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Elizabeth Freestone

Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Shakespeare's Extinction: Staging What Has Been Lost

I am researching ecodramaturgical readings of Shakespeare plays, viewing his work as a survival guide for the end times.

Research Area

  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Theatre and History


Public Engagement & Impact

  • Symposium, Casting Shakespeare, University of Southampton
  • Interval Drinks podcast for the Royal Shakespeare Company, in conversation with Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society: Elizabeth Freestone and Liz Bentley | Interval Drinks (podbean.com)
  • Seminar, Ecocritical Tempest, University of Lille
  • Speaker, Shakespeare Institute, Directing The Tempest
  • Speaker, Creative Carbon Scotland, The role of narrative in the climate crisis
  • Keynote speaker, Westminster Forum, The impact of live screenings on live theatre
  • Front Row, BBC Radio 4: Rural touring and the theatre ecology
  • Speaker, Cheltenham Literary Festival, Playwriting form and structure
  • Speaker, Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, Interpreting Shakespeare
  • I am a trustee on the board of Theatre By The Lake, where I chair the Artistic sub-committee. 
  • I am a trustee on the board of the National Rural Touring Forum, where I chair the Environmental sub-committee.

Other Research Interests

  • The art and poetry of landscape
  • Ecology, re-wilding and biodiversity
  • Climate justice
  • Biosemiotics


  • ASLE-UKI (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
  • The Society of Authors


  • Teacher, European Theatre, University of Warwick
  • Shakespeare lecturer, Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust
  • Playwriting tutor, Cambridge University Mst Writing for Performance
  • Practitioner, Open University Literature course
  • I have taught undergraduates and post-graduates at most UK drama schools including LAMDA, Guildhall, Urdang, Bristol Old Vic, Central and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama


  • Director on Attachment, National Theatre Studio
  • Artist in Residence, National Theatre Studio


I am also a theatre director. 

Recent productions include: The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Nora: A Doll’s House at the Young Vic in London and the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, for which I was nominated for a Broadway World Best Director award; Queen Margaret at the Royal Exchange, Manchester; Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, and The Rape of Lucrece for the RSC which opened at the Edinburgh International Festival before touring worldwide including Sydney Festival, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Curitiba, London South Bank Centre, Cork Opera House and across Europe. Other productions include Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare's Globe and European tour; House and Garden at the Watermill; and The Duchess of Malfi, Volpone, A School for Scandal and Dr Faustus at Greenwich Theatre. 

Leadership roles include: Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Pentabus Theatre Company, an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (2012-16); Associate Director for English Touring Theatre (2018-19) advising on policy and programming; Associate Artist for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (2019-21) advising on vision and programming.

I have developed and directed numerous new plays, given dramaturgical support on a range of projects, and read and advised on script development for many theatre companies.


Ecology training: Level One Ecology and Habitat Management

Volunteer for British Trust for Ornithology, Breeding Bird Survey

Volunteer for Pensthorpe Trust, Corncrake Reintroduction Project