Actor with unkempt hair and back to audience in a still from the play Obscene Madame D by Theatre Kantanka.

Theatre and Performance Studies

Exploring culture and identity through performance
Delve into a vibrant spectrum of drama and performance, including theatre, dance, and live art. From political rallies to sacred rituals and pop stars, we explore how performance shapes culture, history, and individual identity.

The Theatre and Performance Studies program at the University of Sydney attracts global academic visitors and boasts renowned research staff in theatre, dance, dramaturgy, and more.

Our graduates pursue diverse paths, from professional theatre, dance, and production management to drama teaching, arts administration, and beyond while others leverage the discipline's insights and research skills in fields like law, medicine, public administration, social justice, and foreign affairs. Many of our students pursue postgraduate study and become tertiary-level educators.

Our study offering

Theatre and Performance Studies looks at a broad range of aesthetic, social and everyday performances across theatre, dance or live art and the stage, to the performative dimensions of politics, sport, cinema and popular culture. Explore a range of different approaches to performance making, engage with professional artists-in-residence and learn how to document performative events and build these observations into a detailed critical analysis.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Postgraduate Research

Current postgraduate research

  • Neil Anderson: Rudolf Steiner's Art of Acting
  • Joseph Appleton: Deviant Bodies/Queer Corporealities
  • Lawrence Ashford: Towards a Dramaturgy of Interactive Theatre
  • James Dalton: A Doctor Prepares: An Ethnographic Account of Medical Students Learning to Perform as Junior Doctors
  • Aine De Paor: Staging Ireland Down Under
  • Tess De Quincey: What can 'Body Weather Bodies' do?
  • Peta Downes: Artist or Creative Entrepreneur? The Impact of Creative Industries on Australian Theatre Practice
  • Samuel Dobson
  • David Gray
  • Rowan Greaves: White Faces and Nervous Laughter: Subversive Comedy in Australian Performance
  • Jesse Jenson-Kohl
  • Jeremy Johnson
  • Bridget Mac Eochagáin: Radicalising Rape on Stage
  • Hayden Moon
  • Adam Moulds: The Rogue Less Travelled: Writing for Performance at the National Institute of Dramatic Art
  • Izabella Nantsou: The Subsidy Question: Community Theatre and the Integral State
  • Sean O’Riordan: 'The Play's the Thing' - Shakespeare performance techniques as training tools in contemporary acting conservatoires.
  • Lillian Shaddick: Samba Showgirls: Cross cultural practice in Australian popular dance entertainment
  • Lucinda Petchell: Playing with the Past: Joy and Nostalgia in Abandoned Place
  • Ting Zheng: Transformational Role of the Dramaturgy between Drama Production Teams, Critics and Audiences in the Transitional Society of China

Our research

Our focus includes the expansive realm of performance and its intricate production and reception processes. Our areas of expertise include:

  • Australian theatre and dance history
  • Performance-making processes: theories of acting, dramaturgy, ethnography of rehearsal
  • Historical rehearsal processes and performance practices in Europe
  • Performance and health
  • Performance and social change
  • Placemaking and embodiment
  • Creative practice as research

Our facilities

Interior of the Rex Cramphorn Performance Research Studio

The Rex Cramphorn Performance Research Studio

The Rex Cramphorn Performance Research Studio is our fully-equipped studio facility available to external practitioners through our artist-in-residence program. “The Rex” is located on Level 1 of the John Woolley Building (A20). The studio can be accessed directly from Manning Rd.

Experience artistic collaboration at the Rex Cramphorn Performance Research Studio, where professional artists join forces with our staff and students to advance research in theatre and performance studies. Stay updated on our studio's projects and events by connecting with us on Facebook.

The Rex Cramphorn Studio, named in honour of a brilliant theatre director and innovator, with significant ties to the Discipline, is a versatile open space. This rectangular studio offers practitioners ample room for rehearsals, workshops, and performances, adapting to various formats with ease.

The Studio boasts a main sprung floor and a small foyer area with a kitchenette and toilets. There is also a mezzanine level housing toilets, changing rooms, and showers. The studio is well-equipped with a semi-flexible lighting grid, rated rigging positions, a theatre lighting package with control, an audio control desk, and a PA system.

Studio size specifications: Length 12.7m | Width 8.5m | Height 4m

Expressions of interest for the 2023 Rex Cramphorn Studio Artist-in-Residence program have now closed. 

The annual program of artist residencies is curated and managed by the Placements and Project Coordinator, Dr Barbara Campbell. Artist residencies are offered with the condition that artists are open to engage with students and academics; this may include student observation, class participation or invitations to showings. Contact Barbara Campbell if you’d like to discuss a project for 2024.

The discipline publishes a peer-reviewed journal, About Performance, which provides an international forum for analysis, theory and critique by academic researchers and performance makers. We welcome articles that bring theoretical perspectives derived from other disciplines to bear on performance practice. The journal is published annually, and each issue is devoted to a single theme.

Distributed via Informit Humanities & Social Sciences Collection and ProQuest Central. Editor: Ian Maxwell

Our people

Banner image: Angela Goh, Sky Blue Mythic, developed at the Rex Cramphorn Performance Research Studio for Keir Choreographic Awards, Carriageworks, 2020. Photo: Zan Wimberley.

Discipline Chair

Associate Professor Ian Maxwell

School of Art, Communication and English

Related articles

See more