STR Lecture Series 2016: ‘Re-evaluating the Actresses’ Franchise League: Suffrage Theatre, Networks and Activism’

You are warmly invited to the next talk of the 2015-16 Society for Theatre Research annual lecture series, which takes place on Wednesday 13 April 2016 at 7.30pm at the Swedenborg Hall, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH.

DR NAOMI PAXTON will present ‘Re-evaluating the Actresses’ Franchise League: Suffrage Theatre, Networks and Activism’

The Actresses’ Franchise League was formed in 1908 by a group of theatre professionals keen to support the work of the suffrage societies. Neutral in regard to tactics, the variety of their work and contributions to the performative propaganda of the suffrage movement shows an organisation embracing new forms, new spaces, new ideas and new audiences. This lecture will explore the work of the Actresses’ Franchise League, the networks created by and through the League and the organisation after 1918, drawing on both suffrage and theatre histories to tell the story of suffragist actresses and actors and their political activism.

Dr Naomi Paxton is an actress, performer and researcher and has appeared in the West End and on tour in the UK and internationally. She has shared her passion for the work of the Actresses’ Franchise League at many events, including the National Theatre, Hay Festival and Latitude Festival and was one of the AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers for 2014-15. From 2015-16 she was Research Associate for the AHRC funded project Poor Theatres at the University of Manchester. Naomi edited The Methuen Drama Book of Suffrage Plays (Bloomsbury, 2013), is an Associate Artist of the feminist production hub Scary Little Girls and is currently Cultural Engagement Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The talk will be livestreamed here:

These events are free and open to everyone. For further information about the STR and events see the society’s website:

STR Lecture Series: ‘The Development of Professional Stage Management’

The next talk of the 2015-16 Society for Theatre Research annual lecture series takes place on Thursday 10 March 2016 at 7.30pm at the Swedenborg Hall, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH.


Primary evidence from the earliest theatre-based companies in Britain indicates that ever since there have been professional theatres, there has been professionalstage management.  This lecture will explore the development of professional stage management in this country by considering primary sources that demonstrate its progression since the late sixteenth century, drawing on the earliest surviving prompt copies to reveal how the first theatre-based companies were supported in their performances by an infrastructure that is recognisabletoday as stage management.

Dr Tracy Cattell is a professional Deputy Stage Manager whose experience ranges from subsidised repertory and theatre-in-education to opera and daily repertoire, in which genre she continues to practise on a freelance basis.  She undertook her doctorate at the University of Warwick and has a particular research interest in the development of cued performance.  She lectures on the practical staging of Shakespeare, contemporary and historical stage management practice, and the interpretation of promptbook annotations, and enjoys sharing her research and professional heritage with professionals in training.  She is a member of the Theatre History & Historiography Working Group of the Theatre and Performance Research Association, and the Society for Theatre Research’s New Researchers’ Network.

If you are unable to attend in person, the lecture will be live streamed and can be accessed at:

Forthcoming talk for your diary:

• Wednesday 13 April: Dr Naomi Paxton, ‘Re-evaluating the Actresses’ Franchise League: Suffrage Theatre, Networks and Activism’

These events are free and open to everyone. They commence at 7.30pm in the Swedenborg Hall, Holborn. For further details see the STR’s website:

STR Lecture Series: ‘Screening Sarah Bernhardt: Reinterpreting Acting on Silent Film’

The next talk of the 2015-16 Society for Theatre Research annual lecture series takes place on Tuesday 19 January 2016 at 7.30pm at the Swedenborg Hall, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH.

DR VICTORIA DUCKETT will present Screening Sarah Bernhardt: Reinterpreting Acting on Silent Film’

Sarah Bernhardt, the great nineteenth-century theatrical actress, was also the first major international film star. Appearing cross-dressed in a short Hamlet film before international audiences at the Paris Exposition of 1900, this 56-year-old French actress most famously went on to make Camille (La Dame aux Camélias, 1911) and Queen Elizabeth (Les Amours de la Reine Elisabeth, 1912).  Later appearing in one of the first celebrity home movies (Sarah Bernhardt at Home, 1915), she also made a WWI propaganda film, Mothers of France (Mères Françaises, 1917). This presentation explores these films as evidence of a productive exchange between the stage and the nascent film industry. Rather than see Bernhardt’s acting as evidence of the theatre’s incommensurability with film, it will demonstrate the legacy of her stage acting as she adapted it to early film. The talk will include screenings of the films accompanied by live music.

Dr Victoria Duckett is a lecturer in Media and Communications in the School of Communications and Creative Arts at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is author of Seeing Sarah Bernhardt: Performance and Silent Film (2015) and co-editor of Researching Women in Silent Cinema: New Findings and Perspectives (2013). Victoria is on the editorial boards of Feminisms, Medias, Histories and Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film and is a member of the steering committee of Women and Film History International.

