Prof Christopher Balme BA, PhD, Dr.phil.habil | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Prof. Christopher Balme, BA, PhD, Dr.phil.habil

Job title

Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Theatre, Chair of Theatre Studies at LMU Munich


I am a New Zealand-born scholar of theatre and performance studies based at LMU Munich. I did my undergraduate study in German and drama at the Universities of Auckland, Otago and Munich. I obtained my PhD at Otago and then moved to Germany where I have lived since 1985. My work in Germany was initially supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (postdoctoral). I have held a number of positions in Germany at universities in Würzburg, Munich and Mainz. From 2004 to 2006 I was chair of theatre studies at the University of Amsterdam before returning to Munich in 2006 when I took up my current position.

Since the late 1980s my research has been heavily focused on colonial and postcolonial theatre. This work led to my postdoctoral thesis which was initially published in German and later in English as Decolonizing the Stage (OUP 1999). Performing the Pacific (Palgrave 2007) looked at performative encounters in Oceania since first contact. I have also invested heavily in introductory books for students of theatre studies. An introduction to theatre studies in German was published in 1999 and is now in its 5th revised edition. An English adaptation was published with CUP in 2008 and has been translated into five languages.

My work has attracted major research funding from national and European funding bodies. I directed a six-year project on Global Theatre Histories funded by the German Research Society (DFG) and in 2016 I was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant for a project entitled ‘Developing Theatre: Building Expert Networks for Theatre in Emerging Countries after 1945’.

I am immediate past-president of IFTR and have edited the journal Theatre Research International. I currently edit the Journal Forum Modernes Theater, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes in both German and English and co-Edit the online Journal of Global Theatre History.

I am very active as a speaker and in the past three years have given keynotes and invited lectures at Tel Aviv, New Delhi, Malta, Heidelberg, Bangkok, Athens, Turin, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Teaching Areas

  • Theatre and economics
  • History of dramatic forms
  • Theatre and cultural value
  • Reception studies

Research Areas

  • Postcolonial theatre and performance
  • Theatre and globalization
  • Theatre and the public sphere
  • Theatre as an institution
  • Theatre and intermediality

PhD Supervision

I have supervised 26 PhDs and 6 six postdoctoral theses (Habilitation) to date. I am currently supervising 9 PhD candidates on topics ranging from performance art in Yugoslavia to the theatre of Milo Rau.


2017. A Cultural History of Theatre. co-edited with Tracy C. Davis. 6 vols. (London: Bloomsbury).

2017. Theatre, Globalization and the Cold War. co-edited with Berenika Szymanski-Düll (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

2015. ‘A Cultural History of Theatre: A Prospectus’. Co-authored with Tracy C. Davis. Theatre Survey, 56, pp. 402-421.

2015. The Bandmann Circuit: Theatrical Networks in the First Age of Globalization. Theatre Research International, 40.1, pp. 19-36.

2014. The Theatrical Public Sphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

2014. Einführung in die Theaterwissenschaft. (Berlin: Erich Schmidt). 5th revised edn.

2008. Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

2007. Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

1999. Decolonizing the Stage: Theatrical Syncretism and Post-Colonial Drama. (Oxford: Clarendon Press).


Since my student days I have been heavily involved in directing student productions. In the early 1990s I set up Munich’s first professional improvisatory theatre group Fastfood Theater, which still operates.

I occasionally write programme essays for the Bavarian State Opera.

I have a twenty-year connection with Munich’s bi-annual experimental theatre festival Spielart and have over the years moderated many discussions with artists, among others Jerôme Bel, Forced Entertainment, Gob Squad, Rimini Protokoll, Jan Lauwers. In 2016 I published a major article in the daily Die Süddeutsche Zeitung on the current controversies surrounding artistic directors in Berlin and Munich.

In 2015 I wrote, recorded and presented a six-episode MOOC for Cousera on the topic of Theatre and Globalization with 5,176 enrolments and 23,696 video downloads on its first run. It is now available on demand.

I also direct a continuing education programme on theatre management for young professionals that has been operating since 2008.

Register of Interest

I am chairman of the board of the international guesthouse and conference centre (IBZ), an independent charity supported by LMU Munich, TU Munich and the Max-Planck Society.

I am on the advisory board of the international research centre Interweaving Performance Cultures at FU Berlin.

I am also a fellow and member of the advisory board of the Centre for Advanced Studies at LMU Munich.