Dr. Tony Fisher, BA, MA, PhD | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Dr Tony Fisher, BA, MA, PhD

Job title

Reader in Theatre and Philosophy, Associate Director of Research (Research Degrees)


I am a theatre academic and researcher but also have a highly interdisciplinary background – first having trained in fine art then film-making, before going on to study philosophy, writing my doctoral thesis on problems of history and phenomenology in Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. I also worked as a scriptwriter for several years in the UK film industry and have an ongoing interest in making experimental documentary film.

Having grown up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne during the dark days of Thatcherism, I sought refuge in the Tyneside Cinema where I first developed a love for European cinema. I went on to study fine art before moving to New York, where I studied with some extraordinary teachers at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s prestigious Independent Study Programme, such as Hal Foster, Yvonne Rainer and Ron Clark. It was during my time in New York that I encountered theatre and performance for the first time – particularly through the work of the Wooster Group. Returning to the UK, I became involved in film-making before returning to higher education, eventually going on to complete a PhD in philosophy at the University of Essex. I first began teaching as a visiting tutor at Northumbria University and Middlesex in their fine art departments, then as a sessional lecturer teaching philosophy at Birkbeck before taking up a full-time post at Central in 2007. At Central, I teach MA students dramatic writing, dramaturgy, and theatre history as well as, for the PhD programme, research skills and methods.

As a researcher, I am particularly involved with the Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group at TaPRA where, until recently, I was a co-convenor, as well as the Performance Philosophy network. I have published work in various journals that explores intersections of philosophy, performance and theatre history. I have recently completed a monograph that examines – in the form of a ‘critical history’ or genealogy - the long and profound influence that government had on the development of the modern European stage. I am co-editor of a 2016 collection, Performing Antagonism: Theatre, Performance and Radical Democracy that looks at problems of political performance by drawing on the insights of post-Marxist political philosophy and the theory of agonistic democracy. Two further edited collections are in the pipeline: one of the ways in which Michel Foucault continues to influence theatre and performance scholarship; and the other on performance and failure.


Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD)

Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media, MA/MFA

Teaching Areas

  • Film and theatre
  • Contemporary and classical dramaturgies
  • Cultural and political histories of the stage
  • Theatre and philosophy
  • Research skills and methods

Research Areas

  • Theatre and continental philosophy
  • Performance philosophy
  • Democracy and theatre
  • The cultural, social and political history of the stage
  • Theatre, the public sphere and the State

PHD Supervision

I have supervised 9 PhD theses across a range of areas, including: cinema and violence, postdramatic theatre and deconstruction, Heideggerian readings of clown practice and comic performance, Deleuze and Blast Theory, philosophical approaches to actor training, radical pedagogies and political performance. I currently supervise projects on the phenomenology of radio listening and its dramaturgical implications and rehearsal-based approaches to film training. I have examined 5 PhDs in the UK on areas including the politics of visual art, collaborative labour in contemporary performance practices, and the work of art as stage.

Key Publications

2017. Theatre and Governance in Britain, 1500-1900, Democracy, Disorder and the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2017. Performing Antagonism: Theatre, Performance and Radical Democracy, co-edited with Eve Katsouraki, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

2015. ‘Thinking without Authority – Performance Philosophy as the Democracy of Thought’, Performance Philosophy Journal, 1, pp.175-184.

2014. Cultural Value, The Value of Subsidised, Commercial and Amateur Theatre and Dance for Tyneside’s Audiences, AHRC report co-authored with Joshua Edelman and Maja Sorli.

2013. ‘Castellucci’s Theatre of the ‘Abject/Sublime’: or, the Theatre of Failed Transcendence’, Somatechnics 3.1, pp. 31-49.

2012. Rehearsing Boal, co-authored with Joel Anderson in bilingual volume Theater und Subjektkonstitution / Theatre and the Making of Subjects, based on the proceedings of the Kongress der Gesellschaft für Theaterwissenschaft conference in Mainz.

2011, ‘Radical Democratic Theatre’, Performance Research, 16.4 On Philosophy and Participation (Winter), pp.15-26.

2011. ‘Aesthetics and the Political – an essay on Francis Alys’s “Green Line” Cultural Critique, Issue #78 (Spring).


2013.  Director, Zdenka’s Journey – an experimental documentary that follows one woman’s journey through the nightmare of the Holocaust (ongoing).

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.