Dr Caroline Radcliffe ARCM; Dip.Perf.RCM; PhD


Department of Drama and Theatre Arts

Photograph of Dr Caroline Radcliffe

Contact details

The Old Library (SOVAC)
998 Bristol Road
Selly Oak
B29 6LG


I have had a long freelance career in music and drama and am still an active performer in both fields. My specialist academic areas are nineteenth-century theatre, popular theatre studies, technology and performance and any area of music and drama.


Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music graduating in performance in 1985. Postgraduate study in music in Amsterdam 1985 and at the Civica Scuola di Musica, Milano 1986; in drama at the City Literary Institute with Rodney Archer and Powell Jones 1987-1989. PhD, Royal Holloway, University of London, graduating 2006.


As a freelance musician, I specialised in historical performance practice and have performed with all the major period instrument orchestras in Britain and many in Europe; touring throughout the UK, Europe, Australia and China. I have recorded extensively and broadcast for BBC Radios 3 and 4,  BBC TV and various films. As well as solo recitals and orchestral work I worked regularly for many opera companies, specialising in seventeenth and eighteenth-century and early classical opera and still work extensively onstage with The Globe theatre

I taught, conducted and directed ensembles at the Royal College of Music for twenty years and am an examiner for the main conservatoires. Parallel to my career as a musician I trained as an actor, going on to work mainly in theatre education, museum theatre and heritage theatre.

More recently I have developed my own contemporary practice crossing theatre, music, sound, dance and technology. My practical and academic involvement in theatre led me to study for a PhD in theatre and cultural history on Victorian Popular Theatre. During my studies at Royal Holloway I taught and examined graduate drama modules and was an assistant for the London Music Hall Database.

Before taking up my post as lecturer at Birmingham I worked for a year as research assistant for the Royal Holloway/British Library AHRC funded project ‘Buried Treasures: the Lord Chamberlain’s Play Collection 1852-1863’.


I have been teaching in the Department since 2008. I have taught on a number of core study and practical modules including Dramatic Medium, Theatre and Cultural Politics, Theatre Lab and Theatre Practice (Proxemics module and Stanislavski module) and the Final Dissertation Portfolio. In 2009 I introduced a second year practical option on Voice and a third year study option on Popular Performance. In 2012 I introduced a third year module on Victorian Theatre. I directed the third year Production Module in 2011.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome any informal enquiries from potential MPhil or PhD applicants. I am interested in supervising theses within any areas of my specialisms, also practice-based research or doctorates.

I recently supervised or am currently supervising MPhil and PhD students in areas such as site-specific theatre, visual and scenographic techniques, actor training in relation to opera direction, Victorian Pantomime and Black-Country Industry, and Phillipe Gaulier.


My PhD focussed on Victorian popular theatre and cultural hegemony, examining the comic performer Dan Leno, whose career encompassed dance, music hall, pantomime, burlesque and musical comedy.

My research centres mainly on Victorian Theatre with an emphasis on anything beyond the major canon, engaging primarily with cultural and ideological critical theory. My research encompasses popular and ‘illegitimate’ theatre, class, industrialization, labour and technology, biography and iconography, remediation, intermediality and sensate/sensory performance. I have specialist knowledge of all forms of theatre with music and my work within music and museum and heritage theatre leads me to examine the myth of authenticity and the invention of tradition with a specilisation in traditional dance. I have established a museum theatre project at Winterbourne house with our students. I am currently researching the scenographic and dramaturgical content of Wilkie Collins's sensation dramas and directed one of his unpublished plays, The Red Vial, for the DTA production module 2011. I was awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant to further work on Wilkie Collins 2011-2013.

I have worked extensively on breathing, relaxation and voice production both in acting and music and am keen to extend my teaching in this area.

I am interested and practically engaged in contemporary, multi-media performance, working in collaboration with sound artist Sarah Angliss (of Spacedog). My work with Angliss reflects my research interest in the history of science and performance. In 2007 we were awarded a contemporary dance award for our digital, multi-media dance piece and we hope to develop work on another dance/multimedia piece on womens' labour saving devices in the kitchen, influenced by early experiments in time and motion. My practical areas of teaching reflect my interests in contemporary theatre practice and my research seeks to bridge the gap between historical and contemporary performance.

I am also a member of the innovative music ensemble Byrde, performing contemporary, old and world music in new contexts. I teach, perform and choreograph Lancashire clog dance and I work regularly as a musician/actor with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

I have lived in Italy and still spend much time there, speaking fluent Italian. I  have a strong interest in all periods of Italian theatre and film.

Other activities


  • Member of TaPRA. (Theatre and Performance Research Association)
  • University of Birmingham rep. for SCUDD.  (The Standing Conference of University Drama Departments).
  • External examiner for RCM, RAM, Brunel University.

Selected conference papers

September 2006: “Ethics and catharsis in the opera productions of Katie Mitchell and Tim Hopkins”, Tapra, Central School of Music and Drama.

September 2008: “Remediation and immediacy in the theatre of sensation” at Royal Holloway University of London “Buried Treasures Victorian Theatre in the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays collection 1852 -1862” symposium.

