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Professor Jane Collins

Professor of Theatre and Performance
University of the Arts London
Researcher Research
Jane  Collins


Jane Collins is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Wimbledon. She is a writer, director and theatre-maker who works all over the UK and internationally. She has a long association with the continent of Africa; and for The Royal Court, with the National Theatre of Uganda, she co-directed Maama Nalukalala N_dezze Lye (‘Mother Courage and her Children’) by Bertolt Brecht, with a Ugandan cast in Kampala. This production, which was the first official translation of a play by Brecht into an African language, toured internationally. Her AHRC-funded research into ‘performing identities’ resulted in a new work for the stage, The Story of the African Choir, which was developed in conjunction containing the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg and performed at the Grahamstown International Festival in 2007.

She co-edited Theatre and Performance Design: a Reader in Scenography, published by Routledge in March 2010. This book, with over 52 texts, is the first of its kind in this field.

In 2009, Collins restaged the award-winning Ten Thousand Several Doors for the Brighton International Festival and her essay on this production will be included in the forthcoming collection, Performing Site-Specific: Politics, Place, Practice, edited by Anna Birch and Joanne Tompkins, to be published by Palgrave in 2012. She was one of a group of artists who participated in re:searching – Playing in the Archive, an exhibition at the ING Bank in the city of London in May 2010, in response to the Baring Archive. In 2010, she also created the soundscape to accompany the Space and Light: Edward Gordon Craig Exhibition which opened at the V&A in London in September that year. Edward Gordon Craig is credited with being the founder of modern stage design and to coincide with the exhibition, Collins convened Edward Gordon Craig: His Legacy, a multidisciplinary conference at the Sackler Centre. An edited version of this is available on UAL Research Online. Space and Light transferred to Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera in Prague in May 2011, as part of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2011.

My research continues to focus on performance and practice-based research methodologies which re-engage the ‘theatrical’ as a means of interrogating contemporary society.

In 2007, I wrote an article for Studies in Theatre and Performance which examined the efficacy of performance as a means of investigating the construction of post-colonial identities through the ‘staging’ of an African ‘past’. One aspect of this research was an analysis of the scenographic framing of African performance for western audiences. Among the many outcomes of this process was the identification of a dearth of material with which to critically interrogate the visual aspects of performance and scenography in general.

Theatre and Performance Design, a reader in scenography aims to fulfil this need and continues to be the main focus of my research as a practitioner and in my critical writing.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council, Indian Diaspora and Cultural Heritage, £28,231.98, (2020-2020)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Performing Romani Identities: Strategy and Critique, £35,953.96, (2014-2015)
  • British Council, Sceneography in a digital age: A comparative study of the impact of new media on contemporary Indian and British performance practice, £27,238.62, (2013-2015)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Umuntu, Ngumuntu, Ngabantu: The Story of African Choir, 1891-1893. Performing Identities in Victorian Britain, £16,332.00, (2007-2008)

Research Outputs

Art/Design item



Current research students

  • David Blanar, Preserving Contemporary Immersive Theatre (Lead supervisor)
  • Pamela Jikiemi-Pearson, (Un)Equal Opportunities? Actor Training and Race in Great Britain, 1975 – 2018. (Lead supervisor)

Past research students

  • Esther Armstrong, A scenographic analysis of emergent British 'national' identity, on the stages of the National Theatre between 1995-2005. (Lead supervisor)
  • Katie Barford, A Practice-Led Investigation of the Significance of Costumed-Bodies through a Study of Tanztheater Wuppertal. (Lead supervisor)
  • Victoria Gray, "Towards a Kinesthetic Universe: Mechanisms of affective perception and the politics of affective registers in performance and writing." (Lead supervisor)
  • Francesca Peschier, Theatre Design in Regional Theatre: Realising the Visual at The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse 2003 – 2015. (Lead supervisor)
  • June Rowe, Sculpting Beauty; A Cultural Analysis of Mannequin Design and the Shaping of Fashionable Feminine Silhouettes. (Lead supervisor)
  • Scott Louis Schwager, The Relationship between Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Curatorial Areas: Implications for Collaboration and Co-authorship. (Lead supervisor)
  • Patricia Scott-Cumming, Socialising the Archive: Art and the Archival Encounters. (Lead supervisor)