Dr Frances Babbage

Contact Photograph of Frances Babbage

Room 5.08, Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

Internal extension: 28479
Phone number: +44 (0)114-222-8479
Fax: +44 (0)114-222-8481

email : f.babbage@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the School of English at Sheffield University in 2007, having previously taught at Leeds University and the University of Northampton. 

I have always been curious about the diversity of ways in which theatrical performance can be generated, an interest I have pursued in various forms for more than 20 years . I have trained with numerous companies including Forced Entertainment, Welfare State International, the Polish physical theatre company Song of the Goat, Station House Opera and Told by an Idiot, and these methods have influenced my teaching and creative work, as well as my research and writing.

During my Masters studies at Leeds University I developed an interest in practices of theatrical adaptation and rewriting, a research area I pursued at doctoral level: my PhD (at the University of Warwick) addressed the treatment of gender themes in theatrical reworkings of myth and fairytale. This research fed into my most recent monograph, Re-visioning Myth: Modern and Contemporary Drama by Women (Manchester University Press, 2011).

I have long been inspired by the work of the radical Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal, who sadly died in 2009. After training with Boal, I applied his techniques of participatory practice in a range of community contexts. My first monograph Augusto Boal, a study of Boal´s theatre theory and practice, was published by Routledge in 2004. I had previously edited a special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review looking at the ways these kinds of techniques are being used, titled Working Without Boal: Digressions and Developments in the Theatre of the Oppressed (1995); a more recent chapter I have written on the task of the actor within Boal’s practice is included in Alison Hodge ed. Actor Training (Routledge, 2009).


At the moment, my research and writing is principally concentrated in the area of theatre and adaptation studies. Having published several articles and chapters on this subject, my new project is a monograph titled Adaptation in Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature (Methuen, 2015).

I am currently working with my colleagues Professor Terry O’Connor (Forced Entertainment) and Dr Rachel Zerihan on a one-day symposium, titled In Imagination: the future reflected in art and argument, to be held on Friday October 4th 2013 in association with the UK premiere of Forced Entertainment’s new work Tomorrow’s Parties. In Imagination builds on shared preoccupations in cross-disciplinary research and performance practice, exploring the nature of imaginative space, determination and conceptual summoning, and focusing on ways in which theatre and performance might help us speculate, predict and conceptualise. For details about the event, please go to: http://inimaginationsymposium.eventbrite.co.uk/

At the moment I am in the final stage of a collaboration between two Sheffield colleagues and three professional artists on the AHRC-funded multi-disciplinary research project ‘An Archive of Exile’. The project has investigated what it means to think of oneself as 'out of place' and has asked what implications this has for reimagining 'the archive', something typically located in, or attached to, centres of political, economic, and cultural power; outputs generated by our research have included an exhibition of artworks mounted at Sheffield´s Bank Street Arts space (July 2011), and will also see a special issue of the interdisciplinary arts journal Parallax published in December 2013.

Again in an interdisciplinary context, I am working as a core member of the University-funded research network ‘RECITE: Theatre, the Archive and New Digital Technology’. RECITE has been developed in partnership with colleagues in Architecture and Computer Science, with the participation of Sheffield Theatres. Together with three doctoral candidates appointed to the project, the RECITE team aim to test and develop the potential of digital and new virtual world technologies in variously 'mapping' the city´s theatres and performance activities. (See 'RECITE' entry under 'The School' and 'Activities' on this site.)


I teach on the undergraduate Theatre & Performance programmes as well as the MA in Theatre & Performance Studies. My undergraduate modules include LIT241 Adaptation: Theory & Theatrical Practice; EGH223 Radical Texts: Transforming Performance, 1920s to the Present ; LIT3048 Women Playwrights on the International Stage, 1880s-1930s. 

At Masters Level I regularly teach or co-teach LIT6017 Theatre Practice 1, LIT6015 Theatre Practice 2 and LIT6036 Issues in Contemporary Performance.