 April 2009: “The Talking Fish: Victorian Exhibitions and the Evolutionary Delusion” at Exeter University conference, “Instruction, Amusement and Spectacle: Shows and exhibitions 1800-1914”.

 July 2010:  “Wilkie Collins and the Scenographer’s Imagination”, University of Birmingham conference, “ ‘The Sister Arts’ in  Popular Performance 1820-1910”.

 September 2010: “Wilkie Collins: Scenographer”, University of Cardiff TaPRA conference.

 September 2011: Henry Irving and the Music Halls: Theatrical Hierarchy, Cultural Capital and the Legitimate/Illegitimate Divide”, University of Lancaster, Politics in Popular Performance conference.


Invited presentations at symposia:


 January 2010: Invited speaker at The Central School of Speech and Drama University of London, “Eccentric Dance” workshops organised by research fellow Jon Davison. Interview archived by CSSD.

 December 2010: Invited speaker and presenter at Centre for Training in Excellence for Theatre (CETT) research event at The Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, “Presentation and Discussion: Research into Movement”, “The Machinery, performance and the industrial workspace”. Interview archived by CSSD.

 February 2011: Invited speaker at University of the West of England research seminar “Staging the Victorians”.

March 2012: SCUDD conference: Invited panel member on Admissions and Transitions to University Drama Departments


Kershaw, Caroline, “Dan Leno: New Evidence on Early Influences and Style”, Nineteenth Century Theatre, Vol.22, no.1, Summer 1994, pp.30-55. ISSN 0893-3766

Kershaw, Caroline, “They’ve done me, they’ve robbed me, but, thank God, I’m the champion still!” Clog dancing in the Victorian Music Hall”, Border Tensions: Dance and Discourse, Proceedings of the Fifth Study of Dance Conference, University of Surrey, 1995, pp.199-207. ISBN: 0-946483-23-X

Kershaw, Caroline, Christy Carson, Jacky Bratton, “The London Music Hall Database”, Nineteenth Century Theatre, Vol.24, no.1, Summer 1996, pp. 34-35.

Radcliffe, Caroline, “The Ladies’ Clog Dancing Contest of 1898”, in Georgina Boyes, (ed.) Step Change: New Views on Traditional Dance, Francis Boutle, London 2001, pp.86-116. ISBN 1-903427-09-6

Radcliffe Caroline, “Recent Activity in British Library Manuscript Collections: French Drama in the British Library’s Lord Chamberlain’s Plays Collection”, French Studies Library Group Annual Review, Issue 4 (2007-2008) pp.48-49. http://fslg.libr.port.ac.uk/ Online journal.

Radcliffe, Caroline and Mattacks, Kate "From Analogues to Digital: New Resources in Nineteenth-Century Theatre' in 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, "Victorian Theatricalities", Issue no.8, pp.1-18, April 2009. Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Birbeck, University of London. www.19.bbk.ac.uk ISSN 1755.1560

Radcliffe Caroline “Remediation and immediacy in the theatre of sensation” in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, Vol 36, Number 2, Winter 2009, pp. 38-53. ISSN 1748-3727. Special edition on “Buried treasures” project by Royal Holloway University of London and British Library).

Radcliffe Caroline, “Dan Leno: Dame of Drury Lane” Davis, Jim (ed.) Victorian Pantomime, Palgrave. 2010, pp.118-135. ISBN 978-0-230-22159-8.

Radcliffe Caroline, “The Talking Fish: Performance and Delusion in the Victorian Exhibition”, Kember, Joe; Plunkett, John; Sullivan, Jill (eds.) in Instruction, Amusement, Spectacle: Popular Exhibitions 1840-1914, Pickering and Chatto, 2011.ISBN:1848933061 (hbk.); 184893307X (ebook); 9781848933064 (hbk.); 9781848933071 (ebook).

Radcliffe, Caroline: Katie Mitchell’s St Matthew Passion: Moral indignation at Glyndebourne Opera. Reflection, Performing Ethos, peer-reviewed journal, Spring 2013. ISSN:1757-1987. In press.

Radcliffe Caroline, Angliss Sarah, “Revolution: challenging the automaton: repetitive labour and dance in the industrial workspace”, in Performance Research 18.1, Winter 2013, peer-reviewed  journal, March 2013. ISSN: 1352-8165.

Radcliffe, Caroline; Gasson Andrew, The Lighthouse by Wilkie Collins, with an Introduction by Caroline Radcliffe and Andrew Gasson and a Foreword by P.D. James. ­ Francis Boutle Publishers, London 2013. ISBN 978 1903427 80 4.

Books and chapters in preparation:

Radcliffe, Caroline, Studies in Victorian Theatre Practice: Wilkie Collins: "A Dramatic Faculty".

Radcliffe, Caroline, “Henry Irving and the Music Halls: Theatrical Hierarchy, Cultural Capital and the Legitimate/Illegitimate Divide”, book chapter in Politics and Popular Performance, eds. Katherine Newey, Peter Yeandle, Jeffrey Richards. 2014.

Recent Reviews:

Radcliffe, Caroline, Studies in Musical Theatre.

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