Film, Theatre & Television Postgraduates

Current PhD Students

We support a diverse range of innovative PhD research projects, including those that draw on practice-based, interdisciplinary and cross-medial methodologies. The list  below shows some of the work our current students are conducting.

Niamh Bowe

Gary Cassidy

Sonya Chenery

James Cherry

Silvia Cordeiro DeMacedo

Tamara Courage

Hsin Hsieh

Edina Huanovic

Dominic Lees

Tebbie Marman Ngome

Matthew McFrederick

Mark Player

Lucinda Pope

Johnmichael Rossi

Jennifer Stokes


 Robyn Appleton  
Niamh Bowe

'Early Phenomenology and the aesthetics of suffering in Samuel Beckett's non-prose work'

Niamh's AHRC funded research examines the aesthetics of Beckett's work in film, television and performance. This research will focus on a phenomenological reading of Beckett's aesthetic techniques. Instead of using more dominant phenomenological discourse she will be returning to the founders of the phenomenological movement, Husserl and Scheler, to gain a new perspective. In conjunction, the research will also incorporate a practical analysis of Beckett's use of film and television. Niamh's aim is to distinguish the aesthetics of Beckett's later work through film, performance and television discourse instead of literary discourse. Niamh's research therefore involves a detailed study of all of Beckett's non-prose work with extensive archival study.

In 2011 Niamh graduated with a first class double honours degree in English and Philosophy and in 2012 Niamh graduated with a first class Masters in 'Twentieth century Irish writing and Critical Theory'. Niamh is the recipient of an AHRC-funded scholarship at University of Reading and is also funded by the Collections-Based Research PhD programme.

She is being supervised by the Prof. Anna McMullan and Prof. Johnathan Bignell of the Film, Theatre and Television department.

 Lola Breaux

Lola Breaux


'Aesthetics of Absence in the films by Otto Preminger'

My research looks at the aesthetics of the films directed and produced by Austrian-born director Otto Preminger. In 1962 the critics from Movie declared that "the films of Otto Preminger are so different from those of any other director that an investigation of Preminger's work tends to dwell as much on what it is not, as on what it is". This thesis proposes to study the films with an emphasis on the former. Through close textual analysis, I will examine the productions looking specifically at the avoided, the absent and the withheld, with the purpose of unveiling a conscious aesthetic strategy.

I will then turn to research of the production history of the films in order to see how scripts, production notes, memos, etc. can further illuminate our understanding of Preminger's creative process.

This project is a continuation of my MA dissertation, which explored the concept of aesthetics of absence in three films by Otto Preminger. My interest in Preminger was strengthened in my third year of undergraduate study, during which I wrote a dissertation on the first Hollywood film he directed and produced; Laura. I delivered a paper based on this dissertation at the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Conference (BAFTSS) in 2014.

My thesis is funded through an AHRC doctoral award and is jointly supervised by Dr. John Gibbs and Dr. Alex Clayton from the University of Bristol.

Gary Cassidy

Gary Cassidy'From Theory to Practice: An Analysis of In-Yer-Face Theatre'

Gary Cassidy - Equity name Cas Harkins - trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama graduating with a Diploma in Dramatic Art, and was the recipient of The Simon Crowther Memorial Award. He has thirteen years of acting experience, covering all the performance genres: in particular he worked with two of the principal 'in-yer-face' dramatists; Sarah Kane and Anthony Neilson. In 2011-12, Gary graduated with a First Class Honours degree in English Studies and an MLitt in Literature, Culture and Place from Strathclyde University. He is a recipient of an AHRC-funded scholarship at the University of Reading and is entering his second year of study. His PhD is entitled 'From Theory to Practice: An Analysis of In-Yer-Face Theatre'. His thesis will focus on the largely overlooked role of the actor in this type of theatre.

Gary was one of the organisers of Reading University's postgraduate conference, Journeys Across Media, in 2013.

His academic conference papers include: 'Psychological Liminality in Anthony Neilson's The Wonderful World of Dissocia' at 'Haggis Hunting' in Edinburgh; 'The Wonderful World of Documenting Anthony Neilson's "Process"' at TAPRA in Glasgow; and 'The Role of the Actor in Anthony Neilson's "Process"' at 'Turning the Page' in Reading.

Gary has a forthcoming publication, 'Psychological Liminality in Anthony Neilson's The Wonderful World of Dissocia' in the International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen. This article is based on the paper presented at 'Haggis Hunting'.

