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Dr Josh Edelman

Reader in Drama and Contemporary Performance

Academic and Professional Qualifications

AB, Study of Religion, Harvard University

MPhil, Theology and the Arts, University of St Andrews

PhD, Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin

Previous Employment

Fellow in Research and Enterprise, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, 2011-2014

Associate Lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London, 2014-2015

Academic Service (Administration and Management)

Founding co-convenor of the Performance, Religion and Spirituality Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research

Founding member of the Project on European Theatre Systems (STEP)


American (native)

French (some)

German (a little)

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach on a number of units in MMU's drama programme, including all three years of the Texts, Contexts and History strand. I supervise students on Theatre Practice and Advanced Theatre Practice, and teach on the first year Practice and Performance unit.

Practioner Roles

I have worked as a professional theatre director — in New York, Texas, and Dublin — for over a decade.

Community, Charity and NGO links

I am one of the volunteer co-ordinators of the Asylum Seeker Drop-In Centre at West London Synagogue.

Government and Industry Links

I have served as an expert advisor on theatre policy to An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council of Ireland.

Membership of Professional Associations

Foudning co-editor, Performance, Religion and Spirituality

Member, Project on European Theatre Systems

Founding Co-convenor, Performance and Religion Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research


Research Interests

My two primary areas of research are, first, the relationships between performance, ritual and religion in the modern West, and second, the overlaps between politics, policy and theatremaking in contemporary Europe. I also work on contemporary Irish performance, experiments in audiencing, and new writing.

Academic Collaborations

I am the founding co-convenor of the Performance and Religion Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR), the world's leading theatre research body. The working group includes members from six continents and representing most of the world's major religious and theatrical traditions, and we welcome researchers at all stages in their career, from graduate students to senior scholars.

I am also a founding member of the Project on European Theatre Systems (STEP), a group of sociologically-minded theatre and cultural policy scholars from around Europe. We study theatre as a social process in dialogue with theatre makers and policy workers, and for both academic and public audiences.

I am also a member of the interdisciplinary Heavenly Acts research network, based at the University of Sheffield, which looks at the performativity of religion in an interdisciplinary context. I have also worked with the International Summer School at Mainz, the Mellon Summer School at Harvard, and Performance Studies International.

Invited Papers

I have given invited lectures at the universities of Warwick, Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway, St Andrews, Sheffield, Mainz and Zurich.


I served as principal investigator on the project 'The value of subsidised, commercial and amateur theatre and dance for Tyneside’s audiences,' funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the Cultural Values Project in 2014. My co-investigator was Dr Tony Fisher of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.

Josh Edelman is a member of the Art and Performance Research Hub.


Edelman, J., Hansen, LE., van den Hoogen, QL., 2016. 'The Problem of Theatrical Autonomy. Analysing Theatre as a Social Practice', Amsterdam University Press.

Chambers, CM., Du Toit, SW., Edelman, J., 2013. 'Introduction: The public problem of religious doings'.

Edelman, J., Chambers, C., Toit, SD., 2013. 'Performing Religion in Public', Palgrave Macmillan.

Book Chapters

Edelman, J., 2021. 'Sacred space and occupation as protest: Jonathan Z. Smith and occupy wall street'. In Performances of Sacred Places: Crossing, Breathing, Resisting, pp. 192-206.

Edelman, J., 2020. 'Justifying theatre and its funding after 2008'. In Theatre Institutions in Crisis, pp. 83-92, Routledge.

Edelman, JA., 2015. 'Occupation and Sacred Space in a Post-Secular Society''. In Battista, S. (eds.) Sacred Places: Performances, Politics and Ecologies.

Edelman, J., 2013. 'The intolerable, intimate public of contemporary American street preaching'. In Performing Religion in Public, pp. 117-133.

Edelman, J., 2009. 'Arts Planning in the Irish Theatre: A Cautionary Tale'. In Global Changes - Local Stages, pp. 229-264, BRILL.

Edelman, JA., 2009. 'Forms, Fragments, and Fictions in Adrienne Kennedy's The Owl Answers'. In Fictional Realities / Real Fictions. Contemporary Theatre in Search of a New Mimetic Paradigm, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Sheil, Á., Edelman, J., 2009. 'Internationalization and the Irish State's Relationship with Theatre and Opera'. In Global Changes - Local Stages, pp. 146-175, BRILL.

Edelman, JA., 2009. 'Theatre Planning in Ireland: A Cautionary Tale'. In Global Changes--local Stages How Theatre Functions in Smaller European Countries, Rodopi.

Edelman, JA., 2007. 'Can An Act Be True? The possibilities of the dramatic metaphor for theology within a post-Stanislavskian dramaturgy'. In Faithful Performances Enacting Christian Tradition, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Internet Publications

Edelman, JA., Sloboda, J., O'Neill, S., 2016. 'Opera and Emotion: The Cultural Value of Attendance for the Highly Engaged'.

Journal Articles

Edelman, J., 2015. 'Sensational Devotion: Evangelical Performance in Twenty-First-Century America by Jill Stevenson', Contemporary Theatre Review, 25 (3), pp. 436-437.

van Maanen, H., Sorli, M., Toome, H., Wilders, ML., Edelman, JA., Szabó, A., Balkányi, M., 2015. 'Spectators, Who are They? A demographic analysis of theatre audiences in four European cities', Amfiteater: Journal of Performing Arts Theory, 3 (1-2), pp. 280-303.

Edelman, JA., van Maanen, H., Sorli, M., 2015. 'STEP into the Provinces: The theatre systems and audience experiences of smaller European cities', Amfiteater: Journal of Performing Arts Theory, 3 (1-2), pp. 221-233.

van Maanen, H., Edelman, JA., Balkányi, M., Bremgartner, MP., Hansen, L., Saro, A., Schappach, B., Sorli, M., Toome, H., Szabó, A., 2015. 'Theatre Systems Compared', Amfiteater: Journal of Performing Arts Theory, 3 (1-2), pp. 234-255.

Edelman, JA., 2013. 'The Debbie Friedman Problem: Performing Tradition, Memory, and Modernity in Progressive Jewish Liturgy', Liturgy, 28 (1), pp. 6-17.

Edelman, J., 2012. 'What phenomenology can bring to theatre sociology, and what it cannot, with reference to Radio Muezzin in Aarhus', Nordic Theatre Studies, 24, pp. 22-32.

Edelman, JA., 2009. 'What is a theatre company? The Irish Example', Peripeti : tidsskritft for dramaturgiske studier, 12, pp. 55-66.

Other Outputs

Edelman, J., 2014. 'Measuring the value of theatre for Tyneside audiences & The Value of Subsidised, Commercial and Amateur Theatre and Dance for Tyneside's Audiences'.