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

Department of Theatre and Performance Studies

The making, presentation and viewing of theatre and performance 
From theatre, dance and other forms of live art to political rallies, sacred rituals and pop stars, we explore all aspects of performance to understand culture, history and ourselves.

As one of the first tertiary performance studies departments in the world, we regularly attract international academic visitors who come to observe our unique program. Our staff are widely recognised researchers in the fields of theatre, dramaturgy, dance, community theatre, music and sport.

Some of our graduates move into professional theatre, dance, production management, drama teaching or arts administration, while others use insights from this discipline and the research skills they have acquired to inform their careers in law, medicine, public administration, social justice and foreign affairs. Many of our students undertake postgraduate study and teach at tertiary level.

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.  


Research in Theatre and Performance Studies engages with a broad range of aesthetic, social and everyday performances, from practices that we might readily recognise as theatre, dance or live art through to the performative dimensions of law, politics, sport and other kinds of activity. 

Our research

We are concerned in the broadest possible way with the phenomenon of performance and the processes involved in its production and reception. Some of 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

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
  • Nien Yuan Cheng: Telling/Transgressing 'The Singapore Story': Oral History in Singapore as Performance and Performative
  • James Dalton: A Doctor Prepares: An Ethnographic Account of Medical Students Learning to Perform as Junior Doctors
  • Aine De Paor: Staging Ireland Down Under
  • Peta Downes: Artist or Creative Entrepreneur? The Impact of Creative Industries on Australian Theatre Practice
  • Katrina Foster: Firing the Can(n)on
  • Rowan Greaves: White Faces and Nervous Laughter: Subversive Comedy in Australian Performance
  • Chung Chuen Gabriel Lee: Theatre Directing as Action Research: Testing the Action Research Model
  • Julie Lynch: Costume's Mirror up to Nature
  • Jason Marchant: The existence of dancing
  • Kerrie Roberts: Sex and Power: Reading Gertrude
  • Lisa Schouw: The Performance of Ageing - Somewhere Between Hello and Goodbye
  • Garry Seabrook: The Spectator-Actor Relation in Secondary School EAL Education
  • Lillian Shaddick: Samba Showgirls: Cross cultural practice in Australian popular dance entertainment
  • Matthew Tyne: If You Promise Not to Tell: Creating and analysing a theatre performance based on the experiences of gay Sri Lankan men
  • Harry Werlemann-Godfrey: An Ethnography of the Historically Informed Performance Movement in Sydney 2016-17
  • Ting Zheng: Transformational Role of the Dramaturgy between Drama Production Teams, Critics and Audiences in the Transitional Society of China

The Rex Cramphorn Studio is used by professional artists who work with our staff and students to facilitate research in performance studies. Stay up to date about our projects and read the Rex Cramphorn Artist-in-Residence blog.

Applications to the Rex Cramphorn Studio artist-in-residence program have closed for 2019. Each year we call for Expressions of Interest in October, for residency opportunities in the following year. We encourage applications for projects from diverse genres and forms, and at any stage in their development. Artist residencies are offered with the condition that artists be open to engage with students and academics; this may include student observation, class participation or invitations to showings. If you have any questions please contact the Program Coordinator.

We have two studio facilities available to outside practitioners. Both are located in the Department, Level 1 of the John Woolley Building, A20, and are accessed from Manning Rd.

Rex Cramphorn Studio

The Rex Cramphorn Studio was named to commemorate a brilliant man of the theatre who had a long and important involvement with the Department.

The Studio is an open rectangular space which can be used for rehearsal, workshops or performance in various flexible formats.

  • Length: 12.7m
  • Width: 8.5m
  • Height: 4m

In addition to the main sprung floor, there is a small foyer space with kitchenette, toilets and space for some seats. Above the entrance is a mezzanine with toilets, changing rooms and showers. The Studio is equipped with a semi flexible lighting grid and some rated rigging positions, a small theatre lighting package and control, an audio control desk and a pa system.

The AV Studio 

The Audio-Visual Studio is a flat-floor seminar room equipped with audio and visual equipment, as well as blackout shutters. It is suitable for workshops, seminars and video screenings.

  • Length: 8m
  • Width: 5.5m
  • Height: 4m

Journal: About Performance

Our annual department journal, About Performance, provides a 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. 

Distributed by Sydney University Press through its online e-store, digital or print copies can be puchased here.

Editor: Ian Maxwell


Our people


Upcoming events

Visit the School's events calendar  to see our upcoming events and seminars.

Past events

27 February | Book launch
Robyn Dalton and Laura Ginters were joined by 270 alumni and friends to celebrate the launch of their new book: The Ripples before the New Wave: Drama at the University of Sydney 1957-63. Mr Leo Schofield AM led through the programme featuring special guests and performances.

Banner image: Artists in residence with the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, in the Rex Cramphorn Studio. Theatre Kantanka, Obscene Madame D, 2018. Photo: Heidrun Löhr.

Department Chair

Associate Professor Ian Maxwell

School of Literature, Art and Media

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