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Gheorghe Williams

Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

The Political Gothic and Twenty-First Century British Theatre

My doctoral research project is a study of how Gothic modes have been adopted and adapted by contemporary British playwrights in political dramas since the turn of the century. The project builds upon the growing body of work by scholars such as Kelly Jones, Jeffrey N. Cox and Emma McEvoy, who in recent years have laid foundations for acknowledging Gothic theatre as a vibrant and vital yet continually understudied field. I explore how the Gothic in contemporary performance–with its irrealist and fragmentary strategies, uncanny returns, and engagements with the political power of “transgressive” emotions such as terror and rage–provides a strikingly relevant theatrical vocabulary for exploring some of the most pressing sociopolitical debates in twenty-first century Britain. My thesis is divided into four thematic chapters, each representing a range of urgent social and political issues which have been keenly addressed by political theatre over the last two decades, but whose relations to and resonations with the Gothic have gone unaccounted for: ‘Nation’, ‘Nature’, ‘Gender & Sexuality’, and ‘Race’. I am particularly interested in the work of debbie tucker green, Caryl Churchill, Alistair McDowall, Martin McDonagh, Stef Smith, Mike Bartlett, Rona Munro, and theatre companies such as Imitating the Dog, Proper Job, and DARKFIELD.

Research Area

  • Drama and Theatre Studies



  • '"It's not the animals drawing blood": Staging the Ecogothic in Stef Smith's Human Animals', Drama and Theatre Arts Virtual PGR Symposium, University of Birmingham (3 June 2020).
  • 'Dorian Gray's Anatomy: Augmented Masculinities and Mental Health in Proper Job Theatre Company's Adaptation of Dorian Gray'Reimagining the Gothic 2020: Bodies and Genders, Sheffield University (accepted May 2020; postponed due to COVID-19).
  • 'Gothic Dramaturgy: Mary Shelley as Spectral Dramatist in Rona Munro's Adaptation of Frankenstein'Progressive Connexions: Spirituality and the Supernatural, February 2021 (Online).
  • 'Performing the Unspeakable: Gothic Theatricalities as a Language for Communicating the Aftermath of Sexual Trauma', Gothic Spectacle and Spectatorship, Lancaster University (1 June 2019).
  • Panel Chair, 'The Gothic, Truth and Control', Gothflix, Lancaster University, 1-2 February 2020
  • Panel Chair, 'Music and Society', Midlands4Cities Digital Research Festival, 13-14 July 2020
  • Panel Chair, 'New Approaches to Jazz Studies', Midlands4Cities Digital Research Festival, 13-14 July 2020
  • Panel Chair, 'Historical Theatre and Performance Cultures', Midlands Network of Popular Culture: Midlands Academic Lecture series, 2 December 2020
  • Panel Chair, 'Otherness, Healing and Community', Progressive Connexions: Spirituality and the Supernatural, 20-21 February 2020

Public Engagement & Impact

Research featured in the Westmere Images of Research 2019 Exhibition: 'Gothic Theatre Audiences', and a spectral photograph taken from the stalls in a 2019 production of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.

Other Research Interests

As well as Gothic Theatre, I enjoy studying literary and cinematic Gothic/Horror, particularly in relation to the Posthuman. More widely, I am interested in Practice-as-Research pedagogies, theatre-making in education, and the applications of theatre/live performance to social and cultural progress for the LGBTQIA+ communities.


  • International Gothic Association (IGA)
  • The Society for Theatre Research (STR)

Other Activities

  • Co-Founder, Administrator and Co-Treasurer, Midlands Network of Popular Culture
  • Birmingham University SAF Representative (2020-2021), Midlands4Cities Student Advisory Forum
  • Co-Organiser of Creative Showcase, Midlands4Cities 2020 Digital Research Festival
  • Drama Editor (2018-2019), The Bubble Durham