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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

Cantock's Close,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1UP
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 3315282


I am a theatre historian of early English and Scottish drama, and my 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 have just completed a book about the role of beards in the construction of masculinities on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century stage. Facial Hair and the Performance of Early Modern Masculinity  is forthcoming in 2019 (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama, Routledge).


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. 


Selected recent papers include:

'Drama and/as Other', roundtable discussion, Leeds International Medieval Conference (2017)

'Engaging Twenty-First Century Audiences', invited plenary paper, RECIRC conference, NUI Galway (2017)

'Hairs, heirs, and airs: Locating Masculinity in Hamlet and Macbeth', invited speaker, Leicester Early Modern Research Seminar, University of Leicester (2016)

‘Space, memory, and transformation in the 1540 and 1554 versions of Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis’, Shakespeare Association of America Conference, New Orleans (2016)

'Facial Hair and Liminal Masculinities on the Early Modern Stage', Framing the Face symposium, London (2015)

‘Practice-based research in the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace and the ruins at Linlithgow’, Society for Renaissance Studies conference, Southampton (2014)

‘Place and Space in the Late Medieval and Sixteenth Century Drama: The case of the Satire of the Three Estates’, Sogang University, Seoul   (2014)

‘Kings on-stage in Scotland and England’, Scottish Medievalists conference, Croy; Renaissance Society of America conference, New York (2014)

‘iShakespeare: New Media in Research and Pedagogy’ workshop, Shakespeare Association of America conference, Boston (2012)


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 Theatre

Academics by department

Selected publications

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View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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