I welcome PhD applicants who wish to undertake research in fields that include contemporary theatre practice; devising; performance documentation and archive studies; theatrical adaptation and rewriting; and applied theatres. The university also supports practice-based PhDs and I am very happy to discuss practice-led applications from potential research students. I currently supervise or co-supervise doctoral projects in: representations of ageing in contemporary British theatre; new models of performance dramaturgy; paratext and contemporary theatre; forum theatre in healthcare training; movement data capture in theatre activities.

  • Babbage, Frances. Re-Visioning Myth: Modern and Contemporary Drama by Women. Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press. 2011.
  • Babbage, Frances. Augusto Boal. London & New York: Routledge. 2004.
Edited Journal Issues
  • Babbage, Frances, Dubow, Jessica & Steadman-Jones, Richard eds. 2013. An Archive of Exile.  Parallax special issue: An Archive of Exile. 19: 4.
  • Babbage, Frances. Working Without Boal: Digressions and Developments in the Theatre of the Oppressed. Special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review, 3:1. 1995.
Articles and Chapters
  • Babbage, Frances. 2013. ‘The Animate Cabinet: Engaging (with) Archives in the Gallery.’ Parallax special issue: An Archive of Exile. 19: 4.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2012. ‘Alan Ayckbourn.’ Steve Nicholson ed. Decades of British Playwriting: the 1960s. London & New York: Methuen.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2010. ‘Adapting Wilde for the Performance Classroom: No Small Parts.’ Babbage, Frances with Robert Neumark Jones and Lauren Williams. Lawrence Raw & Dennis Cutchins eds. Re-defining Adaptation Studies. Maryland: Scarecrow Press. 1-16.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2010. ‘Augusto Boal: an appreciation.’ Short essay to mark the death of practitioner Augusto Boal. Contemporary Theatre Review 20: 1. 129-31.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2010. ‘Say the Word: “Non”’. Parallax 16: 3, 118-128. Co-authored with Steve Nicholson, Bill McDonnell and Terry O’Connor.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2009. ‘Augusto Boal’. Alison Hodge ed. Actor Training. London & New York: Routledge. 305-23.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2009. ‘Points and Practices: Augusto Boal.’ Co-authored essay with James Thompson, Jan Cohen-Cruz, David Diamond, Tim Wheeler & Paul Dwyer. RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. 423-48.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2009. ‘Heavy Bodies, Fragile Texts: Stage Adaptation and the Problem of Presence.’ Rachel Carroll ed. Adaptation in Contemporary Culture: Textual Infidelities. London & New York: Continuum. 11-22.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2007. ‘Making the Net Work: Connecting Theatre for Development Practices in India.’ Seagull Theatre Quarterly (the national quarterly for theatre in India), No. 39. 11-18.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2005. ‘The play of surface: theatre and The Turn of the Screw.’ Comparative Drama 39: 2. 131-56.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2005. ‘Putting your self on the line: ethical choices in research and writing.’ Paper given at PALATINE/University of Sheffield conference Whose Theatre (History) is it Anyway? A forum on the ethics of radical theatre practice, 25th February 2005. 3,000 words. http://www.lancs.ac.uk/palatine/reports/Sheffield_papers/babbage.doc.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2002. ‘Performing Love: a week’s discourse with Forced Entertainment’, in Practice as Research: Contemporary Theatre Review 12:4. 63-76.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2002. ‘The Female Quixote or The Adventures of Arabella: concerning a Narrative containing much that is Dramatic, and in which an Audience is expected to be extremely interested (and in which the Footnotes are not the least Part).’ Studies in Theatre and Performance 21:3. 150-161.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2000. ‘The Past in the Present: a response to Stan's Cafe's staging of The Carrier Frequency’. New Theatre Quarterly 16:1. 97-99.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2009. ‘Heavy Bodies, Fragile Texts: Stage Adaptation and the Problem of Presence.’ Rachel Carroll ed. Adaptation in Contemporary Culture: Textual Infidelities. London & New York: Continuum. 11-22.
  • Babbage, Frances. 2000. ‘Leaving the labyrinth: Hella Haasse's A Thread in the Dark’. Modern Drama 153:1. 120-129.
  • Babbage, Frances. 1999. ‘The rusalka reborn: Zinaida Gippius' Sacred Blood.’ New Comparison 27/28. 150-159.