Dr Joshua Abrams, SB, SB, MA, PhD, SFHEA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Dr Joshua Abrams, SB, SB, MA, PhD, SFHEA

Job title

Director of Learning & Teaching


While I don’t seek comparison with Eugene O’Neill or Danjuro X, I too was born into the theatre. My first onstage appearance was in utero, and I was showing off (or rather shown off to colleagues of my parents) on the New York State Theatre stage on my way home from the hospital immediately after being born. My first professional credit was age 3 as Trouble in Madama Butterfly and the only trouble from then was keeping me off the stage.

I left the theatre behind when I went to MIT for university, although I realised midway through my degree that I could double major in Business and Theatre, and I obtained professional and semi-professional directing and design credits in the Boston area. After university, I went to work on Wall Street as an economic consultant, until being pulled back to an MA in theatre at Brown University and a PhD at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. My PhD was on ethical philosophy and contemporary American theatre and performance, across vectors of identity politics, and I continued to work and publish in that area in my first two post-PhD jobs at the Universities of Hull and Roehampton, which brought me to the UK.

Over the past five years, I’ve brought another passion to my research—my obsession with food and food culture(s). I’m finishing a book on restaurants as performance spaces, and publish and speak widely in this area, including recent keynotes at the Culinary Institute of America and Performance Studies international conference. I also received a 2013 AHRC CreativeWorks Fellowship for my “Decade Dinners” project and funding through the Being Human Festival for a one-day symposium titled “Memory Banquet: Food and Acts of Remembering” in 2014.

Alongside my research, I seek to provide service to and curate within the discipline. I am currently the President-Elect for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). I was 2016 Conference Co-Organiser for the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) 2016 annual conference and previously served as Vice President for Conference for ATHE, as well as co-founding the ATHE Performance Studies Focus Group Preconference, which has been running since 2003. I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and review applications for the HEA.

Areas of Expertise

  • Food and Performance
  • Contemporary/Experimental Performance
  • Ethics and/of Performance
  • Performance and Philosophy
  • Theatre and Religion
  • Identity Politics and Performance
  • American Theatre
  • Solo Performance
  • Performance and Politics

PHD Supervision

I have supervised 5 PhD theses to completion across a range of areas, including: memory and performance, religion and theatre, dramatic texts and contemporary adaptation, contemporary experimental performance, and identity politics. I currently supervise projects on food and the performance of sustainability, religious practice and performance, theatre and pragmatic linguistics, and identity politics in British modernism. I have examined 2 PhDs and 1 MPhil.

Key Publications

2019. Feeding the Senses: The Contemporary Chef and the Theatre of the Restaurant (forthcoming, Routledge Press)

2018. “Sriracha and the Performance of Identity” Fonds of Food: Sauces and Identity in the Western World, edited by Andrew Donnelly, Beth Forrest and Deirdre Murphy (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)

2018. “Towards an Ecological Dramaturgy of Dining: Landscape as a Plating Device and Sustainability” Theatre Research International (forthcoming)

2017. “Gloss: Esprit de Corps”; “On Scale”; “Gloss: Realism”; “Th’eater” in Imagined Theatres: Writing for a Theoretical Stage, edited by Daniel Sack (Routledge)

2017. “Trumping Taste: On the Gustatory and the Rise of the Post-FactualPerformance Research (forthcoming)

2017. “Food and Performance” Entry in Oxford Research Encyclopedia (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)

2017. “On Oysters” in sketch, Mourad Mazouz and Pierre Gagnaire, (Bloomsbury Press)

2015. “Design and Décor of Restaurants” in Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues, edited by Ken Albala (Sage Publications, Inc.)

2013. “Performing the Ephemeral: On Ice Cream and the Theatre”, Performance Research, On Ice, 18.6 (December)

2013. “Mise en Plate: The Scenographic Imagination and the Contemporary Restaurant”, Performance Research, On Scenography, 18.2 (September)

2013. “Affective Presents/Effective Presence: Intensity, Futurity, and the Theatrical Politics of the Child” Performance, Identity and the Neo-Political Subject, edited by Matthew Causey and Fintan Walsh (Routledge)

2012. “Reflecting on ATHE’s Silver: Archiving Conference Curation and the State of the Field”, Theatre Topics 22 (March)

2011. “The Ubiquitous Orange Jumpsuit: Performance, Protest and the Public Sphere” Commissioned for Patriotic Dissent, edited by Jenny Spencer (Routledge)

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.