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Dr Daniel Oliver, BA (Nottingham Trent), MA, PhD (Queen Mary)

Teaching Fellow



I went to a state secondary school in Wiltshire where I first became interested in Drama. During sixth form my drama teacher encouraged a developing interest in experimental theatre and performance art. This lead to me doing a BA in Contemporary Arts at Nottingham Trent in 2003. I have been a practising Performance Artist since then. In 2005 I moved from Nottingham to London. I completed my MA in Theatre and Performance at Queen Mary in 2010 and started my PhD here straight after.

Undergraduate Teaching

In the 2015-16 academic year, I am teaching on:


Research Interests:

  • Performance Art and Live Art
  • Negative Affects – esp. awkwardness
  • Dysfunction in Contemporary Performance and Live Art
  • Audience Participation
  • The Social Turn
  • Neurodiversity – esp. dyspraxia
  • Performance and Psychoanalysis

Recent and On-Going Research

My recent PhD research, based at Queen Mary, investigated the efficacy of awkwardness in contemporary participatory performance. I focussed on the ‘social turn’ in contemporary art and performance, as described and analysed by art critics Nicolas Bourriaud, Claire Bishop and Grant Kester, and theatre scholars Shannon Jackson and Jen Harvie. The theoretical framework for this project was based on Slavoj Žižek’s  version of Lacanian psychoanalysis. I engaged critically with a range of contemporary participatory practices, with emphasis on performance artist David Hoyle and the art collective Reactor. I focussed on moments of social awkwardness and dysfunction in order to trouble the frequent positioning of participatory work as either convivial or antagonistic.

This interest in awkwardness and dysfunction has lead to on-going research into neurodiversity and contemporary performance. Embracing neurodiversity means celebrating the vast range of ways of emotionally and cognitively experiencing and describing the world, and not always trying to ‘fix’ or dismiss modes of being and doing commonly understood as ‘dysfunctional’ (for example, due to autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, aspergers and other ‘hidden’ disabilities). My on-going practice-based research (performances, workshops, Long Tables) explores this position in relation to contemporary performance and live art, and is directly related to my own experience of dyspraxia.


Book Chapter

Oliver, Daniel, ‘Getting Involved with the Neighbour’s Thing: Žižek and the Participatory Performance of Reactor (UK), in Žižek and Performance, ed. by Broderick Chow and Alex Mangold (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 154-164

Journal Articles

Oliver, Daniel, ‘Live Art and Neurodiversity: A Live Art Development Agency Study Room Guide’ (Forthcoming – commissioned by LADA)

Gerard, Mira., Mayberry, Tommy., Merlin, Ilya., Oliver, Daniel, ‘Off-Kilter Affects and Sublime Split-Subjects: A Group Self-Interview by some Žižekian Performers’, International Journal of Žižek Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1

Oliver, Daniel, ‘“You’re Funnier When You’re Angry”: Affirmation, Responsibility and Commitment in David Hoyle’s Live Performance Practice’, Performance Research, 19 (2014), 109–15

Oliver, Daniel, ‘Post-Relational Paranoid Play in Reactor’s Big Lizard’s Big Idea Project’, Platform 7.2 (Autumn 2013) <>

Oliver, Daniel, ‘Car Crashes, The Social Turn, and Glorious Glitches in David Hoyle’s Performances’, Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies 8.3 (August 2012) <>


I have performed  my own solo and collaborative performance art projects across the UK and overseas since 2003, always with a focus on dysfunction, audience participation and DIY aesthetics. My current performance project is called Weird Séance – a series of raucous, roughly layered participatory performances about participatory performance that are rejigged, added to, undone and perverted for each new site and context. I am currently working on a version of Weird Séance for the Barbican’s Pit theatre, as part of the SPILL Festival of performance.

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