Sonya Chenery

Sonya Chenery'Animating the Evacuee Archive: Memory and Materiality' (Practice as Research)

The Evacuee Archive is a collection of memoirs and materials relating to the experiences of evacuees during World War II, which is housed at the Museum Of English Rural Life.

In 2008, Sonya graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a 1st Class honours degree in Fine Art, and in 2012 she gained an MA in Fine Art from University of Brighton. Her art practice has taken the form of video, kinetic installation, performance and recorded sound and she has a particular interest in themes and questions of memory in relation to everyday objects and places. In August 2013 Sonya was involved, as a visiting artist, in a Creative Action Across Borders project based at the lighthouse in Hanstholm, Northern Denmark.

Sonya's creative practice has been strongly influenced by theatre and she has directed productions and led workshops with children's and young people's theatre groups in Hertfordshire. She has recently worked as a leader and editor with children's filmmaking clubs in Hertfordshire and London.

Commencing in October 2013, Sonya has been selected to undertake a PhD project - funded as part of the university's Collections-Based Research programme - to engage with, intervene in and animate aspects of this archive within a range of publicly accessible spaces. Her PhD is supervised by Dr. Teresa Murjas and Dr. Lisa Purse.

Examples of Sonya's work can be seen on her website:

 James Cherry

James Cherry

'Sameness and Compassion: An Enquiry into Performance in Contemporary Documentary Filmmaking.'


James's thesis calls for a re-evaluation of the normative demands levied at Documentary cinema as a mode with objective truth and the subsequent criticisms that have arisen.

It explores a hypothesis that demonstrates Documentary as a constructive, investigatory and educational art form.

A focus is made on the contemporary trend in filmmakers who critically engage with performance, in approach and subject matter, as an epistemological and ethical focal point.

These considerations of performance will be analysed and be shown to highlight human commonality, sameness in spite of our given differences and consequently promoting compassionate, cognitive social considerations.

Drawing from James's BA & MA degrees in Film History and his continuing involvement in Documentary production as a researcher, this project aims to explore and invigorate the ethical discussions surrounding the genre and promote further reasoned understandings of it's abilities as an art form.

James is being supervised in the Department of Film Theatre & Television by Professor LĂșcia Nagib & Professor Jonathan Bignell.

 Silvia Cristina CordeiroDeMacedo


'New directions in Set design: Colours, the case of new Pernambuco's cinema'

Silvia's research examines the production of a set of films made by filmmakers from Pernambuco, Brazil in the last 15 years and will be presented in the form of a documentary accompanied by a written thesis. Her research investigates the role of art direction in the composition of cinematic narrative, highlighting the particular importance of colour as a constitutive element of the visual language of this "new cinema" from Pernambuco. Beyond an understanding of colour and scenography as determinants of cinematic style and narrative, the research explores the hypothesis that this set of films reflects a distinctive regional visual culture, manifest through reciprocal influences among its directors, but also in dialogue with international trends.

Recent production credits: Art Director of the short film Ponto Final, by Andrea Cohin (2015); Director of the short film: Melissa (2014).

Tamara Courage  

Tamara Courage

'Confronting Realities: Urban Spaces, Mobility and Memory in Contemporary Independent Chinese Cinema'

Tamara's thesis examines contemporary Chinese independent cinema's contribution to national and world cinemas. More specifically, it focuses on the marginalised subject in Mainland China who is often ignored in mainstream film but who is historically pertinent to capturing the country's phenomenal developments. Her aim is to understand how recent transformations in China have impacted on the independent filmmaker's style that often blends documentary with fictional narratives and gives rise to complex representations of marginalised historical subjects.

From 2012-2013 and with support from the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Tamara was granted the opportunity to conduct her PhD research and study Mandarin for one year at Nanjing University in China.

She has co-edited the graduate newsletter for the Centre for World Cinemas at the University of Leeds and has co-organised postgraduate conferences at both the University of Leeds and the University of Reading. She is also a regular contributor to and has a forthcoming publication in the Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 3.

Tamara is being supervised by Prof. LĂșcia Nagib and Lecturer Simone Knox in the department of Film, Theatre and Television.


Verity Donachy-Combe  
Judy Hegarty-Lovett  
Hsin Hsieh

Hsin image UTO

'Peter Shaffer: from Stage to Screen'

Hsin's research examines Peter Shaffer's film adaptations through the shaping of screenplays. In the field of Peter Shaffer study, researchers have contributed to the understanding of Shaffer's theme of religious pursuit and the structure protagonist and antagonist. Yet, this research aims to further contextualize Shaffer's with adaptation studies. This research focuses on Shaffer's identity as an adaptor, from the preliminary stage of stage play writing as a playwright to his engagement to screenplay writing, adapting his own stage to screen. Chronologically examining Shaffer's works will demonstrate his experience of adaptation.

