Dr. Adam Alston

Supervised by

  • Sophie Nield First/primary/lead supervisor


Personal profile

I am now a Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Surrey, having completed my AHRC funded PhD in July 2013, titled ‘Productive Participants: Aesthetics and Politics in Immersive Theatre’ (passing the viva in November 2013). This research explores the interrelationships between aesthetics and politics in immersive theatre, paying particular regard to audience participation. My research interests are broad and span affect studies, risk research, neoliberalism, the experience economy and the philosophy of Jacques Rancière. I am particularly interested in what aesthetic and political characteristics immersive theatre might share with both neoliberalism and the experience economy, with special emphasis on how such sharing might both fruitfully inform an approach to performance analysis and impact on an evaluation of these aesthetic and political characteristics.


My published (and forthcoming) work tends to focus on immersive theatre, or what I regard as its derivatives, such as one-on-one theatre. This has involved studies of: the idealisation of experience in immersive theatre and the experience economy; value as it appears in immersive theatre participation and the neoliberal ethos; the positioning of audiences as unpaid marketers in corporate performance; and the political production of affect and risk among participating audiences. I have also published a short piece on post-2010 Arts Council England funding and philanthrocapitalism (co-authored with Rebecca Daker) and have work forthcoming which explores, critiques and adopts a cognitive approach to the analysis of audience participation in  immersive theatre, with particular regard to affect production and risk perception. I am particularly interested in work by Punchdrunk, Shunt, Theatre Delicatessen, Half Cut, Lundahl & Seitl, Ray Lee, Ontroerend Goed, Look Left Look Right and dreamthinkspeak.


Between 2011 and 2013 I co-edited the postgraduate, peer reviewed journal Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts. I have been a Postgraduate Representative for TaPRA since 2011 and will remain so until early 2014. Since their inception in 2008, I have devised and composed with the science-led theatre company, Curious Directive and remain a Creative Associate of the company. 


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