Sherrill Gow | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Sherrill Gow

Project Title

Towards a Feminist Pedagogical Practice for the Musical Theatre Performer in Conservatoire Training


Tom Cornford


This research investigates the feminist potential of musical theatre and asks how feminist interpretations of this repertoire might be activated in the conservatoire rehearsal room. It argues that the culture of musical theatre training exhibits a lack of critical pedagogy, and centres on how a feminist pedagogical approach can begin to address this gap.

My purpose in engaging a feminist pedagogy is twofold: first, I argue that critical approaches facilitate learning the craft of acting; secondly, I propose that these approaches are necessary to address, challenge, and interpret the ways in which women and other marginalised groups are represented in musical theatre.

New knowledge is offered in the intersection of feminist pedagogy and feminist critiques of musical theatre, as well as in the application of feminist pedagogical approaches to the conservatoire setting, which is distinct from other liberal arts environments due to the musical theatre repertoire and analysis through practice.

Through this practice research, I have developed an interpretive feminist strategy that suggests ways in which performers and director-trainers can negotiate the wide-ranging repertoire of musical theatre and realize its feminist potential. This strategy is activated across several case studies using a range of methods, then analysed to determine how feminist theories and practices can be mobilized in musical theatre training processes.

This research contributes to the burgeoning field of musical theatre scholarship by demonstrating new, practical applications that build on existing feminist critiques of the repertoire. Finally, this thesis articulates how, through feminist pedagogy, the theoretical and political reframing of musical theatre has the potential to develop experiential knowledge that resists the form’s hegemonic and conservative characteristics. 


Originally from Canada, I have been living in London since 2000. I am a director and teacher, skilled in a range of acting methodologies and theatre-making techniques. I have recently been appointed Joint Head of the MA in Performance (Musical Theatre and Acting Pathways) at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. I have also taught at Central, Kingston University, University of East London and Arts Educational Schools London. I trained at  The Boston Conservatory, where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre with an emphasis in directing, and completed a Master of Arts in Actor Training and Coaching from The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  


2017, Director, Pippin, Bernie Grant Arts Centre 

2017, Associate Director, The Knowledge(dir. Maureen Lipman), Charing Cross Theatre 

2016, Director,  love and information, Lyric Hammersmith, (Lyric Young Company) 

2016, Director,  Anne of Green Gables, Unicorn Theatre 

2015, Director,  Nymph Errant, Mountview, (in-house) 

2015, Director,  Red the Wolf Slayer!  The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2014, Director,  Sweet Charity, Mountview, (in-house) 

2014, Co-director,  MIL-STD-1815, George Wood Theatre,  Au Brana Cultural Centre, Creative Development Residency (2013) 

2014, Director,  The Twee Musketeers, The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2013, Director,  The Wish!,  The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2012, Creative Producer,  The Hit, site-specific, Hotel Indigo, Tower Hill 

2012, Director,  Sleeping Cutie! Wake up Little Snoozy, The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2011, Associate Director,  One Snowy Night, National Tour, Slot Machine and Seabright Productions 

2010, Director,  Bittergirl, King’s Head Theatre 

2010, Director,  On Our Street, promenade and site-specific, Story of London Festival 

Key Publications

2016 ‘The Hit: Can Art and Commercial Promotion Coexist?’ In Framing Immersive Theatre and Performance, edited by James Frieze (Co-authored with Merryn Owen. Palgrave).

2016 '"There's gotta be something better than this": Challenging the role of big emotion in the transition from speech to song', Studies in Musical Theatre, 10:1, pp. 133-41.

Conference presentations

2017 ‘Referencing as a rehearsal tool for reclaiming a feminist text,’ Intersections – The annual postgraduate conference of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London 

2016 ‘When Stanislavski Encounters the Conventions of Musical Theatre’, The S Word: Stanislavski and the future of Acting, an international symposium, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance

2016 ‘Experiment: Reflections on Cole Porter’s Nymph Errant’, Intersections – The annual postgraduate conference of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

2015 ‘There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This: Challenging the role of big emotion in the transition from speech to song’, Collisions Festival, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

Academic events organised

2014 Symposium Co-organiser, ‘Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance’, the 50th anniversary conference of Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB-50), Goldsmiths, University of London

Teaching areas/expertise

  • A range of Stanislavski-based approaches to acting
  • Acting through Song
  • Bogart & Landau’s Viewpoints and Composition
  • Directing
  • Methods of Devising Performance
  • Scene-to-Song
  • Sight Reading
  • Solo Performance
  • Text Analysis
  • MA Supervision