Photo of Professor Cathy Turner

Professor Cathy Turner

Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance


01392 722426

Cathy's research principally concerns dramaturgies of place and space. 

I am currently researching the politics of performance festivals in South India, and the ways in which they respond to urbanization. This is a collaboration with NIAS, Bengaluru and MOD Institute, an interdisciplinary urban action and research institute, Berlin/Bengaluru. More information can be accessed here (and will grow as the project develops):

My other current research concerns gardens as spaces of performance, moving beyond the familiar image of outdoor theatre to investigate automata, hired hermits, naumachia, rituals, entertainments, performance art and much more. Gardens and performance have expressed and continue to express our relationship with the non-human, as well as with each other, through a spectrum of performance activities. 

I am always interested in walking performances, and am a core member of artists' collective, Wrights & Sites.

Key publications include Dramaturgy and Architecture: Theatre, Utopia and The Built Environment (2015), nominated for the TAPRA David Bradby award, 2017; Dramaturgy and Performanc, 2nd Edition (2016), with Synne Behrndt; A Mis-Guide to Anywhere (2006) with Wrights & Sites - one of a series of published 'Mis-Guides' which provide provocations for disrupted walking.

I welcome PhDs on walking art, performance and landscape, performance and architecture, Indian performance art, dramaturgy and performance writing.

My research blog can be found at

Information on Wrights & Sites can be found at



Research interests

My research concerns the relationship between dramaturgies of performance and experiences of place and space. 

I published my monograph, Dramaturgy and Architecture: Theatre, Utopia and the Built Environment with Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. My current interests grow out of this exploration of relationships between the development of architecture and performance in modernist and postmodernist performance and out of my research into aesthetic walking (scholarly and artistic practice).

I am now interested in performance, walking and urbanisation in India, involving appreciation and analysis of Indian performance artists' relationships to urban spaces. My current AHRC funded project, a collaboration with NIAS, Bengaluru, has a particular focus on festivals on the urban periphery:

I'm also interested in gardens as performance spaces, and in the ways in which gardens are structured as performances and am developing a monograph, Performing Gardens, with a focus on gardens in England, India and Japan.

I am a core member of artist's collective, Wrights & Sites. One of our artworks, comprising 41 signs and titled Everything You Need To Build A Town Is Here can be seen in various locations across Western-super-Mare We are also known for our 'Mis-Guides' or alternative guide-books which offer strategies for making familiar places unfamiliar. In 2008 we curated 'Mis-Guided', a mini-season of artworks at the Belluard Bollwerk International Festival in Switzerland, developing ideas from a similar project for the Vienna Festival/Tanzquartier Wien in 2007. We are currently working on a new book concerned with the 'architect-walker', to be published by Triarchy Press.

I am joint author, with Synne Behrndt, of Dramaturgy and Performance (Palgrave, 2008) we are also joint editors of Palgrave's 'new dramaturgies' book series. We guest-edited an edition of Contemporary Theatre Review  on that topic in 2010. 

In 2013, I was Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded network, 'Porous Dramaturgy: "Togetherness" and Community in the Structure of the Artwork'. This project investigated the politics of work that makes the audience in some sense co-creators. 

I am a member of the Walking Artists Network and of the FIRT/IFTR Theatre Architecture working group.



Research supervision

I would welcome applications from research students interested in the performance of place, space and site.

Currently supervising students working in the following areas: open air performance; street theatre forms in Delhi; the performance of public space in Delhi; walking art and parenthood; political theatre.

Research students

I am currently supervising students in the following areas:

Aparna Mahiyaria: 'Understanding Politics, Aesthetics and Performance: A Study of the Development of Street Theatre in Delhi, India' (Co-Supervisor, Prof. Shivali Tukdeo, NIAS, Bengaluru, India).

Lizzie Philps: 'Parents Performing Walking: how can understandings of walking performance be enhanced through participatory live art works which include children?'
Elaine Faull: 'Theatre Alibi : An exploration of the impact on well-being and resilience on young audiences', collaborative PhD with Theatre Alibi, Exeter.
Tom Nicholas: 'Representations of Regional English Cities in Contemporary Theatre'

External impact and engagement

Wrights & Sites have curated work for festivals and a public art work for Weston-super-Mare. Our 'Mis-Guides' have been used in schools and colleges worldwide. Most recently, I have contributed to discussions at RAMM concerning ways of engaging children with the collections.

My project on 'Porous Dramaturgy' has brought academics and practitioner-academics together with practitioners and producers outside the academy in discussions about interactivity and community. This has facilitated workshops held in Northern Ireland by project partners Tinderbox and artist Katarina Pejovic, which culminated in a workshop demonstration and discussion for an invited audience. This workshop, was partly concerned with knowledge exchange and partly brought local concerns to bear in considering and developing the research.

I am beginning to develop research into the garden as a performance space. I am involved in the Little Silver/Russell Terrace Garden Project and contributed an audio-performance for that space, within the Ignite Festival, Exeter, 2013. 

Contribution to discipline

Editor of Palgrave 'New Dramaturgies' series, with Synne Behrndt.



In Jan 2015 I kept a blog on my teaching of the first year 'Research and Performance' module, in which we explored the work of the Bauhaus in 1920s Germany. It gives a good sense of the way in which my research sometimes informs my teaching, and vice versa. It includes the text of a presentation I made on this teaching work to the Prague Quadrennial in June that year, at which I was proud to show videos of the final performance.

Other modules I have led or taught on at Exeter include: Theatrical Interpretation: Practitioners; Playwriting; Dramaturgy; Performance and Interpretation; Practical Essay; Theatre Praxis.

Modules taught


Cathy Turner is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Exeter. Her book, Dramaturgy and Architecture: Theatre, Utopia and the Built Environment, was published by Palgrave in 2015. She is joint author, with Synne Behrndt, of Dramaturgy and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan 2008), and joint editor, with Behrndt, of Palgrave's 'New Dramaturgies' book series. She is a core member of Wrights & Sites, a group of artists whose work is concerned with our relationship with space and place. In 2010, the company completed a major public art commission for Weston-super-Mare, curated by Situations and Field Arts and funded by CABE. She has published on dramaturgy, writing for performance, space and place and is currently researching the relationship between performance and gardens, and performance as response to urbanisation in South India (an AHRC network grant).