Dr Jon Venn

Dr Jon Venn

Department of Drama and Theatre Arts
Teaching Fellow

Contact details

My research primarily concerns mental health in contemporary performance, from representation of psychiatric diagnosis to autobiographical theatre. I’ve written extensively on British theatre and Irish theatre. My current work concentrates on understandings of suicide, including representations of suicide-as-protest and the mourning of suicide.


  • BA Politics and Philosophy, Cardiff
  • MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media, RCSSD
  • PhD in Drama, Exeter


My BA was in Politics and Philosophy at Cardiff University, where I became fascinated with logics of agency and their connection to cultural representation. As I shifted to my MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I became fascinated by how these logics translated dramaturgically, and how theatre could offer a site of radicalized understanding concerning mental health. This fascination continued to my PhD at the University of Exeter, which interrogated how British and Irish theatre can act as a site of resistance to hegemonic understandings of madness. Following teaching at Exeter and the University of Warwick, I began my post at the Department of Drama at the University of Birmingham.


I teach on a range of modules. This includes acting as module convenor for first-year modules Studio Practice, Preparing Performance, and Engaging Performance. I provide lectures for Performance: Theory, Practices, and Critique. I teach on the second-year module Theatre Praxis. I provide supervision for third year Extended Essays and Practical Projects in Drama. I also work with and provide support for the Shakespeare Institute.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in any PhD proposal concerning mental health, suicide, the intersection between medicine and performance.


My research concerns the different ways performance can act as a radical site through which to conceptualize madness. My monograph, Madness in Contemporary British Theatre: Resistances and Representation, was published by Palgrave in September 2021. I have also contributed articles and chapters to Performing Ethos, The Interdisciplinary Journal of Voice Studies, and The Cambridge Companion to Theatre and Science. More recently, I have been interested in cultural representations of suicide, specifically concerning different framings of suicidality.