Dr Joanna Bucknall BA (Hons), MA, PhD, PGCTLHE & Fellow of the HEA

Dr Joanna Bucknall

Department of Drama and Theatre Arts

Contact details

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

I am a practice-based scholar whose research interests include immersive performance practices, augmented and mixed reality in performance, live art, practice-as-research, performance documentation and cognitive approaches to reception theory. I am the artistic director of Vertical Exchange Performance Collective, co-artistic director of KeepHouse Performance and an Associate Artist at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. I have collaborated with venues such as The Barbican in Plymouth, Camden People’s Theatre, The Basement in Brighton, Performing Arts Centre Lincoln, the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth and Battersea Arts Centre. Since completing my PhD at the University of Winchester in 2011 I have been concerned with exploring, making and understanding work that includes its audiences in fundamental ways.


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Authority
  • PhD
  • MA Theatre Today
  • BA (Hons) 1st Class in Drama & Theatre


Since completing my PhD at the University of Winchester in 2011 I have been concerned with exploring, making and understanding work that includes its audiences in fundamental ways. I have collaborated with The Barbican in Plymouth, Camden People’s Theatre, The Basement in Brighton, Performing Arts Centre Lincoln, the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, ArtReach UK, the British Red Cross, Coastguard Studio, Big Adventures and Battersea Arts Centre. I am concerned with exploring work that includes its audiences in fundamental ways.


  • Theatre Practice
  • Writing for Performance
  • Performance Text Workshop
  • Performance Project

I am the convenor for Applied Theatre

Postgraduate supervision

Balça, Jorge (2017 completed), ‘When a Voice Is Not Enough: the existentialist opera performer as auteur’, PhD Thesis, Portsmouth, UK: University of Portsmouth. I was the second supervisor offering support on PaR methodologies and documentation.
Smith, Victoria (expected completion 2019), ‘Painting on film: An interdisciplinary and performative exploration of Stan Brakhage’s hand-painted films’. PhD Thesis, Portsmouth, UK: University of Portsmouth. I am the second supervisor offering support on embodied and phenomenological methodologies and performative documentation.
Hayes, Laura, (Expected completion 2018). ‘Relationship between devised theatre and written performance script in the UK’, MA by Research at the University of Birmingham. I am the second supervisor, offering expertise in PaR and phenomenological methodologies.

Find out more - our PhD Drama and Theatre Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My primary research interests are in the following areas: production and reception theory of experimental contemporary performance; specifically, immersive, one on one, micro performance & participative dramaturgies. I am interested in explicating the nature of risk and investment in such dramaturgies and the implications of that upon the nature of the audience’s role. Practice as research (PaR) in performance that interrogates the nature of the audience in liminal spaces through liminoid acts and invitations. PaR theory, specifically the documentation of PaR through performative and intermediality. I am also concerned with exploring performative ways to document and archive a variety of localised histories and heritage. I have been working as a practice-based scholar since 2006 and in that time, I have produced PaR projects with both of my companies.

At present, I am developing and securing funding for an international immersive performance network, (IPN) in collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre and Dr Adam Alston at the University of Surrey.


Other activities

I am the producer and host of a monthly podcast series called Talking About Immersive Theatre (TAIT), where I travel around the UK meeting immersive theatre makers, producers and performers in their natural habitats to chat with them about all things immersive.

Founded by me in 2005, Vertical Exchange. (VEX) is a performance collective. Nigel Tuttle, Kirsty Mills and myself are the core members but we collaborate with a range of different artists, makers and practitioners depending on the project. We make work that is audience-centric; immediate, intimate and interactive.

KeepHouse Performance are a PaR company that seek to interrogate autobiography and heritage; particularly in relation to female representation and domesticity. KeepHouse Performance is a company that explores contemporary issues through interdisciplinary approaches. We are keen to record and document our processes in innovative and interactive ways. KeepHouse Performance was founded in 2011 by me and Dr Karen Savage.

UoB Admin role: Staff student committee liaison for Theatre Arts.

I am a member of TaPRA & IFTR.


Recent publications


Bucknall, J 2017, 'The "Reflective Participant," "(Remember)ing" and "(Remember)ance": A (Syn)aesthetic Approach to the Documentation of Audience Experience', PARtake: The Journal of Performance as Research, vol. 1, no. 2, 6. <http://scholar.colorado.edu/partake/vol1/iss2/6/>

Bucknall, JJ 2016, 'Liminoid invitations & liminoid acts: The role of ludic strategies & tropes in immersive and micro-performance dramaturgies', Performance Research, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 53-59. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2016.1192868

Bucknall, JJ 2012, 'You, hope, her & me: liminoid invitations and liminoid acts', Performing Ethos, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 139-154. https://doi.org/10.1386/peet.3.2.139_1

Bucknall, JJ 2007, 'Book Review: Making a performance: devising histories and contemporary practices', Platform, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 90-93.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Bucknall, J 2022, Selling Secrets: The role of "Elusivity" in the Liminoid Invitations of Immersive Theatre. in F Kerrigan & C Preece (eds), Marketing the Arts: Breaking Boundaries. 2nd edn, Routledge, pp. 139-154. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003021766-10


Bucknall, J & Sedgman, K 2017, Documenting audience experience: social media as lively stratification. in T Sant (ed.), Documenting Performance: The Context and Processes of Digital Curation and Archiving. 1st edn, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 113-130. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/documenting-performance-9781472588203/>

Bucknall, J 2017, The Daisy Chain Model: an approach to epistemic mapping and dissemination in performance based research. in A Arlander, B Barton, M Dreyer-Lude & B Spatz (eds), Performance as Research: Knowledge, methods, impact., Chapter 3, Routledge, pp. 50-74.

Bucknall, JJ 2015, Fossils: (re)enactment and ‘remembering’ as a mode of documentation. in New researchers' network 2nd annual symposium.

Bucknall, JJ & Savage, K 2015, Her, hats, my shoes re-visited. in Lincoln University Graduate School.

Bucknall, JJ & Savage, K 2014, KeepHouse Performance: her hat, my shoes : revisiting. in The impossible constellation. University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Bucknall, JJ 2014, The Daisy Chain Model’ an enunciative modality: epistemic mapping as a mode of performative documentation and dissemination of practice as research. in 2014 IFTR Conference.

Bucknall, JJ 2013, Performative re-enactment: the ontology of migrating from liveness to digitalisation in PaR documentation. in IFTR 2013.


Bucknall, J (ed.) 2023, Talking about Immersive Theatre: Conversations on Immersions and Interactivities in Performance. Theatre Makers, 1st edn, Bloomsbury Publishing. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350269361

Other contribution

Bucknall, J 2023, In your own words.. <https://immersiveexperience.network/esrc-report>

Bucknall, JJ 2014, Raising the ruins: re-enactment and remembering as a mode of documentation..

View all publications in research portal