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School of English and Drama

Dr Michael Shane Boyle, BA (Duke), PhD (UC Berkeley), FHEA

Michael Shane

Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies



I began working in the Drama Department in 2014, after completing my PhD in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley and my BA in English at Duke University. Before moving to London, I held postdoctoral appointments at Stanford University and Harvard University.

My research focuses on the political economy of performance from a Marxist and communist perspective. I am particularly interested in postdramatic theatre, live art and activist performance, mostly in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

I support the research of colleagues in various ways. Currently I am on the editorial board of Theatre Survey and regularly peer review manuscripts for journals and presses including Verso, Palgrave Macmillan, Theater Journal, Contemporary Theatre Review, Lateral, among others.

Recently I co-convened CAPITAL FORMS, a postgraduate training programme in the Economic Humanities, funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership.

I'm on Twitter @brechtfast.

Undergraduate Teaching

My teaching pays special attention to the institutional and disciplinary conditions that make performance possible. The seminars I run foreground issues of racialisation and economic exploitation as they relate to theatre and art, with a strong emphasis on applying Marxist and queer of colour critical perspectives. I occasionally teach performance practice, and when I do I focus on postdramatic approaches and experimenting with technology.

Each year I tend to convene modules including:

  • DRA120: Interventions
  • DRA263: Race and Racism in Performance
  • DRA273: Culture, Power and Performance
  • DRA7713: Disciplines of Live Art



Postgraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • DRA7103: Research Design
  • DRA7713: Disciplines of Live Art


Research Interests:

  • Marxism and Political Economy
  • German Performance History
  • Activist Performance
  • Postdramatic Theatre
  • Technology

Recent and On-Going Research

Much of my research is motivated by a practical interest in what Marxist critical theory can offer performance, but also what performance can offer political movements. As such, my writing focuses on the political economy of theatre, the use of performance in social movements, and theatre historiography—mostly in Germany, the United States, and United Kingdom.

I am currently finishing a book called The Arts of Logistics, which examines how artists use technologies that undergird the supply chains of global capitalism to make art–especially shipping containers, oil barrels, drones, and GPS. My first article from this project, “Container Aesthetics,” was published in Theatre Journal. I have organised several research events related to this book, including the 2016 conference, “The Arts of Logistics” (co-organised with Aylwyn Walsh).

Most recently, my published articles include a series in which I try to sketch out a Marxist analysis of theatre, drawing on current debates in value-form theory.

In 2019, I co-edited the collection Postdramatic Theatre and Form (Bloomsbury), which evaluates ongoing debates in contemporary experimental performance by developing a theory of theatrical form. On the topic of postdramatic theatre, I have published several reviews, interviews, and articles, and from 2013-2015, I co-convened the Postdramatic Theatre working group for the American Society for Theatre Research.

In addition to these projects, I am (slowly) writing another book tentatively titled ‘Nazi Punchers: Antifascist Performance in Germany.’ This monograph, based on my PhD research funded by the Fulbright and the Social Sciences Research Council, uses “theatricality” as a framework for examining the varied ways that social movements have responded to the legacy and resurgence of Nazism and fascism in Germany. My earlier research focused on the place of performance in contemporary social movements.

I am a founding member of the Centre on Labour and Global Production at Queen Mary University of London.

In addition to my academic research in performance, I have translated political theory and written on politics and pop culture for venues like Commune, The New Inquiry, Viewpoint Magazine, Reclamations, and Analyse und Kritik, among others.



  • with Matt Cornish and Brandon Woolf, eds, Postdramatic Theatre and Form (London: Bloomsbury Methuen, 2019).
  • The Arts of Logistics (forthcoming).

