School of English and Drama

Drama menu

Dr Martin Welton, BA (Hons) and MPhil (Birmingham), PhD (Surrey)


Reader in Theatre and Performance



I grew up in Somerset and spent every available moment in the local theatre. I did a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham, planning to become an actor, but became equally as interested in thinking about theatre as I was in making it. I stayed on at Birmingham to study for an MPhil, and received my PhD from the University of Surrey in 2002, passing the viva and receiving a job offer from QMUL on the same day. My academic work has always involved making theatre as well as studying it, and I’m increasingly keen to develop an open and sustained dialogue between the academy and professional theatre practice.

Undergraduate Teaching

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


Research Interests:

  • Theatre and the senses
  • Transnational performance
  • Movement and embodiment
  • Theories of mobility
  • Dance and theatre

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research centres around two broad thematic concerns – movement and the senses – in relation to the theory and practice of contemporary performance. I am interested in how theatre practitioners and audiences ‘make sense’ of the unusual ways that they are sometimes invited to look, feel or listen. This was the subject of my first book Feeling Theatre, that considered a continuum between emotion and the senses in making and watching performance. As well as publishing books and articles, I’m also exploring this in practice, making new theatre works with professional artists outside the academy. I collaborate with, amongst others, Sound and FuryTheater Feuerblau and Clare Whistler. In 2012 I co-curated On Taking Care with the choreographer Rosemary Lee. Building on Lee’s 2009 performance Common Dance, this one day symposium brought together artists and academics from different disciplines to share their responses to, and understanding of, the notion of care within their specific contexts.

In considering movement, I’m interested in how it is used in meaningful ways in the theatre, but also, increasingly, in the need to take its interstices and relationships with other practices and flows that take place ‘off stage’ into account. This includes a concern for works which blur the apparent dividing lines between dance, theatre and everyday life, but also for the cultural politics and practices of touring theatre, theatre and tourism, and for the increasingly transnational movement of artists and audiences. I am a co-director of ArtsCross, an international research network, partly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This long-term initiative brings together academics and artists across cultural, national and artistic borders and includes collaborations with the Beijing Dance Academy, Taipei National University of the Arts, and University of Exeter. Since 2011 it has held meetings in Taipei, Beijing and London and has led to the creation of eighteen new intercultural performances.


with A. Alston (eds.) Theatre in the Dark: Blackout, Gloom and Darkness in Contemporary Theatre (London: Methuen, forthcoming)

‘The Possibility of Darkness: Blackout and the Shadow in Chris Goode's Who You Are’, Theatre Research International, 31 (2013)

‘From Floor to Stage: Kalarippayattu Travels’, in Martial Arts as Embodied Knowledge: Asian Traditions in a Transnational World, ed. D. Farrer and J. Whalen Bridge (New York: State University of New York Press, 2011), pp. 161-84

Feeling Theatre (Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011)

‘Listening-as-Touch: Paying attention to Rosemary Lee's Common Dance’, Performance Research, 15 (2010), 47-54 doi:10.1080/13528165.2010.527203

 ‘Feeling like a Tourist’, Performance Research, 12 (2007), 47-52 doi:10.1080/13528160701554642

‘Just for kicks? In Search of the Performative “something else” in a South Indian Martial Art’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 16 (2006), 153-158

‘Seeing Nothing: Now Hear This’, in The Senses in Performance, ed. A. Lepecki & S. Banes (London and New York: Routledge: 2006), pp. 146-155

‘Once more with feeling’, Performance Research, 10 (2005), 100-12

with P. Rae, ‘Traveling Performance’, Performance Research, 12 (2007), 1-4 doi:10.1060/13528160701554436

‘Against Inclusivity: A happy heresy about theory and practice (Challenging some of the new orthodoxies of theatre studies)’, New Theatre Quarterly, 19:76 (2003), 347-351

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile

PhD Supervision

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 projects:

  • Jen Mitas, ‘Work, Emotion and the American Method’ (2009)
  • George Home-Cook, ‘Stretching Ourselves: The Phenomenology of Sound and Listening in Contemporary Theatre’ (2013)
  • Chariklia Marini, ‘Theatre Out of Place’ (2013)
  • Colombine Gardair ‘Audience Interaction in Street Performances’, co-supervision with Prof. Patrick Healey (EECS) (2013)


with Theater Feurblau (Austria) The Loss of Shadows/ Vom Verschwindung der Schattens, Theater am Lend, Graz, September, 2015

with Clare Whistler in Footage, video installation, Peopling the Palaces festival, June 2014

with Clare Whistler in Footage, Freshly Scratched festival, Battersea Arts Centre, June 2013.

Performer and devisor with Klaus Seewald (Theater ASOU, Austria) in Unknown Origin, selected for the Body Navigation festival, St Petersburg, Russia, July 2007

Performer and devisor with Klaus Seewald (Theater ASOU, Austria) for Feeling Spaces a research and development project sponsored by Chisenhale Dance Space’s Artists programme, April – June 2007

Performer and devisor in The Watery Part of the World with Sound and Fury Theatre Company, touring April – July 2003, British Council presentation Skopje, Macedonia, March 2004

Performer and devisor in Remember to Forget, directed by Emilyn Claid, September – November 2003

Performer and devisor in nobodies baby directed by Emilyn Claid, touring nationally and internationally January – May 2002

Return to top