In 2015 Hsin graduated with Master of Art in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University with a special focus on Thornton Wilder and adaptation studies.

Her adaptation-related funded conference papers includes: "Our Town Film Adaptation: Editing History in Transition" in American Literature Association Conference in Washington DC; "Thornton Wilder's 'Jian-Chang' in Our Town Stage Play" American Literature Association Conference in Boston; "Framing Thornton Wilder's Our Town in 1940 Film Adaptation" in Popular Culture Association American Culture Association Conference in Washington DC. Papers are funded Ministry of Science and Technology (formerly National Science Council) in Taiwan and College of Liberal Art, National Taiwan University.

 Edina Husanovic  

Edina Husanovic for PGR page'Dis-Orient Express: Performances of Oriental Femininity along the Route of the Orient Express'

Edina's PhD thesis is a practice-based inquiry into contemporary feminist and postcolonial contexts of belly dance. The research so far has included a journey following the route of the Orient Express train, investigating contemporary performances of the oriental 'Other' in Europe, interviewing orientalist scholars and belly dancers in various European locations. This journey showed Edina Europe at odds with itself. Is Oriental identity opposed to European identity, in the times when Europe is counting millions of Muslims? 

The research findings were also presented in a recent performance Dis-Orient Express at Reading University, which represents the practical element of Edina's PhD. The name Dis-Orient Express attempts to de-centre the binary opposition between 'European' and 'Oriental'. What it means to be European today has changed substantially from the 1920s, when the Orient Express was in its heyday. What are the complications that pertain to different embodiments of 'Oriental feminine other' in the context of globalisation and digital revolution?

Dominic Lees

Dominic Lees profile'Creative Modes of Production in the filmmaking process' (Practice as Research)

The purpose of my research is to understand better the extremely varied creative practices of filmmakers. The central question that my research asks is: to what extent can we class filmmaking practice into 'modes of production' based around the decision-making approaches of directors? The study will seek to organise the individual and idiosyncratic strategies of filmmaking into clusters of types. It will strive to outline frameworks for understanding some of the commonalities of filmmaking modes and explore means of differentiation.

Dominic is an award-winning feature film director, a screenwriter and an experienced director of television drama. Dominic began his career in documentary-making and TV Current Affairs, and has directed drama for BBC and ITV1. He was Associate Producer for a Channel Four weekly political affairs programme, before moving into writing and directing drama for the screen. Dominic spent a year in Warsaw studying filmmaking with Krzysztof Kieslowski. Dominic's short films have won numerous prizes including Best Film at The British Short Film Festival. Dominic's first feature film, Outlanders, won five awards at international film festivals, including Best Director. He continues to write feature screenplays while pursuing his research interests.

Deborah (Tebbie) Marman-Ngome

Deborah Marman-Ngome'Verbatim Theatre as - 'Giving Voice to the Voiceless' (Practice as Research)'

Tebbie is working on a theory- and practice-based project, pursuing research on community theatre. My research concerns the efficacy of applying theatre to socio-economic issues. In this project Tebbie is interested in developing forms of political theatre, specifically verbatim theatre, to address questions around migration and identity. The study explores the concept of unintended self-exile to the west, especially to the UK, by postgraduate non-UK students. The opportunities offered by the use of verbatim theatre practices to educate, promote understanding and engage in dialogue, for the audience and the performer/participants, will be explored. The development of a Practice as Research performance involving a local migrant community will investigate explanations for unintended migration and explore the possibilities of providing a platform to conscientise communities about this issue. The performance will also provide research into the effectiveness of verbatim theatre as a political form.

Camilo Martin Florez  
Matthew McFrederick

'A Historiography of London Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama'

Matthew is researching the production histories of Samuel Beckett's drama in London. This thesis will examine significant productions of Beckett's work from the London premiere of Waiting for Godot at the Arts Theatre in 1955 to Harold Pinter's performance in Krapp's Last Tape at the Royal Court in 2006. Matthew's project will provide an overview of productions of Beckett's drama, analysing how they have been interpreted by different theatre practitioners and their reception in performance. This performance historiography will reflect on the impact of Beckett's drama on performers, directors, designers and how it transformed British and Irish theatre. By reflecting on productions from different eras, this thesis aims to gain a greater understanding of how Beckettian performance has developed as the sixtieth anniversary of Godot's London premiere approaches in 2015.

