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Name: Gemma Edwards

PhD: Drama and Performance

Thesis Title: Representing the rural: new rural imaginaries on the British stage.

Thesis Description: 

The rural as both theme and site of performance has been repeatedly marginalised in theatre scholarship; theatrical rural England largely remains a cultural construct allegorised by urban outsiders. My research addresses this critical imbalance by examining recent changes in the representation and utilisation of the rural - asking how the rural is conceived, performed and received - in three performance contexts: London stages, regional towns and rural communities.This interdisciplinary project will combine textual and performance analysis of plays with insights from cultural geography: the use of theories of space and place will nuance my readings of the intersecting and dynamic relationships between the ‘rural’ plays, the places in which they are performed and the audiences who inhabit these spaces. While the rural is of course a non-homogenous subset, requiring careful definition and nuance, this study proposes that attending to representations of the rural (or its underrepresentation) is vital: they are responsive to, and illuminating of, vital currents in political discourse.  By tracking the changing representations of the English rural in a post-millennial context, this project adopts a timely focus on the potential for theatre to both reinforce and potentially expand the imaginaries of the often disenfranchised communities of rural Britain.



Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Jo Robinson (School of English, UoN)

                                                     Prof James Moran (School of English, UoN)

                                                     Prof David Matless (School of Geography, UoN)



Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


Conference Papers:

  • 'Synge and Places of Modernity' at Performance and Revolution (Irish Society for Theatre Research), 28th - 29th of April, University of Nottingham


Conference Papers: 

  • 'Reading the Rural on the English Stage' at Midlands3Cities Research Festival, 24th of May, Birmingham
  • 'Touring Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem: Here and Now' at Orientations: A Conference of Narrative and Place, 30th of May, University of Nottingham
  • 'Reading Livestock on the English Stage' at the Animal Geographies Workshop, 4th of July, University of Nottingham
  • 'Muck, Cattle and Pigs: Iconographies of the Farm Animal on the English Stage' at the International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress (IFTR), 8th - 13th of July, Belgrade

Other Conference/Professional Activities: 

  • Lead applicant and organiser for Place and Placelessness: An Interdisciplinary PG Conference (CDF-funded) at The University of Nottingham, 16th of July
  • Co-lead of the Landscape, Space and Place Reading Group at The University of Nottingham (October 2017 - present)



University email address: Gemma Edwards


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