Professor Claire Cochrane


Professor of Theatre Studies

Theatre and Performance

Contact Details

tel: 01905 855452

Claire Cochrane's teaching and research interests range widely reflecting a strong commitment to the creative and social value to be found in all aspects of contemporary theatre and performance. As the former Head of Drama and Performance she initiated, and has continued to lead, the Work Placement module offered to all year three single honours students who are given the opportunity to explore working environments as varied as locally-based theatres and theatre companies, schools in all age sectors, and organisations serving the needs of people with disabilities.

Her research and writing on recent developments in Black British and British Asian theatre and audiences also extends into her teaching focused on cultural diversity. She teaches text-based drama with a particular interest in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but also brand new plays. For public performance modules she has directed plays such as Tennessee Williams Suddenly Last Summer and Timberlake Wertenbakers The Love of the Nightingale as well as Renaissance plays including Volpone , The Duchess of Malfi , Alls Well that Ends Well and Hamlet.

As a theatre historian primarily of twentieth and twenty- first century British theatre, she has written extensively on regional theatre including two books on the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. In 2011 she published Twentieth Century British Theatre Industry, Art and Empire which explored the social and economic aspects of theatre across the British Isles. She also writes regularly on Shakespeare in performance.

She welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD and MRes students on aspects of the contemporary British theatre industry, questions of diversity and radical approaches to the historiography of theatre practice through time.


  • BA, Exeter University
  • DipEd, Edinburgh University
  • MA and PhD, Birmingham University

Teaching & Research

Modules Taught

  • DRAM1201 Staging Plays: Reading, Research and Performance
  • DRAM2203 Plays and Playwrights: British Theatre in Times of Change
  • DRAM2208 The Actor and Poetic Text
  • DRAM3207 Staging Shakespeare Today
  • DRAM3208 New Voices in Contemporary British Theatre
  • DRAM3210 Work Placement
  • DRAM4012 Dissertation

Current Research Interests

As a former convenor of the IFTR Historiography Working Group ( 1999-2004) and of the TaPRA History and Historiography Working Group ( 2007-2009) which bring together both national and international theatre historians to discuss the diversity of their research in academic meetings all over the world, much of Claire Cochranes current work focuses on the professional practice of writing theatre history. With her colleague Dr Jo Robinson ( Nottingham University) she has recently published a co-edited collection of essays Theatre History and Historiography Ethics, Evidence and Truth ( Palgrave 2016) and together they are now collaborating on a commission from Bloomsbury to publish a Companion to Theatre History and Historiography which will include essays by historians working in different countries and on theatre in different time periods. Claire has also just become the Series Editor with Professor Bruce McConachie of Pittsburg University, USA, of a new Bloomsbury series of Cultural Histories of Theatre and Performance

Professional Bodies

  • Member of the Society for Theatre Research ( STR)
  • Member of the International Federation for Theatre Research ( IFTR)
  • Member of the Theatre and Performance Research Association ( TaPRA)
  • Member of the American Society for Theatre Research ( ASTR)
  • UW Representative ( Secretary 2007-13) for Standing Conference of University Drama Departments ( SCUDD)

Selected Publications

Shakespeare and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre: 1913-1929, The Society for Theatre Research, 1993

The Birmingham Rep: A City’s Theatre 1962-2002, Sir Barry Jackson Trust, 2003

Twentieth Century British Theatre Industry, Art and Empire, Cambridge University Press, 2011

Edited Collection

Claire Cochrane & Jo Robinson (eds) Theatre History and Historiography Ethics, Evidence and Truth, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

Contributions to books

‘Shakespeare  and the Re/Vision of Indian Heritage in the Postcolonial British Context’ in Shormishtha Panja and Babli Moitra Saraf ( eds) Performing Shakespeare in India Exploring Indianness, Literatures and Cultures, SAGE, 2016

‘Facing the Face of the Other: The Case of the Nia Centre’ in Claire Cochrane and Jo Robinson (eds) Theatre History and Historiography Ethics, Evidence and Truth, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

‘A City’s Toys: Theatre in Birmingham 1914-1918’ in Andrew Maunder (ed)  British Theatre and the Great War 1914-1919, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

‘Producing the Scene: The Evolution of the Director in British Theatre 1900-1950’ in Rebecca D’Monte (ed) British Theatre and Performance 1900-1950, Methuen Drama, 2015

‘Engaging the Audience: A Comparative Analysis of Developmental Strategies at Birmingham Rep and Leicester Haymarket Theatre since the 1990s’ in G.Ley and S.Dadswell (eds), Critical Essays on British South Asian Theatre, University of Exeter Press, 2012

‘Opening Up the Garden: A Comparison of Strategies for Developing Intercultural Access to Theatre in Birmingham and Nottingham’ in  Kate Dorney and Ros Merkin (eds) The Glory of the Garden: English Regional Theatre and the Arts Council 1984-2009, Cambridge Scholars Publishing,  2010

‘“A Local Habitation and a Name”: Developments in Black and Asian Theatre in Birmingham since the 1970s’ in Dimple Godiwala  (ed)  Alternatives Within the Mainstream: British Black and Asian Theatres, Cambridge Scholars Press.

‘Sans valeur, sans histoire. Le theatre amateur et l’historien-critique d’art’, trans. Marie-Madeleine Mervant-Roux, Anne Cuisset, Melissa von Drie in le theatre des amateurs un theatre de société(s), Actes du colloque international des 24,25 et 26 Septembre 2004, Le Triangle, Rennes, Théâtres en Bretagne, 2005, pp. 143-149

‘Amateur Theatre’ in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance, Oxford University Press, ed. Dennis Kennedy, 2003, Vol.1, pp. 50-53. 

Journal Articles

‘Theatre and Urban Space: The Case of Birmingham Rep’, New Theatre Quarterly, XVI, Part 2 (NTQ 62),  May 2000, pp.137-147

‘‘‘Playing the Community”: Reflections on Forced Upon Us and The Wedding Community Play Project’Irish Theatre Magazine, Vol 2, no.5, Spring 2000, pp.33-39 

‘“It stands for more than theatre”: Claire Cochrane talks to Paul Sutton about the work of C&T’, Studies in Theatre and Performance, Vol 20, no 3, 2000, pp.188-195

‘“The Pervasiveness of the Commonplace”: The Historian and Amateur Theatre’, in Theatre Research International, Vol 26, no 3, 2001, pp.  233-242

‘“The Contaminated Audience” : Researching Amateur Theatre in Wales before 1939’, New Theatre Quarterly, XIX, Part 2, ( NTQ 74) May 2003, pp.169-176

“Place-Performance Relationships within the English Urban Context: Coventry and the Belgrade Theatre”, Studies in Theatre and Performance, Vol 33, no.3 2013, pp.303-20

‘Birmingham Rep, Youth and Community and the Products and Possibilities of Precarity’, The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22 , 1, 2017, pp. 36-49

Current External Responsibilities

Trustee of the Sir Barry Jackson Trust and Chair of the grants subcommittee

Reviews Editor for Theatre Notebook ( Journal of the Society for Theatre Research)

External Examiner for BA Drama and Theatre Arts, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2014-present

External Examiner for Undergraduate Drama Programmes, Loughborough University, 2016-present.