This PhD is part of the AHRC funded Staging Beckett project which will assess the Impact of Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama on Theatre Practice and Cultures in the United Kingdom and Ireland (1955-2010). As well as the University of Reading, this project works in collaboration with the University of Chester and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Matthew is being supervised in the Department of Film Theatre & Television by Dr Graham Saunders and Professor Anna McMullan.

 Mark Player


Mark Player small image

'Negotiating Intermedia, Post Media and Remediation in the Reflexive Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto' (working title)

Mark's research is centred on intermediality, intertextuality and self-reflexivity in recent Japanese visual culture, specialising in the jishu seisaku eiga (self-produced cinema) that rose in tandem from the ashes of Japan's collapsed film industry and the nation's rapidly growing fascination with punk / industrial music, as well as their associated subcultures, during the 1970s and 80s. This thesis will place a particular focus on self-sufficient filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto, who sprang from this jishu eiga wave in the late 80s and has gone on to produce a distinctive body of work throughout the 1990s and 2000s that continually revises and reinterprets the themes and stylistic techniques of past work, as well as showcasing instances of intermedial and intertextual interplay, or 'medial uncanniness' - perhaps best exemplified throughout Tsukamoto's signature series of Tetsuo films (1989-2009).

Mark comes from a background in both film production and film journalism. He has worked as a screenwriter, director and editor on short film projects that have screened at festivals around the world, and has written extensively on East Asian cinema for websites such as Midnight Eye, Bright Lights Film Journal, Electric Sheep Magazine and the now-retired Subtitled Online (where he also served as Assistant Editor). He has also contributed to Intellect's Directory of World Cinema book series (Japan 3).

 Lucinda Pope

Lucinda Pope

'The Transpositional Procedure of Interpreting Shakespeare's Playtext Narratives through the Palimpsestic Medium of the Action Film.'

From the silent era to modern action motion pictures, Shakespeare's playtext narratives have been adapted from the sourcetext to the cinema screen. Tracing the development of the gesture as signifier within the pre-talkies shorts through to current interpretations of the texts, Lucinda's research seeks to examine the continuous nature of action-as-narrative underscoring the chronological evolution of the Shakespeare film adaptation through the lens of popular film genres. Her supervisors are Dr. Lisa Purse and Dr. Graham Saunders.

Johnmichael Rossi

Johnmichael Rossi'The Parallel Lives of a Theatrical 'Work': Writing and Reading Site-Specific Interactive Plays As Both Literary and Performance Texts' (Practice as Research) 

Johnmichael's research investigates the process of writing and reading site-specific interactive plays, both as performance texts and literary texts. Through practice-based research Johnmichael will interrogate and document the process of writing, producing and reading a new site-specific interactive play, Rumi High, to be presented as both a live performance text and a digital literary text. The aims of the research are to analyse how two types of audience, the live attendant and the book reader, read such 'works' and thus, make meaning. Rumi High addresses questions around education, learning and schooling by satirizing the school system as a factory, and situating the audience member as a 'student,' who will take a journey on the "educational assembly line."

 Jennifer Stokes


 Jennifer Stokes small image

'Inscribing a Socio-choreographic Practice into Community Dance: Individual and Collective Transformation'


This practice as research PhD project aims to develop and implement a socio-choreographic practice that focusses upon the transformation of the individual and of collective groups within community dance. Dance practices that relate to social transformation in community dance are thin on UK ground. This project aims to make an original contribution to the field of community dance by building upon and developing critical concepts around the fields of social choreography and somatic practice. In terms of practice, Jennifer is currently drawing upon yoga, tai chi, release technique and contact improvisation movement vocabularies and exercises to not only transform individuals and social relationships but to also prepare participants for socio-choreographic tasks focussed upon the discovery, unpacking and letting go of unwanted habitus, behaviours and social interactions in various spaces and/or political landscapes in everyday life.

Recent and Relevant Publications/Performances/Creative Outputs

1. Guest lecture at University of Lincoln as part of the MA Choreography course. Facilitating Dance: Social Choreography workshop to home and international undergraduate and postgraduate students, September 2015.

2. Choreography for Parbold Hill Comes Alive - a community procession, Parbold Street Festival of Music and Dance 2015 for Chapel Gallery, West Lancashire Borough Council, July - September 2015.

3. Skills Practitioner workshops in Dance/Drama for The Challenge, National Citizen Service. For more information about the programme, please visit:, June 2015 - Present Day.

4. Story-making and the Embodied Space professional workshop in association with University of Oxford, TORCH and The Story Museum. The project was funded by the Higher Education Council for England. You can find a film of the project here:, February - June 2015.

Marek Undro  



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