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. Recent publications include The Methuen Drama Book of Naturalist Plays (2010) and Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present (co-edited with Alison Forsyth; Palgrave Macmillan, 2009): 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 70s although I've written 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. My book Decades of Modern British Playwriting - the 1970s (Methuen Drama, 2012) includes fresh critical perspectives and interviews pertaining to the theatre of that complex, fascinating decade. I've also recently completed commissioned essays on the 'memory plays' of Harold Pinter in the 1970s, and the work/legacy of Portable Theatre.

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 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 public events including at the Barbican, the LSE Literary Festival, the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the Pleasance Theatre, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the Royal College of Art, and on the BBC World Service. I'm a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and I also review for Research Councils in Australia and Canada. I've co-edited Contemporary Theatre Review (Backpages) for many years.

I'm active in promoting theatre to external audiences and public bodies. As a member of the British Theatre Consortium, I was Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded 'Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution' project 2013-14 (click on the BTC link for more details). I was also very pleased recently to be appointed a Fellow of the RSA (by invitation), which opens up more opportunities for sharing research with a wider audience. 

For many years, I worked as an actor in a 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 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.

My personal website is chrismegson.com (please note that content therein does not necessarily reflect the views of Royal Holloway College).

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