School of English and Drama

Professor Bridget Escolme, PhD PGCE


Professor of Theatre and Performance



I research and teach Shakespeare and his contemporaries in performance, costume in the theatre, and the performance of emotion in historical and contemporary performance culture. I came to Queen Mary in 2006 from the University of Leeds, having studied for my doctorate and held my first academic post there, in the Workshop Theatre of the School of English. My interests in the performance and reception of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and in pedagogical practice, emerged from my early career as a Drama and English teacher in secondary and further education. I have worked as a director, a performer, a dramaturge and a theatre and education practitioner.


During my time at Queen Mary, I have taught and convened the following Undergraduate modules:

  • Performance in History (level 4)
  • Issues in Historical Performance; Reading Theatre; Performance Studies; Performing Shakespeare; Costume Dramas: the Past Performed; Group Practical Project (level 5)
  • Madness and Theatricality; Practice-based Research Project; Written Research Project (the Drama dissertation) (level 6).

I have taught and convened the modules Early Modern Drama in Performance and Historiography and Archives on the MA in Performance Studies and supervised a range of MA dissertation projects.

I am committed to the development of active learning through theatre and performance practice and run induction, training and support sessions throughout the academic year for Graduate Teaching Associates which explore pedagogical practice in the field of theatre and performance.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • DRA205: Performing Shakespeare
  • DRA234: Costume Dramas


Research Interests:

  • early modern drama in recent and historical performance
  • the history of emotional expression in the theatre
  • the performer/audience relationship in the theatre
  • fashion and costume history

Recent and On-Going Research:

My recent monograph Emotional Excess on the Shakespearean Stage: Passion’s Slaves (London: Bloomsbury/Arden Shakespeare, 2013) explores ‘excessive’ emotion in Shakespeare’s theatre and recent productions of the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It concerns moments in the theatre when extremes of emotion are rewarded or applauded and moments when they push at the limits of the socially acceptable and become embarrassing, shameful, unsettling or insane. I argue that the early modern theatre was a place for interrogating and debating these limits; I consider how actors and audiences deal with emotion in productions of early modern drama today and demonstrate how this drama might stimulate discussion of the ways in which we celebrate and control the ‘passions’ now.

Other recent publications have explored the ways in which staging convention and theatre practice produce and reproduce cultural constructions of history, gender and subjectivity in the performance of early modern drama. I am co-editor of the essay collection Shakespeare and the Making of Theatre (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013), with Stuart Hampton-Reeves, and contributed the chapter on Costume to this collection. Hampton-Reeves and I are also co-editors of the Palgrave series Shakespeare in Practice which seeks to explore early modern drama in recent theatrical production in conjunction with key concerns for the field of Performance Studies. My interests in theatre costume are further explored in - ‘Costume and Disguise’ in Farah Karim Cooper and Tiffany Stern eds., Shakespeare’s Theatre and the Effects of Theatrical Performance  (London: Arden Shakespeare,  2012). Emerging from this research over the next five years will be two new books: a shorter work on Shakespeare and Costume and a monograph on clothing and the politics of spectacle in early modern drama and its recent theatrical production.


  • Books
  • Books
  • Books
  • Books

Single-authored Books
- Emotional Excess on the Shakespearean Stage (London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2013).
- Antony and Cleopatra (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2006)
- Talking to the Audience: Shakespeare, Performance, Self (London: Routledge, 2005)

