Events 2023-24

We curate a diverse programme of events, consisting of workshops, seminars, lectures, symposia and performances.  The majority of our events are open to public audiences. Unless otherwise stated, they are free of charge to attend, and take place in person. Some of our events during the course of a year will address a particular research theme. For 2023-24, our theme is entanglements.

Performance Studies International

June 20-23 2024

Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre is delighted to partner with the The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to host the Performance Studies International conference, PSi #29 – Assemble! For more information on the conference click here.

Political Economy and Acting Symposium

April 17  2024

Theatre and performance studies has, for the past decade, seen a renewed interest in questions of the actor’s labour or labouring body. This coincides with work that more broadly addresses the conditions and infrastructure of theatrical production – often putting the figure of the actor at the centre of such analysis. However, political economy is still rarely used as a lens through which to examine the conditions of professional performers and their role within the theatre industry.

This one day symposium on Political Economy and Acting is an effort to address this, bringing together research which considers the work of acting in relation to training, employment and industry. The symposium will take place Birkbeck, University of London on April 17th and is organised by the Performance and Political Economy Research Collective ( The event is supported by the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, and the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London.

Registration is free but spaces are limited, so please book a place in advance:

The symposium will be held in room G10 at 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck School of Arts.

10.15 – 10.45: Arrival and registration
10.45 -11: Opening remarks

11-12.30: Panel 1 – Industry
Nicholas Ridout: The Actor-Ideal
 Louise Owen: “JLeau is Afraid”: Allegory, Attention and Celebrity
Michael McKinnie: The Show Must Go On: The Star, the Understudy, and The West End Funny Girl
Respondent/chair: Martin Young
12.30- 1.30: Lunch

1.30 – 3: Panel 2 – Training
Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal: Professionals or Proletarians: British Actors and Class
Anthony Woods: The Machine of Want and Exploitation: Interest Discordant Behaviour in Actor Training
Lucy Tyler: ‘We are not a Conservatoire’: Somatics in and Beyond Actor Training
Paul Edwards: Not a Bug, but a Feature: A Very Brief History of [re]Current Crisis in British Actor Training
Respondent/chair: Clio Unger
3 – 3.15: Break

3.15pm- 4.45pm: Panel 3 – Employment
Kirsten Smith: “Taping Into the Void”: Acting in the Digital Economy
Saira Raimers: Making an Appearance: Typecasting and the Demands of Aesthetic Labour in Freelance Performance Work
Savannah Wiley: Tip Work, Feminisation, and the Labour of Unpaid Performance: A Close Reading of the Waitresses
Respondent/chair: Caoimhe Mader McGuinness

4.45-5pm: Closing remarks
5pm: Drinks reception


Birkbeck Theatre Annual Alumni Lecture

Monday 4 December 2023, 18.00-19.00 (on Teams)

Artistic Directors or Creative Teams? 

The RSC, the Royal Exchange Manchester, Plymouth, the Queens Theatre Hornchurch, and possibly the National Theatre, are moving away from the one artistic director model to creative directors and teams of leaders. Why, and what does this mean for artistic policy and leadership of theatres?

Three graduates of Birkbeck’s MFA Theatre Directing programme discuss this: Marie McCarthy, Artistic Director of Clapham Omnibus; Liz Stevenson, Artistic Director of the Theatre by the Lake Keswick; and Alex Thorpe, Creative Director of the Queens Theatre Hornchurch.  

Register here.


Dramaturgs’ Network at Birkbeck

Friday 3 November 2023, 18:00-21:00, 43 Gordon Square, room G10
We are pleased to announce that the Dramaturgs’ Network, the Society of Authors and the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre are bringing together 60 writers, dramaturgs and theatre-makers on Friday 3 November. This is a chance for 20 members from each organisation to meet, get to know each other, talk about their work and find new collaborators. For more information and to book click here. 


GRiT: Graduate Research in Theatre

Dani Ploeger: Techno-capitalism must die, but what’s next?
Art and Technology in the Rojava Revolution

Thursday 26th October, 4-5 pm on Teams.  Register here.

‘The Rojava Institute for Democratic Technologies’ is a practice-based research project based in Rojava, North-East Syria. Artists, electronics
engineers and members of local communities collaborate to imagine and proto-type new technologies for a digital culture beyond the capitalist
‘myth of progress’. Thus far, the possibilities of the Rojava Revolution for digital culture have hardly been explored. The current project constitutes an early day experiment that is aimed at initiating collaborations between artists, electronics engineers and local communities to develop new technologies that primarily take their cue from principles of local and regional mythology and ideology, rather than merely a rationalist strive for optimization. 

Dani Ploeger is an artist and cultural critic who explores situations of conflict and crisis on the fringes of the world of high-tech consumerism. His work spans a broad range of forms, from media art, installations and film to performance art, anarchist engineering and cultural theory. His artwork has been exhibited at venues and events worldwide, including ZKM Karlsruhe, Venice Architecture Biennale, London Film Festival and the Nairobi National Museum. His book Deserted Devices and Wasted Fences: Everyday technologies in extreme circumstances was published with Triarchy Press in 2021.

Dani is Professor of Performance and Technology at the University of Music and Theatre Munich. He is also a Research Fellow at The Royal
Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London), Fellow at V2_Lab for the unstable media in Rotterdam and an honorary researcher at the University of Rojava in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. His artwork is represented by Art Claims Impulse in Berlin.

Past events

Read about our past events at the links below.