Honorary Associate Professor Gay McAuley

BA (Bristol, 1962)
PhD (Bristol, 1969)

Department of Performance Studies
John Woolley Building, A20

Phone: 02 9716 6686

Biographical details

Gay McAuley is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. She has a BA in Drama, French and German from the University of Bristol, and a Ph.D in French, also from the University of Bristol. She taught in the French Department at Macquarie University (1968-1972) and then in the University of Sydney, before establishing Performance Studies as an interdisciplinary centre at the University of Sydney in 1989.

Throughout the 70s and 80s she worked to establish modes of 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 books, Space in Performance, University of Michigan Press, 1999 and Not Magic But Work, University of Manchester Press, 2012, were both awarded the Rob Jordan Prize by the Australasian Drama Studies Association (2000 and 2014). After her retirement from teaching in 2002, she convened an interdisciplinary research group on Place and Performance, and edited the collective volume emerging from the group’s work (Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place, Peter Lang, 2006) as well as editing the department's journal About Performance from 2006 to 2010.

Research areas

  • Space and place in the performance process
  • Participant observation of rehearsal process
  • Semiotics of performance
  • Translation for the stage
  • Documentation of performance
  • Place, performance and collective memory

Current projects

  • Place and the Performance of Memory
    Monograph based on case studies of places where traumatic events have occurred, exploring the role of place in holding memory, and the performative practices involved in remembering and forgetting.
  • Intercultural Performance in 19th century World Fairs
    Translation of key works dealing with Ottoman architecture and popular costume as part of collaborative project with colleagues in Art History and Anthropology.

Awards and honours

  • Rob Jordan Prize, 2014 (Awarded by Australasian Drama Studies Association for the book by a member deemed to have made the most significant contribution to drama, theatre or performance studies in the two years preceding the award)
  • Rob Jordan Prize, 2000

Selected publications - Books

  • Not Magic but Work: An Ethnographic Account of a Rehearsal Process. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2012.
  • Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place, Brussels, Peter Lang, 2006.
  • Space in Performance: Making Meaning in the Theatre, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Selected publications - Articles and Book Chapters

  • McAuley, G. (2014). Performing Sydney: Inhabiting the edge, in Nicolas Whybrow (ed), Performing Cities, London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.141-158.
  • McAuley, G. (2014). Editing: In the rehearsal room, in Maria M. Delgado and Joanne Tompkins (eds) "The Politics, Processes and Practices of Editing," Contemporary Theatre Review, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp.35-8.
  • McAuley, N. (2013). What is Sydney About Sydney Theatre? Performance Space and the Creation of a "Matrix of Sensibility". In Erika Fischer-Lichte, Benjamin Wihstutz (Eds.), Performance and the Politics of Space: Theatre and Topology, (pp. 81-99). Oxford, UK: Routledge.
  • McAuley, N. (2013). Place, Time and Performance in the Memory Process. Australian Studies, 5, 1-16.
  • McAuley, N. (2011). The Sydney Trinity: Performance Space and the Creation of a 'Matrix of Sensibility'. Australasian Drama Studies, 58, 71-87.
  • McAuley, G. (2011).The National Apology Three Years Later, Australian Studies, Vol. 3. (Journal of British Australian Studies Association).
  • McAuley, N. (2010). Gebundelte Energie. Sydneys Theatreraume und die Entstehung einer ,Empfndungsmatrix' [Palpable energy: performance space and the creation of a 'matrix of sensibility']. In Fischer-Lichte, Erika; Wihstutz, Benjamin (Eds.), Politik des Raumes: Theater und Topologie, (pp. 93-108). Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.
  • McAuley, N. (2010). Interdisciplinary field or emerging discipline?: Performance studies at the University of Sydney. In J McKenzie, H Roms, CJW-L Wee (Eds.), Contesting performance: global sites of research, (pp. 37-50). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • McAuley, N. (2009). Unsettled country: coming to terms with the past. About Performance, 9, 45-65.
  • Lohr, H., McAuley, N. (2008). A duet between performer and photographer. About Performance, 8(Still/Moving: Photography and Live Performance), 47-65.
  • "Photography and live performance: Introduction", About Performance, 8, 7-13, 2008.
  • “Not magic but work: rehearsal and the production of meaning”, Theatre Research International (Special Issue on Genetics of Performance, edited by Josette Féral), Vol 33, No 3, September 2008.
  • “State of the Art: Performance Studies”, SemiotiX, No. 10, November 2007 Find a copy of this article here
  • “Remembering and Forgetting: Place and Performance in the Memory Process”, in Gay McAuley (Ed), Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place, Brussels/Berlin/New York, Peter Lang, 2006, pp.149-176.
  • "Place in the performance experience", Modern Drama, XLVI (4), 2003: 598-613.
  • "Performance Studies: definitions, methodologies, future directions", Australasian Drama Studies, 39, 2001: 5-19.
  • "Towards an ethnography of rehearsal", New Theatre Quarterly, 53, 1998:75-85.
  • "Performance analysis: theory and practice", About Performance, 4, 1998: 1-12.
  • "The video documentation of theatrical performance for archival purposes" New Theatre Quarterly, 38, 1994:183-94.

Recent conference activity

  • "Haunting places: on not finding closure." Keynote paper delivered at annual conference of Irish Theatrical Diaspora Project, University of Ulster, Derry/Londonderry, June 2012.
    Versions of this paper were also delivered at research seminars at Aberystwyth University in October 2012 and the University of Cologne, Germany in December 2012.
  • "Observation et analyse du processus de création théâtrale: l’apport de l’ethnographie." Keynote address to conference on Processus de Création et Archives du Spectacle Vivant, Université de Rennes, France. October 2014.
    Revised version of this lecture also given at seminar of Groupe de Recherche "Scènes performatives", Université de Paris III. November 2014.

Other professional contributions

  • Translation and notes for Jean-Marie Borzeix, One Day in France: Tragedy and Betrayal in an Occupied Village, London, I.B.Tauris, 2016, 165pp