Dr Chris Megson

Research interests

My research investigates theatre and politics within a broadly philosophical framework, focusing on post-war and contemporary British theatre, new playwriting, and global theatres of the real. My publications include Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present (co-edited with Alison Forsyth; Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) which was the first scholarly book to investigate the upsurge of documentary, verbatim and tribunal theatre around the world over the past two decades. 

My research on post-war British theatre has focused on the 1960s and 70s: theatre censorship, the legacy of 1968, theatrical responses to the Cold War, and the theatre of Howard Barker, Howard Brenton, Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker, amongst others. My book Decades of Modern British Playwriting - the 1970s (Methuen Drama, 2012) offers detailed scrutiny of the theatre of the 1970s and fresh critical perspectives.

In recent publications, I have explored the plays of Mike Bartlett, Rob Drummond, Anders Lustgarten, Bryony Lavery, Abi Morgan, Lucy Prebble and others in relation to debates on religion, (post)secularism, and contemporary politics. This research presents the idea of a 'metaphysical turn' in recent theatre that places the issue of belief at the centre of theatrical scrutiny. This project is the main focus of my current research activity and I've presented on this topic at conferences in Hamburg, Paris and Abu Dhabi. 

I am the Director of the Centre for Contemporary British Theatre at Royal Holloway. Established in autumn 2017, the Centre organises a range of events, including an annual externally-advertised seminar series, an annual distinguished lecture, and various research, dissemination, advisory and training activities.

I welcome enquiries from research students. Over the past few years, I've supervised 13 PhD students to timely and successful completion of their projects, and I'm an experienced PhD examiner nationally and internationally. I was awarded Royal Holloway's inaugural Doctoral Supervisor of the Year prize and was shortlisted for the Times Higher 'Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year' award in 2018.


Teaching and Learning

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I have more than twenty years' experience of teaching, learning and assessment in higher education, as well as of course validation, programme design, periodic review, and external examining (currently, I am external examiner at the Universities of Leeds and Reading). My research feeds directly into the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula at Royal Holloway - my recent courses include 'Staging the Real' (on documentary and verbatim theatre) and the research seminar for finalists 'Contemporary British Theatre: Politics and Philosophy'. I also work with the publishers Bloomsbury Methuen Drama to expand the range of plays available to students as Series Editor of Student Editions and Student Guides. I have guest-lectured in schools, run workshops for professional actors in industry hubs such as the Northern Actors' Centre, and led degree programmes and residential courses for mature and distance learning students at Rose Bruford College (where I worked for four years as Course Leader in Theatre Studies). Internationally, I have taught theatre practitioners and teachers in Spain, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.


Public engagement & professional activity

I'm active in sharing my research with public audiences and developing links with theatre organisations. In recent years, I've chaired events and presented my research at the National Theatre, the V&A, the Barbican, the LSE Literary Festival, the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the Pleasance Theatre, the Chelsea Theatre, the Young Vic, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the Royal College of Art, and on the BBC World Service. As a member of the British Theatre Consortium, I was Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded 'Theatre Spectatorship and Value Attribution' project (2013-14), which - under the leadership of Professor Janelle Reinelt - produced a major report (Critical Mass) on theatre spectatorship and cultural value. 

I recently completed three years' service on the AHRC Peer Review College and I also peer review for Research Councils in Australia, Belgium, and Canada. 

At Royal Holloway, I am Director of Postgraduate Research Education in the School of Performing and Digital Arts at Royal Holloway.

I tweet in a personal capacity @chris_megson

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