students who are interested in the topics outlined above. I've supervised a range of PhD students to successful completion of their projects, many of whom have since been appointed to university lectureships. I'm an experienced External Examiner of doctoral theses, nationally and internationally.

I play a full role in the administration and management of the department and currently serve as Impact Officer and Deputy Head of Department.

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