Prof. Ross Brown, BA, FHEA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Prof. Ross Brown, BA, FHEA

Job title

Dean of School


An academic from a professional background in theatre practice, I have been part of Central’s senior leadership team since 2002. As Dean of School I have senior academic management oversight of Central’s Higher Education work.

Before Central, I went to art college in Farnham, Newcastle and Wisconsin, worked for a while in the commercial fine art sector and began to work creatively with sound in the mid-1980s. As a freelancer, I composed, designed and performed sound and music for Red Shift, The Shadow Syndicate, Glasgow Citizens, Shared Experience, Robert Sturua, Elijah Moshinsky, the RSC, Peter Hall Company, and many others. I collaborated in the composition of 23 silent movie scores, performing them live at festivals worldwide and have composed for puppetry, dance and BBC Radio Drama.

At Central my pedagogy and research have focussed on the dramaturgy and art of theatre sound. I designed and led the UK’s first BA and MA programmes in Theatre Sound Design (1994-2002). An early proponent of Practice as Research I was part of Central’s institutional move into funded Research in 1996. I am known for leading the emergence of theatre sound as a new international field of academic enquiry, through key workshops and seminars in Germany, Finland, USA, Canada, the Netherlands and Czech Republic. I presented the third London Theatre Seminar (On Noise, 2003), was a founder member of the TAPRA Scenography working group, and instigated the Theatre Sound Colloquium (National Theatre, 2002-2013). This led to the OISTAT Sound Design Working Group which has helped raise the profile and status of professional theatre sound internationally and prepared the way for an Association of Theatre Sound Designers (facilitated by Central). I have taught and advised on the discipline internationally from the Theatre Academy of Finland to the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Recent invited keynotes include: International Centre for Intermedial Research Conference, University of Montreal (2013); Baltic Circle Theatre Festival, Helsinki (2013); School of Sound, South Bank Centre, London (2011).


Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD)

Teaching Areas

  • Theatre aurality
  • Theatre sound
  • Scenography

Research Areas

  • The history of sound in theatre (in relation to dramaturgy and scenography)
  • The soundscape as theatre

PhD Supervision

  • Theatre aurality
  • History of sound in theatre

Key Publications

2016. ‘Bruit pittoresque / Cadres musicaux. La composition pittoresque et mélodramatique du son au théâtre’ in Le Son du Théâtre edited by J.M. Larrue and M.M. Mervant-Roux (Paris: CNRS Éditions), ISBN 978-2-271-09356-1, pp.135 – 162.

2016. ‘Fix Your eyes of the Horizon and Swing Your Ears About: Corwin’s Theatre of Sound’ in Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship, edited by Jacob Smith and Neil Verma (Oakland, University of California Press) pp. 171 – 194.

2016. ‘Changing Technologies of Stage Performance: Sound Design’ in The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, edited by Bruce R. Smith, (New York City, Cambridge University Press) pp. 1460 – 1467.

2015. ‘On Vibrate: The New Scenographic Picturesque’ in ‘Sounding out ‘the scenographic turn’: eight position statements, edited by Adrian Curtin & David Roesner for Theatre and Performance Design, 1:1-2, pp. 107-25,

2013. ‘The Human Auditorium’ in On Listening, edited by C. Lane and A. Carlyle (Axminster, Uniform Books), pp. 94–99.

2013. ‘The Eleventh of the Eleventh of the Eleventh: The Theatre of Memorial Silence’, in Soundscapes of the Urban Past: Staged Sound as Mediated Cultural Heritage, edited by K. Bijsterveld (Bielefeld, Transcript Verlag), pp. 209-221.

2011. ‘Towards Theatre NoiseTheatre Noise: The Sound of Performance, edited by L. Kendrick and D. Roesner (Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars), pp. 1-14.

2010. ‘Sound Design: the Scenography of Engagement and Distraction’ in Theatre and Performance Design: a Reader in Scenography, edited by J. Collins and A. Nisbett (London: Routledge), pp 340-348.

2010. Sound (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

2009. ‘Noise, Memory, Gesture: the Theatre in a Minute’s Silence’ in Performance, Embodiment & Cultural Memory, edited by R. Mock and C. Counsell, (Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars), pp 203-222.

2006. ‘The Theatre Soundscape and the End of Noise’, Performance Research, 10:4 ‘On Techne’, pp 105-119.


A summary of the impact of my research on the professional practices and pedagogies of theatre sound can be found in the impact case study submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Recent advisory work includes:

Peer Reviewer, AHRC Interdisciplinary Research Grants;

Specialist advisor to the Department for Education on criteria and specifications for Drama GCSE/A levels (2014);

Pedagogical consultancy for Theatre Academy of Finland (2013);

Academic advisor to Platform7’s ‘Silent Cacophony’ London-wide  programme of performance events on the theme of memorial silence, 11th November 2013; Selection committee for Towards a History of Theatre Sound, International Centre for Intermedial Research conference, University of Montreal, 2013;

Editorial Board for New Soundtrack Journal, Edinburgh University Press (ongoing)

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.