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Dr Eleanor Rycroft

Practice-based research into early theatre

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 and its relationship to ideologies of manhood during the period. My monograph - Facial Hair and the Performance of Early Modern Masculinity (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama, Routledge, 2019) - concerns the role of beards in the construction of masculinities on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century stage. My next research project will investigate the staging of walking in early modern theatre.

My work has appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals such as Medieval English TheatreEarly TheatreJournal of the Northern Renaissance and 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, hair and beards in travel literature, theatre at the court of Henry VIII, early Tudor and Stewart drama, practice-based research as a research methodology, and the historical performance of witchcraft.


Research keywords

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