Photo of Professor Graham Ley

Professor Graham Ley

Emeritus Professor


Graham Ley taught drama in the Universities of London and Auckland as well as Exeter, and has directed and translated for the theatre. His particular interests lie in comparative performance theory, dramaturgy, performance in the ancient Greek theatre, and British Asian theatre. He held a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2000-2001, and was the award-holder for an AHRC-funded research project on the history of British Asian Theatre, active from October 2004 to March 2009 (and see Publications).

He is an editor of the series Performance Studies for the University of Exeter Press, and joint editor with Dr Jane Milling of Theatre and Performance Studies for Palgrave.

In July 2010 he was invited to give a keynote on British Asian Theatre at the conference Theater und Migration at the Comedia Theatre in Cologne. In January 2013 he was invited to contribute to one of a series of causeries at the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, as part of the activity surrounding the preparation of Alexandre Singh's work, The Humans.  In September 2014 he was asked to compile the timeline on the history of British Asian theatre production in London for the programme of the London revival of East Is East, at the Trafalgar Studios which opened in October.

In December 2014 he published Ancient Greek and Contemporary Performance: Collected Essays and Acting Greek Tragedy, a workshop-approach with an associated website:



  • Acting Greek Tragedy. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, (with the website 2015
  • Ancient Greek and Contemporary Performance: Collected Essays. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2014
  • Graham Ley and Sarah Dadswell (eds.) Critical Essays on British South Asian Theatre. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2012
  • Graham Ley and Sarah Dadswell (eds.) British South Asian Theatres: A Documented History. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2011
  • The Theatricality of Greek Tragedy: Playing-space and Chorus. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007
  • Graham Ley and Jane Milling Modern Theories of Performance: from Stanislavski to Boal. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001
  • From Mimesis to Interculturalism: Readings in Theatrical Theory before and after ‘Modernism. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1999
  • A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991 (revised edition, 2006)


  • ‘The Greek Chorus’, in Alexandre Singh, Causeries (forthcoming in 2017)
  • ‘Women in British Asian Theatre’, a chapter in Arya Madhavan (ed.), Women in Asian Performance (forthcoming from Routledge, 2016)
  • “Cultural Politics and Aesthetic Debate in Two Modern Versions of Aristophanes’ Frogs”, in Ancient Comedy and Reception, ed. by S.Douglas Olson. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014: 871-86
  • “Rehearsing Aristophanes”, in Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre, ed. by G.Harrison and V.Liapis. Leiden: Brill, 2013: 291-308
  •  “Theater und kulturelle Vielfalt in Grossbritannien. Eine Herausforderung fur die Kulturpolitik”, in W.Schneider (ed.) Theater und Migration. Koln: Bielefeld, 2011: 219-28
  •  “A Material World: Costume, Properties and Scenic Effects”, in M.Walton and M.McDonald (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to the Greek and Roman Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006: 268-85
  • "Modernism and Theatricality: A Problematic", in A.Eysteinsson and V.Liska (eds.) A Comparative History of Literature in European Languages: Modernism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007: 531-44
  • Translation, with theatrical commentary, of Philoctetes in M.Ewans, ed., Sophocles: Three Dramas of Old Age. London: Dent, 2000: 47-96 and 220-54
  • Translation, with theatrical commentary, of Young Women of Trachis in M.Ewans (ed.) Sophocles: Four Dramas of Maturity. London: Dent, 1999: 85-125 and 242-66

Edited journals

  • Guest editor with Dr Sarah Dadswell, “British South Asian Theatres and the Global South Asian Diaspora”, South Asian Popular Culture 3.7 (2009), 161-245
  • Guest editor with Prof Baz Kershaw, “Beyond Postmodernism”, Contemporary Theatre Review 3.18 (2008), 287-408


  • ‘Towards a Theoretical History for Greek Tragedy’, New Theatre Quarterly 31.2 (2015), pp.144-63
  • ‘Cultural Adaptation’, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance 8.1 (2015), pp.23-38
  • ‘Varifocalism’, New Theatre Quarterly 30.3 (2014), pp.268-73
  • “A Theoretical History for Greek Tragedy”, in preparation for New Theatre Quarterly (2015)
  • “Cultural Adaptation”, currently being read by the editors for publication in the new section ‘Provocations’ of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance (2015)
  • “Varifocalism: A Perspective on the Discipline of Theatre Studies”, New Theatre Quarterly 119 (2014), 268-73
  • “Diaspora Space, the Regions, and British Asian Theatre”, New Theatre Quarterly 107 (2011), 215-28
  • “Composing a History: Problematics of the British Asian Research Project at Exeter”, Studies in Theatre and Performance 30.2 (2010), 225-232
  • “Discursive Embodiment: The Theatre as Adaptation”, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance 2.3 (2009), 201-209
  • “The Nameless and the Named: Techne and Technology in the Ancient Athenian Theatre”, Performance Research 10.4 (2005), 97-104
  • “Re-reading Stephen Sewell’s Traitors: Ideology and Gender in the Australian Play”, Modern Drama 48.1 (2005), 108-17
  • "Modern Visions of Greek Tragic Dancing", Theatre Journal 55.3 (2003), 467-80
  • "Aristotle's Poetics, Bharatamuni's Natyasastra, and Zeami's Treatises: Theory as Discourse", Asian Theatre Journal 17.2 (2000), 191-214
  • "Performance and Performatives", Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 13.1 (1998), 5-18
  • "Theatre of Migration and the Search for a Multicultural Aesthetic: Twenty Years of Tara Arts", New Theatre Quarterly 52 (1997), 349-71
  • "The Significance of Diderot", New Theatre Quarterly 44 (1995), 342-54
  • "Performance Studies and Greek Tragedy", Eranos 92 (1994), 29-45
  • “Monody, Choral Song, and Athenian Festival Performance", Maia xlv.2 (1993), 105-24
  • "The Rhetoric of Theory: the Role of Metaphor in Peter Brook's The Empty Space", New Theatre Quarterly 35 (1993), 246-54
  • "Scenic Notes on Euripides' Helen", Eranos 89 (1991), 25-34
  • "Sacred Idiocy: the Avant-garde as Alternative Establishment", New Theatre Quarterly 28 (1991), 348-52
  • "Agatharchos, Aeschylus, and the Construction of a skene", Maia xli.1 (1989), 35-38
  • "A Scenic Plot of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes", Eranos 86 (1988), 85-115
  • "Entrances from the Central Door in Tragedy", Maia xxix.1 (1987), 25-7
  • "On the Pressure of Circumstance in Greek Tragedy", Ramus 15.1 (1986), 43-51
  • Graham Ley and Peter Fitzpatrick, "New Developments in Australian Theatre", New Theatre Quarterly II.5 (1986), 54-96
  • Graham Ley and Michael Ewans, "The orchestra as Acting-area in Greek Tragedy", Ramus 14.2 (1985), 75-84
  • "Hypokrinesthai in Homer and Herodotus, and the Function of the Athenian Actor", Philologus 127.1 (1983), 13-29