Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Dr Kara McKechnie

Lecturer in Dramaturgy and Literary Management

0113 347 87

stage@leeds, 1.04


Anglo-German academic with a strong research focus in opera studies; teaches across a wide range, including adaptation studies, new writing, theatre and music education (primary), theatre history and critical contexts. Also involved in many public engagement activities with Leeds cultural organisations.


Dr Kara McKechnie is a Scottish-German hybrid, born in the UK, educated in Germany to MA-level and in the UK from 1998. She has worked in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries since 2000. Kara teaches mainly on the Text and Performance study route on the (BA Hons) Theatre and Performance, but also enjoys working on collaborative performance projects and supervising postgraduate students. Her main research focus is the field of opera studies and particularly Leeds company Opera North. Her illustrated monograph on the company, Opera North: Historical and Dramaturgical Perspectives on Opera Studies, was published by Emerald in 2014. She contributes to the partnership between the University and Opera North on a regular basis through working with undergraduate and postgraduate students in association with the company and through providing dramaturgical consultancy. She also published on adaptation studies as well as television and film studies – her 2007 monograph on Alan Bennett’s television work has received a lot of attention.

Education and Career

Postgraduate Research Tutor for the School of PCI, 2007 – 2010.

Programme Manager for BA (Hons) Theatre Dramaturgy, 2001 – 2007

PhD Bursary Student:, De Montfort University Leicester, 1998 – 2000, supervisors: Prof. Judy Simons, Prof. Peter Davison, Dr Andy Mousley, all DMU.

MA thesis: The Theatre of Alan Bennett, 1st class, University of Heidelberg, 1997.

Research Assistant, Department of English, Heidelberg University (Prof. Meller), 1992 to 1997.

Undergraduate/ MA student, Heidelberg University, 1990 to 1997.

Freelance work for theatre and opera in Germany and the UK as dramaturg, translator, assistant director, stage manager, 1983 to date, companies including Heidelberg Festival, Heidelberg Theatre, State Opera Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and Ludwigsburg Festivals, Dorset Opera, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North.

Research Interests

  • Opera Studies
  • Adaptation Studies
  • Alan Bennett
  • Television Drama
  • Contemporary German theatre and opera
  • Ethnography and semiotics as tools of rehearsal and production analysis


  • Processes of Performance 3 (module leader), 4, 5
  • Cultures of Performance (module leader)
  • Collaborative Performance Project (with Leeds primary schools and Opera North)
  • Dissertation
  • Performance Contexts (MA)
  • Some years: Performance Project


Programme Manager: BA (Hons) Theatre & Performance



  • McKechnie K (2014) Opera North. Historical and Dramaturgical Perspectives on Opera Studies. 1. N/A. Bingley: Emerald Books.

  • McKechnie K (2007) Alan Bennett. The Television Series. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Journal articles

  • McKinney JE, McKechnie K (2016) “Interview with Katrin Brack”, Theatre and Performance Design. 2.1-2: 127-135.
    DOI: 10.1080/23322551.2016.1171602, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/99375/

  • McKechnie K (2011) “Instance: Rimini Protokoll, Mnemopark”, In preparation. (In preparation)

  • McKechnie K (2011) “Gloriana – the Queen’s two selves. Agency, context and Adaptation Studies”, In preparation. (In preparation)

  • McKechnie K (2011) ““Operatic adaptation or television opera? Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for television in 1959””, In preparation. (In preparation)

  • McKechnie K (2008) “Detached signifiers, dead babies and demon dwarves: Bieito’s Dutchman”, Studies in Musical Theatre. 2.1: 101-108.
    DOI: 10.1386/smt.2.1.101/7, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/82878/


  • McKechnie K (2003) “Homely Northern Women in Sensible Shoes: Alan Bennett and the Pleasures of Provincialism”, In: Achilles; J; Bergmann; I; Daewes; B (eds.) Global Challenges and Regional Responses in Contemporary Drama in English. Contemporary Drama in English. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier. 189-202

  • McKechnie K (2002) “Taking Liberties with the Monarch: the royal bio-pic in the 1990's”, In: Monk C; Sargeant A (eds.) British Historical Film. British Popular Film. Routledge. 217-236

  • McKechnie K (2001) “Mrs Brown's Mourning and Mr King's Madness: Royal Crisis on Screen”, In: Cartmell; D; Hunter I; Whelehan; I (eds.) Retrovisions: Reinventing the Past in Film and Television. Pluto Press. 102-119


  • McKechnie K, Palmer S A Light in the Rhubarb Shed. 10/10/2008


  • McKechnie K (2004) Alan Bennett. Bruccoli Clark Layman.

  • McKechnie K (2002) What's he Really LIke? Alan Bennett and his Self on Stage. West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Research Projects & Grants

Project Manager and principal supervisor: two AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards with Opera North

PI for Visiting Leverhulme Professorship Prof Eckart Voigts-Virchow, Spring 2010.

Research Centres & Groups

Performer Processes

External Appointments

External Examiner BA (Hons) Performing Arts, University of Cumbria

External Examiner for practice-led PhD Karen Savage, University of Portsmouth

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

  • Jenny Daniel (with R Farnes (Opera North), R Cowgill (Huddersfield), B White (Music)
  • Jessica Walker (with J Pitches)
  • Gillian Knox (with J McKinney)
  • Supervised to completion: Daniel Bye, Jacqueline Bolton (with S Bottoms, English), Adam Strickson (with R Cowgill, Huddersfield and D Gray, Opera North), Raolat Abiola (MPhil, with Garry Lyons)

PhD Thesis

PhD thesis: Variations on a Self – Alan Bennett’s works in autobiographical, dramaturgical and narratological interpretations. PhD awarded without alterations, De Montfort University, Leicester, 2004.

Professional Practice

Chair or speaker: numerous pre-show talks and Inside Opera events for Opera North, 2008 to date (e.g. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Girl of the Golden West, La traviata, The Marriage of Figaro)

Author of programme articles for West Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North (e.g. The Lady in the Van, Untold Stories, The Ring Cycle)

Presenter/ dramaturg: Alan Bennett’s Yorkshire, lecture with performance excerpts as part of the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Alan Bennett season, May 2014

Director, dramaturg, adaptor: Gesamtkunstwerksverfremdungseffekt (Something German!), (stage one, School of PCI, University of Leeds), October 2008.

Director, dramaturg, adaptor: A Light in the Rhubarb Shed (stage one, School of PCI, University of Leeds), October 2008.

Director, dramaturg, adaptor: The Turn of the Screw (Performance Centre, School of PCI, University of Leeds), March 2006

Translator, dramaturg: WelcomeHomeWorld (Dein Projekt liebt Dich), Johannes Schrettle, JANUS Festival, West Yorkshire Playhouse, May 2006.

Director, dramaturg, singer: Frauen – Brecht – Krieg (on Brecht and women), 1995 to 1996, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg and Munich.

Director: Unveiling (V. Havel), 1995, English Drama Group, Heidelberg.




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