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Dr Kara Reilly

Senior Lecturer


01392 722421

Dr Kara Reilly, Senior Lecturer, Drama

Kara Reilly is a theatre historian and dramaturg. She specialises in intersections between the history of theatre and the history of science and technology, adaptation studies and gender/ queer theory.

Her edited collection Contemporary Approaches to Adaptation in Theatre (2017) has seventeen case studies and explores a range of international adaptations in international Anglophone Drama.  

Her edited collection, Theatre, Performance and Analogue Technology (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013) examines a wide range of spectacular pre-digital technologies from sparring mechanical elephants to Proust's theatre phone, from cyborg ballet dancers to Pepper's ghost, from hair raising electrical experiments to automaton monks.

Her book Automata and Mimesis on the Stage of Theatre History (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011) focuses upon automata or self-moving mechanical puppets and their influence upon theatre history and intellectual history from the Renaissance to the end of the First World War.

Her current monograph project Adapting the Operating Theatres examines contemporary stagings of historical ‘freak’ bodies in museums and onstage.  

She is the co-editor of Palgrave's Adaptation in Theatre and Performance book series. 

She is also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Other publications include:

"Robot Performers," Deep Time of the Theatre, Ed. Nele Wynants (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2017)

“Yukio Mishima’s Hypermasculinity,” Vanguards Perfromance Beyond Right and Left, Ed. Kimberly Jannarone (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016).

“Two Venuses: Performing Anatomical Beauty in the Service of Empire” Performance ResearchSpecial Issue on Medicine. Edited by Martin O’Brien and Gianna Bouchard. Forthcoming 2014.

“The Tiller Girls: Mass Ornament or Modern Girl?” Theatre, Performance and Analogue Technology, Ed. Kara Reilly (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013).

“The Rape of Lavinia: The Restoration Actress’s Body in Pain.” Staging Pain in Early Modern England. Ed. James Allard (Ashgate, 2009).

“George Pierce Baker: A Century of Teaching Playwriting” Contemporary Theatre Review, Special        Issue on the Pedagogy of Playwriting, (23.2) 2013.

“Puppetry of the Spectacle: Royal de luxe’s Giants” Puppetry International Special Issue on Mega-Puppets. Fall 2007.

“Hélène Cixous’s Second Innocence” Feminism/os. Summer 2006.                                        

“A Collage Reality (Re)Made: The Postmodern Dramaturgy of Charles L. Mee” American Drama. Summer 2005.

Book & Performance Reviews

“Liz Tomlin’s Acts and Apparitions,” Contemporary Theatre Review. Spring 2014

“The Wooster Group’s Troilus and Cressida,” Theatre Journal. Summer 2013.

“Minsoo Kang’s Sublime Dreams of Living Machines,” Technology and Culture, Summer 2012.

“Rose Whyman’s Stanislavski System of Acting,” New Theatre Quarterly, Nov 2009.

“Simon Shepherd’s Theatre, Body, Pleasure,” New Theatre Quarterly, April 2008.

David Hare’s The Vertical Hour,” Theatre Journal, December 2007.


Research interests

Kara Reilly is a theatre historian and dramaturg.

She is interested in intersections between science and technology in theatre and in cultural performance. She is also a dramaturg and a director and specializes in Adaptation Studies.



Modules taught


Kara is a Senior Lecturer in Drama. Before coming to Exeter, she worked as a Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts. Kara holds a PhD from University of Washington in  Theatre History and Dramatic Literature, a Master's Degree from New York University's Performance Studies Department, and a Bachelor's degree from Kent State University (magna cum laude).

Before working academia, Kara was a freelance professional dramaturg in Cleveland (Cleveland Playhouse, Great Lakes Theatre Festival), New York (La Mama), Seattle (Freehold Studio Theatre).