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Dr Eleanor Rycroft

Dr Eleanor Rycroft

Dr Eleanor Rycroft
BA(Sus), MA(Sus), DPhil(Sus)


Area of research

Practice-based research into early theatre

Cantocks Close,
Bristol, BS8 1UP
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 3315282


I am a theatre historian of early English and Scottish drama, whose research often involves practical explorations of early modern plays. I have worked on major collaborative projects that have staged theatre in the historic sites of Hampton Court, Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, and Lancaster Castle, including the AHRC-funded 'Staging the Henrician Court' and 'Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court'. I have a special interest in gender, especially the performance of masculinity on the early modern stage and its relationship to ideologies of manhood during the period. My work has appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals such as Medieval English TheatreEarly Theatre and The Shakespeare Bulletin, and has been published by Oxford University Press, Palgrave, Wiley-Blackwell and Ashgate. I have written on material cultures and spatial practices of the early modern stage, theatre at the court of Henry VIII and during the early Tudor and Stewart period, practice-based research  as a research methodology, and the historical performance of witchcraft.

I am currently working on a book about the role of facial hair in the construction of masculinities in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century theatre. On the basis of my practical research using the working courtrooms of Lancaster Castle, I am also involved in a project about the introduction of cameras into criminal courts from a performance studies perspective.


I was appointed Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies in September 2013 and have a special interest in practice-based research into Tudor and Stewart drama.

Following a DPhil on beards and masculinity in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, I was appointed as the Research Assistant on ‘Staging the Henrician Court’.  The project staged John Heywood’s The Play of the Weather in the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace in order to investigate the politics of space at the court of Henry VIII.

Between 2011-12 I was Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at Lancaster University, and directed The Late Lancashire Witches at Lancaster Castle as part of the 400 year anniversary of the Pendle Witch trials.

From 2012-2013 I worked as a Research Fellow at Edinburgh University on 'Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court', playing a key role in the first staging of Sir David Lyndsay's A Satire of the Three Estates since 1554 at Linlithgow Palace. Film of this production can be found at

My work draws on a wide range of practical methods, printed sources, historical records and material objects in order to present fresh ways of thinking about the late medieval and early modern theatre. My other main research interest concerns the gendered subjectivities of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and especially how manhood and boyhood were constructed during the period. I have also become interested in space and place theory in recent years and am increasingly using the insights gleaned from the 'spatial turn' to guide my research-through-practice. 


I have extensive teaching experience in early modern drama and literature, contemporary theatre, and critical theory.

At Bristol, I have taught, designed, and/or convened Early Modern Theatre Practice, Performance Histories, Interpreting Plays, Performance Forms and Analysis, Contemporary British Theatre, Independent Study, Criticism and the Arts, Site-specific and Immersive Theatre, and Approaches to Shakespeare, and on the MA units Space, Place and Performance, Performing the Body, and Research Methods and Questions: Archives. 


  • Practice-based research / practice-as-research
  • Early modern literature and drama
  • Late medieval and early Tudor theatre
  • Gender - especially masculinity
  • The Scottish Renaissance
  • Site-specific performance and heritage
  • Material culture
  • Cultural materialism
  • Witches
  • Place and space theory



Department of Drama: Theatre, Film, Television

Academics by department

Selected publications

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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