Gemma Edwards

Gemma Edwards


  • Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Drama

Personal profile


I'm a Leverhulme ECR Fellow (2022 - 2025) and my project is called 'This is England: Staging Race, Class, and the English Nation from 1945 - Present'. I joined the Department in June 2021 as postdoctoral researcher on the Civic Theatres: A Place for Towns research project (AHRC), where I worked with Professor Jenny Hughes.

I also teach on the undergraduate programme here at Manchester. I'm currently convening my new module Performing England (Year 3), and have previously taught Theatre and Performance Texts 1 (Year 1), Social Acts (Year 2), Post-Thatcher British Theatre: New Writing Since 1992 (Year 2), and Gender and Sexuality on the Twentieth Century Stage (Year 3).

Before this, I taught theatre and performance in the School of English at the University of Nottingham which is where I completed my PhD (2021), as well as my MA (2017) and BA (2016) degrees.

I'm also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2021) and I'm currently co-convening the Performance Identity and Community Working Group at the Theatre and Performance Research Association with ally Walsh (University of Leeds).

Research interests

My research explores the relationships between place, politics, and performance. I'm particularly interested in non-metropolitan contexts and economies of production, as well as the dramatic representation of regional and rural communities and lives. Combining methodologies from cultural geography and political philosophy, my analysis of plays and performances is thoroughly interdisciplinary and is grounded by an awareness of the politics of place. My research interests cycle between three distinct but interlinked areas: theatrical engagements with the English rural, English towns, and the English nation more broadly. Explorations of the mechanisms of race and class in these areas highlight communities who are persistently configured as ‘left behind’ in metropolitan structures of theatre production and political governance. 

These three areas are reflected in my recent and forthcoming publications. My interest in ruralism is captured in my first monograph Representing the Rural: Performance and Rurality in the Twenty-first Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) and in several articles. The move from English landscapes to townscapes is reflected in my chapter in our co-authored book Theatre in Towns (Routledge Focus, 2022), a key output of the Civic Theatres: A Place for Towns project (AHRC). The politics of English nationhood forms the focus of my next book project which will examine the staging of England from 1945 to the present. Combining anti-colonial and devolutionary methodologies, this project examines the changing relationships between race, class, and the English nation on a range of stages across England's whole theatre ecology, including in regional and rural sites. You can read more about this project here. There are two short-term outcomes which begin to lay the ground for this work: an article in the Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, 'This is England 2021: Staging England and Englishness in Contemporay Drama' and the Methuen Student Edition to Roy Williams's Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (Methuen Drama, 2022). 


BA, MA, PhD (University of Nottingham)

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

I was awarded Fellowship status from the Higher Education Academy in 2021 (FHEA) and I co-convene the Performance Identity and Community Group at TaPRA with ally Walsh (University of Leeds). I am also an active member of the following societies:

International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR)

Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)

Contemporary Drama in English (CDE)

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Nottingham

Oct 2017Apr 2021

Award Date: 9 Apr 2021

Master of Arts, English Studies, University of Nottingham

Oct 2016Oct 2017

Award Date: 1 Oct 2017

Bachelor of Arts, English Studies, University of Nottingham

Sept 2013Jun 2016

Award Date: 1 Jul 2016


  • contemporary theatre and performance
  • politics
  • place and identity
  • regional performance


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