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School of English and Drama

Dr Catherine Silverstone, BA, MA (Waikato) DPhil (Sussex) FHEA


Reader in Theatre and Performance


I grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand and attended a local state secondary school. I studied for a BA in English with Philosophy and MA in English at the University of Waikato. I moved to the UK to undertake my doctoral research at the University of Sussex. After graduating, I was appointed as a lecturer in English and Drama at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge before joining Queen Mary in 2007 as a lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies.

Undergraduate Teaching

In 2019-20 I am teaching on:

  • DRA123 Power Plays
  • DRA329 Written Research Project



Research Interests:

  • Sexuality, especially in relation to queer performance practices;
  • Queer lives and afterlives in performance;
  • Early modern drama in performance on stage and screen, especially in relation to gender, sexual and racial politics and Shakespeare cultural politics;
  • Trauma studies and its relation to performance practice and criticism;
  • Death and performance.

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research is concerned with the cultural politics of contemporary performance. I’m particularly interested in what performance is asked to do (and for whom) and what’s at stake in the representations that it offers, especially for thinking about identity, community, and spectatorship. One of the key ways I’ve explored these concerns is through an investigation of early modern drama in performance on stage and screen; more recently I’ve considered other types of performance, including queer performance and filmmaking, and live art.

My monograph, Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance (2011, paperback 2014) explores relationships between performances of Shakespeare and various traumatic events and histories including apartheid, colonisation, homophobia, and war. I’m the editor of a special issue -- ‘On Affirmation’ -- for Performance Research with Fintan Walsh (2014); a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin to commemorate the 20th anniversary in 2014 of the death of the filmmaker, writer, painter, activist, and gardener, Derek Jarman; and Titus Andronicus (Q1 and F) for The Norton Shakespeare (2015). I’ve also published articles on theatrical reconstruction, cross-dressing, post-apartheid performance, Shakespeare in Aotearoa New Zealand, festival performance, queer club performance, and coming out films. I am co-editor with Sarah Annes Brown of Tragedy in Transition (2007). I serve as a member of the editorial board of Shakespeare Bulletin.

My current research builds on my contribution to the Jarman special issue to consider queer legacies.

I am a founder member of the Sexual Cultures Research Group in the School of English and Drama, which actively fosters and develops cross-disciplinary conversations about methodologies, cultures, texts and objects, and research outputs related to sexuality, sex, gender, identity, and both intimate and public cultures.


Selected Publications:

ed. Titus Andronicus, Q1 and F, The Norton Shakespeare, eds. Stephen Greenblatt. Vol. eds. Walter Cohen, Suzanne Gossett, Jean Howard, Katharine Eisaman Maus and Gordon McMullan, 3rd edn. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2015), pp. 491-554.

ed., Derek Jarman and ‘the Renaissance’, Spec. issue of Shakespeare Bulletin, 32.3 (2014),

‘Remembering Derek Jarman: Death, Legacy, and Friendship’, Derek Jarman and ‘the Renaissance’, Spec. issue of Shakespeare Bulletin, 32.3 (2014), 451-70, DOI: 10.1353/shb.2014.0045

‘Festival Showcasing and Cultural Regeneration: Aotearoa New Zealand, Shakespeare’s Globe and Ngākau Toa’s A Toroihi rāua ko Kāhira (Troilus and Cressida) in Te Reo Māori’, Shakespeare Beyond English: A Global Experiment, eds Susan Bennett and Christie Carson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 35-47.   

'Shakespeare, Cinema and Queer Adolescents: Unhappy Endings and Heartfelt Conclusions', Shakespeare (2013), 1-19: doi:10.1080/17450918.2013.807297

‘Duckie’s Gay Shame: Critiquing Pride and Selling Shame in Club Performance’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 22 (2012), 62-78 doi:10.1080/10486801.2011.645234

Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance (New York: Routledge, 2011)": revise the publication details to read: "(New York: Routledge, 2011; paperback 2014)

‘Fatal Attraction: Desire, Anatomy and Death in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore’, in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore: A Critical Guide, ed. L. Hopkins (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 77-93

with Sarah Annes Brown, eds, Tragedy in Transition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007)

‘Speaking Maori Shakespeare: The Maori Merchant of Venice and the Legacy of Colonisation’, in Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century, ed. M. T. Burnett and R. Wray (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 127-145

‘Shakespeare Live: Reproducing Shakespeare at the 'New' Globe Theatre’, Textual Practice, 19 (2005), 31-50 doi:10.1080/0950236042000329636

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


I am currently supervising a project on gender diversity and applied storytelling in early childhood education with Caoimhe McAvinchey.

I have supervised the following PhD projects to completion:

  • Ben Walters, ‘Queer fun, family and futures in Duckie’s Performance Projects, 2010-2016’ (2019), co-supervised with the performance collective Duckie)

  • Mojisola Adebayo, ‘Afriquia Theatre: Creating Black Queer Ubuntu Through Performance’ (2018), co-supervised with Caoimhe McAvinchey.
  • Caoimhe Mader McGuinness, ‘Antisocial Performance: Challenging Liberal Conceptions of the Theatrical Sphere in Contemporary London, 2009-2015’ (2017), co-supervised with Nicholas Ridout

  • Sarah Mullan, ‘Lesbian Performance in London 1992-2015: Identity, Representation and Queer Epistemologies’ (2017).

  • Catriona Fallow, ‘Past and Present Plays: New Work at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe' (2016).
  • Brian Lobel, ‘Playing the Cancer Card: Illness, Spectatorship and Performance’ (2012).

  • Cecilia Sosa, ‘Performance, Kinship and Archives: Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina’s 1976-1983 Dictatorship’ (2012) (co-supervised with Maria Delgado).

I welcome applications from prospective research students, especially those interested in working on queer performance practices; Shakespeare and early modern drama in contemporary performance; and trauma studies.