Selected Articles in Journals

Selected Chapters in Books

  • “In Service to Capital: Theater and Marxist Cultural Theory,” in After Marx, ed. by Colleen Lye and Chris Nealon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • “Theatrical Proletarians,” in Understanding Marx, Understanding Modernism, ed. by Mark Steven (London: Bloomsbury).
  • With Matt Cornish and Brandon Woolf “Form and Postdramatic Theatre,” in Postdramatic Theatre and Form, ed. by Michael Shane Boyle, Matt Cornish and Brandon Woolf (London: Bloomsbury Methuen).
  • “Absent Futures: The Ironic Manifesto in an Age of Austerity,” in Manifesto Now! Instructions for Philosophy, Performance, Politics, ed. by Laura Cull and Will Daddario (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press and Intellect Books).
  • “Play with Authority! Radical Performance and Performative Irony,” in Theorizing Cultural Activism: Practices, Dilemmas and Potentialities, ed. by Begüm Özden Firat and Aylin Kamil (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press).

Selected Features and Interviews

Translations (from German to English)

See my Queen Mary Research Publications Profile.

Talks, Keynotes, and Conference Contributions (selected)

Selected Invited Talks

  • “In Service to Capital: Theatre and Marxist Cultural Theory,” for “After Post-Marxism” at UC Berkeley.
  • With Brandon Woolf, “Form and Postdramatic Theatre,” for “Postdramatic Theatre International” at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin.
  • “Theatrical Proletarians,” for Quorum at Queen Mary University of London.
  • “Street Scenes and Blockade Logistics,” for the Sadler Seminar Series at Leeds University.
  • “Investing in Insurrection: The Arts and Education Infrastructure of West Berlin’s Red Decade,” for “1968/2018: Cities on the Edge Series” at Princeton University.
  • “Drama Curriculum and Race in UK Higher Education,” for “Shakespeare and Race” at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.
  • “Customer Relations: Historicising the Theatre Riot,” for “Research (with) Difficulties” at Birkbeck University, London.
  • “Brechtian Innovation and Capitalist Alienation,” for “(Un)doing. (Un)making” at the Hardwick Gallery.
  • “Infrastructural Aesthetics: From Kill Chains to Supply Chains,” for the Postgraduate Research Series in Drama, University of Roehampton, London.
  • “Logistics and Participation,” for “Together in Solitude” at York St. John’s University.
  • “The Capital-Labour Accord of Mitbestimmungstheater,” for London Theatre Seminar.
  • “The Container Aesthetics of Shunt’s The Boy Who Climbed Out of His Face,” for Quorum, Queen Mary University of London.

Recent Conferences and Research Events Organized

  • With Performance and Political Economy, “Performance and Political Economy Study Day,” Birkbeck University, London.
  • With Matt Cornish, J de Leon, Brandon Woolf, “per/FORM/ance: Interdisciplinary Conversations on Form and Theater Today,” NYU Skirball Center, New York.
  • With Amy De’Ath, “Anti-Social Reproduction,” The Common House, London.
  • With Aylwyn Walsh, “The Arts of Logistics,” Queen Mary University of London.
  • 2013-15. Co-Convenor of the Debating Postdramatic Theatre Working Session, American Society for Theater Reseaarch.



I would welcome enquiries from prospective doctoral students, especially those interested in: Marxism and performance, the economics of theatre, postdramatic theatre, live art, German performance history, activist and socially-engaged performance.

I am supervising PhD projects in topics including: postdramatic theatre, German performance history, racialisation and theatre institutions, post-Soviet live art, Marxist theories of law and performance, socially engaged art.

Public Engagement

I am interested and active in supporting groups and struggles committed to anti-racist, anti-fascist and worker-led projects.

Currently I am chair of the Board of Trustees for Limehouse Townhall Consortium Trust, which oversees the operations for Limehouse Town Hall. Housed in a grade II listed building, Limehouse Town Hall is a hub for political and cultural activities in Tower Hamlets. As one of the last remaining autonomous cultural spaces in London, the town hall supports and houses a range of artists and activists who make significant contributions to the cultural life and well being of the east end of London and beyond.


My research in theatre is closely informed by my various political commitments, many of which have found outlets in performance itself. In the past I have worked as part of performance groups like the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization and the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. In addition, I have experience as a director, dramaturge, and playwright.

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