Dr Chris Megson

Chris Megson

Research interests

My research investigates contemporary theatre and politics within a philosophical framework, focusing on post-war British playwriting and performance, and the broader territory of stage realism, ranging from nineteenth-century Naturalist theatre to contemporary documentary performance. Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present (which I co-edited with Alison Forsyth; Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) is the first scholarly publication to investigate the global upsurge of documentary, verbatim and tribunal theatre over the past two decades, and received positive reviews around the world. 

My research on post-war theatre has focused on the 1960s and 70s: I've published articles and essays on topics including theatre censorship, the Situationist influence on playwriting, theatrical responses to the Cold War, and the theatre of Harold Pinter, Howard Brenton and Howard Barker, amongst others. 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.

My current research opens up new territory in identifying a 'metaphysical turn' in contemporary writing for performance that places questions of belief and faith at the centre of theatrical experience. In recent publications, I have explored the wider socio-political resonance of this work in relation to debates on secularism, forms of political protest, and cultural enchantment. This project is the main focus of my current research activity.

I welcome enquiries from research students who are interested in the areas outlined above. Over the past few years, I've supervised 7 PhD students to successful completion of their projects, most of whom have since been appointed to university lectureships. I'm an experienced External Examiner of doctoral theses, nationally and internationally.



My research feeds directly into the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula at Royal Holloway - my current courses include 'Staging the Real' and the research seminar for finalists 'Contemporary British Theatre: Politics and Philosophy'. I have taught in higher education for more than twenty years and have a breadth of experience at all levels of teaching, learning and assessment, as well as course validation, programme design and quality assurance. I have guest-lectured in schools, run workshops for professional actors in industry hubs such as the former Nothern Actors' Centre, and led degree programmes and residential courses for mature and distance learning students at Rose Bruford College (where I worked for four years as Course Leader in Theatre Studies). Internationally, I have taught (by invitation) theatre students and professional practitioners in Spain, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.


Public engagement & professional activity

I'm active in promoting theatre to external audiences and professional bodies. In recent years, I've chaired events and presented my research by invitation at the National Theatre, the Barbican, the LSE Literary Festival, the Theatre Royal Haymarket, NYU Abu Dhabi, the Pleasance Theatre, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the Royal College of Art, the Young Vic, and on the BBC World Service. As a member of the British Theatre Consortium, I was Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded 'Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution' project (2013-14), which produced a major report (Critical Mass) on how and why spectators value the experience of going to the theatre. I've recently been appointed a Fellow of the RSA by invitation.

I'm a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and also review for Research Councils in Australia and Canada. Currently, I'm Intercollegiate Examiner for the Board of Arts and Law at Birkbeck College, and External Examiner at the University of Reading. I'm delighted to be Series Editor of Methuen Drama Student Editions & Guides and I'm a long-standing co-editor of Contemporary Theatre Review (BackPages).

I play a full role in the running of the Department of Drama and Theatre, currently as Director of Graduate Studies, and I completed a two-year stint as Deputy Head of Department in 2014.

My fledgling personal website is chrismegson.com and I tweet @chris_megson

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