Kirstin Smith
  • 1.25 Arts and Humanities Building

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I'm interested in supervising theses that work in the realm of: non-theatrical performance cultures; turn of the century theatre and performance; performance and risk, value, labour and gender; dramaturgy and scriptwriting.

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Personal profile


Kirstin Smith grew up in Edinburgh where she attended Boroughmuir Comprehensive School. From 1995, she worked as an actor in film, television and theatre, appearing in several BBC dramas (Kidnapped, Medical Ethics, Sea of Souls). She studied English at St John's College, Cambridge, where she wrote dissertations on the short fiction of Muriel Spark and Henry James. Kirstin worked with the Playwright's Studio, Scotland, 7:84 and Oran Mor workshopping and performing new plays. In 2009-2010 she completed an MA in Text and Performance Studies at RADA and King's College, London, with a focus on playwrighting. Subsequently, she worked as a performer and dramaturg with several devising companies.

From 2012-16, Kirstin undertook a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, supervised by Professor Nicholas Ridout. Her thesis analysed the development of stunts as performance and discourse in late nineteenth century New York. In 2014, she won the TDR (The Drama Review) Student Essay Contest for her article about an endurance walking contest at Madison Square Garden. She spent three months as a Fellow at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress undertaking archival research, and completed her PhD in 2018. Her essay, ' "He was no fool. He was a bridge jumper": Industrial fall guys in turn-of-the-century New York' was shortlisted for the British Association for Modernist Studies essay prize for early career scholars. Kirstin's monograph, Stunts of Late-Nineteenth-Century New York: Aestheticised Precarity, Endangered Liveness was published by Routledge in 2019.

Kirstin's current research interests progress her explorations of identity, economy and risk through an exploration of casting, particularly in relation to gendered labour. She published 'On Being Cast: Identity Work' in Platform in 2020 and is currently analysing the relationship between casting and sexual exploitation. 

In 2016, Kirstin joined LDC at UEA, where she teaches dramatic literature, performance theory, experimental and feminist performance and scriptwriting. 

As well as dramaturgy and performance, Kirstin maintains an interest in fiction. She co-authored Confidence, a blend of fiction and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, published by Bloomsbury in 2016. Kirstin worked for eight years as an audio describer, describing theatre, museums and architecture for blind and partially sighted audience members, and training museum staff. In October 2016, she co-organised a conference, 'The Art of Access', at the Young Vic theatre.

Key Research Interests

Kirstin is particularly interested in risk, value, identity and labour in theatre and performance, with a focus on the turn of the twentieth century and its legacies in contemporary culture. Having researched the emergence of stunts, Kirstin is now researching casting, in relation to identity and gendered labour.

Teaching Interests

Kirstin enjoys teaching dramaturgy, scriptwriting, performance history and historiography, the politics of performance, and theoretical approaches to theatre and performance. She teaches both practice-based and seminar-based modules.