Articles and Essays
- Shakespeare and the Contemporary: psychology, culture and audience in Othello production’ in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare in Performance, ed. James C. Bulman (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2016).
- ‘Tragedy in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Theatre Production: Hamlet, Lear and the Politics of Intimacy’ in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Tragedy ed. Michael Neill and David Schalkwyk (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
- ‘The first season at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe:  Duchess of Malfi, The Knight of the Burning Pestle and The Malcontent, Shakespeare Quarterly 2015.
- ‘Ophelia Confined. Madness and Infantilization in some versions of Hamlet’ in Anna Halpern and J. Foster, eds,, Madness, Performance, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts, Palgrave, 2014.
- ‘Costume in Shakespeare’s Period’ in Bruce Smith and Katherine Rowe eds., The Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia: An International Digital Resource for Study, Teaching, and Research (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013) (online and book version)
- ‘Afterword’ to Susan Bennett and Christie Carson, Shakespeare Beyond English (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
-  ‘Shakespeare and the Site-Specific’, Shakespeare Bulletin special edition: ‘Rehearsing Shakespeare: Alternative Strategies in Process and Performance’ (Vol. 30 No. 4 Winter 2012) Johns Hopkins University Press.
- ‘Costume and Disguise’ in Farah Karim Cooper and Tiffany Stern eds., Shakespeare’s Theatre and the Effects of Theatrical Performance  (London: Arden Shakespeare,  2012).
- ‘Gendered Neurosis on Stage and Screen: Fiona Shaw’s Richard II’ in Jeremy Lopez, ed. Routledge New Critical Essays: Richard II (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2012)
- ‘Costume’ in Shakespeare and the Making of Theatre, ed. Bridget Escolme and Stuart-Hampton Reeves (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: 2011).
- ‘Being Good: Actors’ Testimonies as Archive and the Cultural Construction of Success in Performance’, Shakespeare Bulletin, pp. 77-91,Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2010.
- “Shakespeare and Our Contemporaries”, in Sarah Werner, ed., New Directions in Shakespeare and Performance Studies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
- ‘Mark Rylance and Shakespeare’s Globe’ in Directors’ Shakespeare, ed. John Russell Brown (London: Routledge, 2008)
- ‘Living Monuments: Shakespeare’s Rome on the Contemporary Stage’, Shakespeare Survey vol 60, October 2007, Cambridge University Press.
- ‘Making Things Difficult: Anne Bogart and W. B. Worthen’ in Shakespeare, Language and the Stage: The Fifth Wall eds. Lynette Hunter and Peter Lichtenfels (London: Arden Shakespeare 2005)
- ‘Authority, Empowerment and Fairy Tales: Theatre for Young People’, eds. Nicholas Ridout and Joe Kelleher in Contemporary Theatres in Europe (London: Routledge, 2005)
- ‘ “The Greatest Dramatist…”: The RSC Complete Works Season’ Contemporary Theatre Review Vol. 15, no.4, 2005.

Edited Collection
- Shakespeare and the Making of Theatre, ed. Bridget Escolme and Stuart Hampton-Reeves (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012)

Series Editor
- Shakespeare in Practice (Palgrave) with Stuart Hampton-Reeves.
- Shakespeare in the Theatre (Bloomsbury, Arden Shakespeare) with Peter Holland and Farah Karim Cooper.

Play edition
- Introduction and co-editor: Making a Difference: The Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah, collection of three plays commissioned by The Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah (Leeds: Alumnus 2004).

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

I have recently supervised the following successful PhD project:

  • Penelope Woods, ‘Globe Audiences: Spectatorship and Reconstruction at Shakespeare’s Globe’ (2011)
  • Jan Wozniak, ‘Standing Up To Shakespeare: The Politics of Performing Shakespeare for Young People’ (2014)

Public Engagement

In addition to being a regular contributor to the Shakespeare’s Globe ‘Setting the Scene’ series of public lectures, I have been a dramaturgical advisor and script editor for Richard III  directed by Roxana Silbert at the Royal Shakespeare company (2012) and have contributed to programme essays for this and the RSC’s most recent Measure for Measure (2011). I will continue to contribute to the Shakespeare Forum series of events taking place across Brazil by People’s Palace Projects; as part of this programme, whose participants are artists and young people from a wide range of Brazilian cultural organizations, in 2011 I ran workshops with the University of Rio de Janeiro and the Universidade das  Quebradas, (Programa Avançado de Cultura Contemporânea) a theatre training programme for those who have not had access to conventional training routes, now a celebrated and pretigious programme (Rio de Janeiro), and in 2012 ran a series of workshops with young people and theatre students at the Teatro Vila Velha, Salvador, Bahia.


Practice-based Research
- Coriolanus, an exploration of the spatial politics of the play in promenade production, with Flaneur Productions, California Building Gallery, Minneapolis, at the Rochester Arts Center, Minnesota and at Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis - 2006-7.
- Romeo and Juliet Schools Workshops project, exploring the relationship between performer and audience in the play in production for young audiences - with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2004.
- Measure for Measure: A Performance Research Project, exploring structures of theatrical status in the play, its source texts and its adaptations, Leeds Met Studio Theatre and International Federation of Theatre Research, Amsterdam, 2002.
- Hamlet: A Performance Research Project, an exploration of repetition, reiteration and performance history, Leeds Met Studio Theatre, 2000.