Graham Saunders


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am interested in supervising postgraduate research in any area of British theatre from 1940 to the present and in particular the work of dramatists. Other interests include the work of the Arts Council of Great Britain 1945-1994 and related issues of funding; British alternative / 'fringe' theatre and performance from 1968-1994; Shakespeare and contemporary appropriation of his work; the theatre, television and wireless drama of Samuel Beckett.

I have supervised the following PhD theses:

Kate Katafiasz, 'An investigation into Dramatic Practice in the work of Edward Bond'. Part-time PhD student. Completed 2011.
Tony Coult. 'The Arts Council and Theatre in Education 1945-1994.' PhD student attached to the AHRC funded project 'Giving Voice to the Nation'. Completed 2015

I am currently co-supervising the following postgraduates:

Gary Cassidy. 'The Rehearsal Processes of Playwright Anthony Neilson and the Role of the Actor Within It.' AHRC funded studentship.
Matthew McFrederick. 'A Historiography of Productions of Samuel Beckett’s Drama in London'. AHRC funded PhD student attached to the project Beckett in Performance.
Diem Metin. 'Modern Jacobean Tragedy in Sarah Kane’s Plays.'


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Personal profile

Research interests

As a ‘dabbler’ my research is focused on a number of areas. Currently, together with colleagues at the Universities of Leeds, Reading and Goldsmith’s College, London in two AHRC research bids. One of these plans to look at the legacies associated with Harold Pinter’s work; the other also look at legacies, this time focused around the British ‘alternative’ / fringe theatre between 1968-1994, and how current performance practice might beneficially make use of these legacies.

I am currently under commission for Palgrave’s Adaptation and Performance series, (edited by Vicky Angelaki, University of Birmingham and Kara Reilly, Exeter University) to write a monograph entitled, Elizabethan and Jacobean Re-appropriation in Contemporary British Drama: Upstart Crows. My next written project will be to complete an article on a little known short play/sketch by the dramatist Joe Orton called ‘Until She Screams’ and its place within the battle against theatre censorship in Britain during the late 1960s.

Since 2009 I was involved in two major AHRC funded projects:

  • 2009 -2014. Principal Investigator on ‘Giving Voice to the Nation’: the Arts Council of Great Britain & the Development of Theatre & Performance in Britain 1945-1995. This five-year project was awarded £763,000 & involved work on the archive of the Arts Council of Great Britain, housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Theatre Collection. The project employed two post-doctoral researchers (based at the V&A) & two PhD students (who received their doctoral awards in 2015). Co-Investigators were Professor John Bull (University of Reading) & Dr Kate Dorney (V&A (now at Manchester University)).
  • 2012-2015. Co-investigator on Beckett in Performance: Approaches to Directing the Plays of Samuel Beckett in the United Kingdom and Ireland (1955 - 2010) was a cross-institutional project (Principal Investigator- Professor Anna McMullan, University of Reading & other Co-Investigator Professor David Pattie at the University of Chester), that made extensive use of existing, but underexploited archives to look at the impact of Beckett’s theatre practice in the UK.


I joined the department in January 2016 after teaching at the University of Reading since 2005 in the department of Film, Theatre and Television. I have also taught at the universities of Coventry, Lancaster and the University of the West of England (UWE).  I also studied at the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate (joint honours English & Drama,1991-4) as well as completing my PhD here in 1997.

I have been a contributor to the section ‘Drama since 1950’ for The Year’s Work in English Studies. Since 2012 I have been an advisory board member for the journals Contemporary Theatre Review and Studies in Theatre & Performance.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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