The talk will be livestreamed:


Forthcoming talks for your diary:

  • Thursday 11 February, Dr Kate Dorney, ‘Excavating Enthoven: the Life and Times of a Theatre Collector’


  • Thursday 10 March, Dr Tracy Cattell, ‘The Development of Professional Stage Management


  • Wednesday 13 April, Dr Naomi Paxton, ‘Re-evaluating the Actresses’ Franchise League: Suffrage Theatre, Networks and Activism’

These events are free and open to all. They commence at 7.30pm in the Swedenborg Hall, Holborn. For further details see the STR’s website:


STR Maggie Collins Christmas Lecture: ‘Camp as Christmas? Cross-Dressed Capers in Pantoland’

The Society for Theatre Research is pleased to invite you to:

The Maggie Collins Christmas Lecture on Monday 7 December 2015 at 7.30pm at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT

 Simon Sladen will present Camp as Christmas? Cross-Dressed Capers in Pantoland’

In December 2013, the National Database of Pantomime Performance reported that only 10% of pantomimes that season cast a female Principal Boy, a marked decrease from the dominance of the breeches role in Victorian pantomime. But whilst female Principal Boys appear to be in decline, the Dame is more popular than ever with almost all productions of Peter Pan now integrating the stock character and making her a vital aspect of proceedings. Rooted firmly in the present, this talk will explore the world of the twenty-first century Dame and Principal Boy, whilst also considering the evolution and impact of the male Benevolent Agent. From slapstick to sequins, Simon Sladen provides an insight into some of our most loved and most transformed pantomime characters.

Simon Sladen is Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is Pantomime Editor for the British Theatre Guide and Founder of National Panto Day, which this year celebrates its fifth anniversary with ‘The Year of the Dame’. He is also Curator of the National Database of Pantomime Performance, a project kindly funded and supported by the Society for Theatre Research.

The lecture is free and open to all.

STR Lecture Series 2015/2016: Seventy Years of Theatre History Research, 1945-2015

You are warmly invited to the next Society for Theatre Research lecture.
Wednesday 11 November 2015 at 7.30pm at the Swedenborg Hall
Seventy Years of Theatre History Research, 1945 – 2015
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the STR’s journal, Theatre Notebook, a panel of past and present editors will explore the journal’s history and the changing nature of writing about theatre history. When the founder editors published the first six-page issue of Theatre Notebook in October 1945 they could scarcely have conceived the developments that would flow from that modest beginning. The panel will consider some of the changes to the landscape of theatre history in the last seventy years, from the rise of drama and theatre studies as an academic subject to the impact of the digital revolution on theatre research.
The panel will include the current editorial team (Professor Trevor R. Griffiths, Professor Gabriel Egan and Dr Sarah McCleave) and former editors Professor Claire Cochrane and Dr Marion O’Connor.
This event is free and open to all.
Can’t make it? Check out the LiveStream link here:

STR Lecture Series 2015-2016 // ‘Fighting Talk — The Secrets of Stage Combat Revealed’

The first talk of the 2015-16 Society for Theatre Research annual lecture series takes place tomorrowTuesday 13 October at 7.30pm at the Swedenborg Hall, 20 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

TERRY KING will present ‘Fighting Talk – The Secrets Of Stage Combat Revealed’

Live theatre relies on the skill and creativity of the fight director to choreograph scenes of violence and to train actors in the safe execution of physical combat. This talk, given by one of Britain’s pre-eminent practitioners, offers an opportunity to hear about how stage fights are put together, to participate in some simple demonstrations, to ask questions or just observe.

Terry King has worked as a Fight Director at all the major theatre companies in Britain with extensive credits for productions with the RSC and National Theatre. Tackling everything from the classical repertoire to soap opera, he has worked on numerous operas and West End musicals and in film and television.

The event is free and open to all.

For those who cannot attend in person, please feel free to join in online via our live streaming link:

STR Wickham Lecture 2015: Professor Gay McAuley, ‘Observing the creative process: directors and actors in rehearsal’

You are warmly invited to join us for the 2015 Wickham Lecture, co-presented by the University of Bristol Theatre Department and the Society for Theatre Research.

‘Observing the creative process:
directors and actors in rehearsal’

Professor Gay McAuley

Honorary Professor, University of Sydney

Rehearsal is popularly assumed to have been part of theatre practice for as long as the theatre has existed. But in fact rehearsal, as we now know it, is substantially an invention of the 20th century, inextricably bound up with the emergence of the role of the director. Traditionally closed to outsiders, relatively little has so far been written about the rehearsal process by theatre studies scholars.

How does one gain access to this closed world? How does one begin to analyse rehearsal? What does the creative process reveal about the work of art that is created? What can contemporary rehearsal practice reveal about group creativity? Drawing on many years of research and collaboration between academics and practitioners at the University of Sydney, Professor McAuley will discuss practical, methodological, ethical and conceptual issues involved in this developing field of study.

