Associate Professor Gay McAuley

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

Honorary Associate Professor

Department of Performance Studies
John Woolley Building, A20

Phone: 02 9716 6686

Gay McAuley is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of 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 book, Space in Performance (University of Michigan Press, 1999) was awarded the Rob Jordan Prize by the Australasian Drama Studies Association. Between 2001 and 2005 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, 2006). She retired from teaching in 2002 but is still involved in supervising postgraduate research and editing the department's journal About Performance.

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

  • Creative Agency in the Rehearsal Process
    Study of rehearsal process in text-based theatre, using participant observation methods derived from ethnography and exploring the nature of creative agency in a collaborative work process.
  • 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.

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, 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). Oxon, 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, 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.

Conference activity

  • "Performance and the politics of place" Poetics of Australian Space Symposium, Sydney, 2005
  • "Remembering and forgetting: place and performance in the memory process" Australasian Drama Studies Association, Wagga Wagga, 2005.
  • "Site-specific performance: place, memory and the creative agency of the spectator" Sydney University Arts Association, public lecture, 2005
  • "Place and the performance of memory." Performance Studies international, Singapore, 2004

Other professional contributions

Convener, Special Interest Group on Documentation of Performance, Performance Studies international, Singapore, 2004

Editor, About Performance (refereed journal published by Department of Performance Studies)

Convener, Advanced Research Seminar, Place and Performance (site-based performance artists and academics from 9 universities)

Member, Rex Cramphorn Memorial Lecture Committee

Seminar Leader, Graduate Research Summer School, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, 2003