5.30pm Wednesday 13th May

The Wickham Theatre

Vandyck Building, Cantocks Close, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UP

Gay McAuley is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Performance Studies (University of Sydney). She has a BA in Drama, French and German, and a Ph.D in French from the University of Bristol. She taught theatre and film in the French Department at the University of Sydney before establishing Performance Studies as an interdisciplinary centre in 1989. Through the 70s and 80s she established collaboration between academics and practising artists for teaching and research purposes, and in the 90s she pioneered the application of ethnographic methodologies to the study of rehearsal process. Her book Space in Performance (1999) examines the many functions of space in the theatre experience. She then extended her exploration of spatial semiotics to site-based performance practices, with particular reference to the relation between place and memory (Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place 2006). Her most recent book is an ethnographic study of rehearsal process (Not Magic But Work 2012).

This annual lecture is presented to recognize Professor Glynne Wickham’s service to the Society for Theatre Research and his contribution to Theatre Studies in Bristol and world-wide.

STR Lecture Series 2015: ‘Beckett Goes Nude: Breath, Oh! Calcutta! & the Sexual Revolution’

The Society for Theatre Research invites you to the next event in its lecture series:
Beckett Goes Nude: Breath, Oh! Calcutta!  & the Sexual Revolution
Thursday 16 April 2015 at 7.30pm, Swedenborg Hall, London
Presented by Dr Graham Saunders
Most theatre audiences first introduction to Samuel Beckett’s drama in the early 1970s come not from major works such as Waiting for Godot or Endgame, but a ‘dramaticule’ lasting less than forty seconds. The piece, entitled Breath reached mass audiences worldwide due it opening an erotic revue, Oh! Calcutta! devised by the theatre critic Kenneth Tynan. The show was heralded as landmark cultural event in espousing the spirit of sexual liberation that came to define the late 1960s. It opened in New York, but its original conception and many of its themes and preoccupations where definably British and its impetus came out of the struggles against the system of theatre censorship that existed in the UK until 1968.
Drawing extensively on archival sources including the Kenneth Tynan and Harold Pinter collections at the British Library as well as the Beckett archive at the University of Reading, this lecture will look in detail at Beckett’s somewhat unwilling secondment into the mores of the late 1960s’ sexual revolution through his involvement in Oh! Calcutta! Beckett’s own seeming estrangement from the utopian ideals of the times will also be framed through many of the contradictions thrown up by Tynan’s erotic revue.
Graham Saunders is Reader in Theatre Studies at the University of Reading. He is author of Love me or Kill me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes (Manchester: MUP, 2002), About Kane: the Playwright and the Work (London: Faber 2009), Patrick Marber’s Closer(Continuum, 2008) and co-editor of Cool Britannia: Political Theatre in the 1990s (Palgrave, 2008) and Sarah Kane in Context (MUP, 2010). He was Principal Investigator for the five year AHRC funded ‘Giving a Voice to the Nation’: the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Development of Theatre & Performance in Britain 1945-1994’ and is currently co-investigator on the three year AHRC funded project Staging Beckett: The Impact of Productions of Samuel Beckett’s Drama on Theatre Practice and Cultures in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The event is free and open to all. Can’t make it? Livestream it here:

STR Lecture Series: ‘The Gladiator, the Indian, the Dutchman and Shakespeare: Three American Actors in Nineteenth-Century England’

The next Society for Theatre Research lecture will be:

The Gladiator, the Indian, the Dutchman and Shakespeare:  Three American Actors in Nineteenth-Century England

Wednesday 11 March 2015 at 7.30pm, Swedenborg Hall, London

Presented by Dr Arthur Bloom

The New York Mirror of December 4, 1880 wrote that for nineteenth-century American actors, ‘the verdict of foreigners’ was ‘the verdict of posterity’. In order to be acknowledged as a major tragedian or comedian, an American actor had to gain the respect of European, particularly English, audiences and critics. This lecture will survey the attempts of Edwin Forrest, Joseph Jefferson and Edwin Booth to find success on the English stage and will particularly focus on why Jefferson was received so positively while Forrest and Booth fought an uphill battle to gain popular and critical favour.

Dr. Arthur W. Bloom is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a PhD in Theatre History from Yale University. His academic career included work at Fisk University, Loyola University of Chicago, Loyola Marymount University and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Dean of Visual and Performing Arts. Dr. Bloom is the author of Joseph Jefferson: Dean of the American Theatre and Edwin Booth: A Biography and Performance History. In retirement he has collected over a million dollars to aid economically disadvantaged students go to college and is currently working on a biography of the early nineteenth-century American tragedian Edwin Forrest.

All welcome. Free admittance. The lecture will also be streamed live at (free account required).