Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Professor Jonathan Pitches

Professor of Theatre and Performance

0113 343 8718

PCI Building, Room G.08

Office hours: By arrangement

BA (Hons), MPhil, PhD

As Professor of Theatre and Performance I have research interests in all aspects of performer training and directing, in environmental performance and in blended learning.  I co-edit the Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and am currently working on three contracted book projects: Stanislavsky in the World (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2017) Great Theatre Directors – Copeau, Komisarjevsky and Guthrie (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama 2017) and Performing Landscapes: Mountains (Palgrave 2018).


I was appointed to the Chair of Theatre & Performance in the School in 2006, and finished a three and a half year period as Director of Research for PCI in 2014, leading the School’s submission for the REF. I  led the Practitioner Processes Research group for nine years and very much enjoyed being the first Blended Learning Champion for the PVAC faculty (2013-16). Before moving to Leeds I worked in the Dept of Contemporary Arts in MMU and before that I enjoyed ten years at what is now Northampton University, defining an approach to research-led teaching which I have continued ever since.  Throughout my time as an academic I have been interested in performer training, beginning with Russian approaches to actor training and expanding out more recently to the UK, US and China. Although not strictly a practice-led researcher, (my thesis was a 100,000 words long!) I have always based my research and writing on a deep curiosity and engagement with laboratory training practices and this interest has taken me to Japan, China, Malta and Australia to explore these practices with students and professional actors. Most recently I have developed an all-consuming interest in the relationship between theatre, performance and mountains and started an 18 month project funded by the AHRC to write about this in October 2016. My formal partner on this project is Kendal Mountain Festival.

Research Interests

  • Environmental Performance (Mountains)
  • Performer training methodologies and their transmission across borders
  • The histories and practices of Russian and/or East European traditions specifically: Theodore Komisarjevsky, Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Michael Chekhov, and their tributaries.
  • Digital Reflection and Blended Learning
  • Inter-cultural performance practices
  • Interdisciplinary research methods for performer training, specifically those drawing on science


BA Theatre and Performance: Performance Perspectives, Performer Training in the C20th and C21st, Dissertation Supervisor

MA Performance, Culture and Context: Research Project Supervisor


  • Chair in Theatre and Performance
  • Member of School Professoriate
  • School Ethics Representative
  • Co editor (with Dr Libby Worth) of Theatre Dance and Performance Training (Oxon and New York: Routledge) http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rtdp



  • Pitches JD (2018) Performing Landscapes: Mountains. Performing Landscapes. Palgrave. (In preparation)

  • Pitches JD; Aquilina S (eds.) (2017) Stanislavsky in the World: the System and its transformations across continents. London: Bloomsbury. (Submitted)

  • Pitches J (2012) Introduction: The mechanics of tradition making.
    DOI: 10.4324/9780203146590

  • Pitches JD (2012) The Russians in Britain: British Theatre and the Influence of the Russian Tradition of Acting. Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Pitches JD (2011) Performance Perspectives: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Pitches JD (2006) Science and the Stanislavsky tradition of acting. Routledge.

  • Pitches JD (2003) Vsevolod Meyerhold. London ; New York : Routledge.

  • Evans M, Cornford T, Warden C, Pitches J, Fleming C, Barker R Great Theatre Directors Volume 3: Komisarjevsky, Copeau, Guthrie. London: Bloomsbury. (In preparation)

Journal articles


  • Pitches J, Li R (2016) “Stanislavsky with Chinese Characteristics: how the System was introduced into China”, In: Pitches J; Aquilina S (eds.) Stanislavsky in the World. (In preparation)

  • Pitches JD (2016) “Introduction to Meyerhold on Theatre”, In: Braun E (eds.) Meyerhold on Theatre. 4th. London: Bloomsbury. 1-18
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/94003/

  • Pitches JD (2015) “Contrasting Modernities: the Rural and the Urban in Michael Chekhov's Psychological Gesture and Meyerhold's Biomechanical Études”, In: Meerzon Y; Authant-Matthieu M-C (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov. Abingdon: Routledge. 219-234
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/85311/

  • Pitches JD (2015) “Technique: Training the Actor’s Voice and Body”, In: Evans M (eds.) The Actor Training Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/85312/

  • Pitches JD (2013) “Star or Team? Theodore Komisarjevsky’s early developments in ensemble playing in the UK”, In: Britton J (eds.) Encountering Ensemble. London: Methuen. 94-110

  • Pitches JD, Murray S, Poynor H, Worth L, Richmond D, Dorey Richmond J (2011) “Performer Training: Researching Practice in the Theatre Laboratory”, In: Kershaw B; Nicholson H (eds.) Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Research Methods for the Arts and Humanities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 137-161

  • Pitches JD, Li R (2010) “Negotiations in the Uncomfortable Zone: Identity, Tradition and the Space Between European and Chinese Opera”, In: Walling M (eds.) The Orientations Trilogy: Theatre and Gender: Asia and Europe. Middlesex: Border Crossing Ltd. 196-210

  • Pitches JD (2007) “Routes or Roots: the Technical Traditions of Contemporary Physical Theatres”, In: Murray S; Keefe J (eds.) Physical Theatres: a Reader. Abingdon: Routledge. 46-54
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/75467/

Research Projects & Grants

In October 2016 I began an 18 month research fellowship funded by the AHRC (£250K): Performing Landscapes Mountains. The press release for this project is here.

In 2013 I was the Leeds lead on a White Rose Network directed by Sheffield University. Performing the Past, was a year long series of workshops bringing archaeologists, heritage experts and theatre and performance academics together with industry partners.  A driving theme was to debate the power of performance for articulating lived experiences of communities whose voices were often overpowered or suppressed by ‘official’ commentators.

Research Centres & Groups

Place and Performance Research Group

Performance Training, Preparation and Pedagogy Research Group

TaPRA Performer Training Working Group (co-founder)

International Platform for Perfomer Training

External Appointments

External Examinerships

I have examined 23 PhDs in total including 5 practice-led research theses and one Doctor of Creative Industry. These include PhDs on: Actor training and dyslexia, Meyerhold’s biomechanics, Michael Chekhov, Training kinaesthesia, Creative writing and lucid dreaming, Sanford Meisner, Dark Play, Jerzy Grotowski and Stanislavsky.

2016-19      External for BA Drama, University of East Anglia

2014-16      External for BA Drama, Exeter University

2011-15      External for BA in Theatre and Performance and BA Theatre English, University of Sheffield

2009-13      External for BA Acting, CSSD, University of London

2007-11      External for M.Res Theatre and Contemporary Practice, University of Hull@Scarborough

2005-8        External for BA Drama Theatre and Performance, Roehampton University

2002-6        External for BA Drama, University of Sunderland


Visiting Professorships and consultancy

2012-18:      Visiting Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

2010:          Visiting Professor, Malta University

2009-15:     Member of AHRC Peer Review College

2006-          Academic Associate of Michael Chekhov Centre UK

2004-          Reader and academic consultant for Routledge, Palgrave, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, Intellect.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current Postdocs

David Shearing: Performing Landscapes: Mountains

Current PhD Students

Oliver Bray: The Oulipo movement: then and now

Meng-Chian Lee: Intercultural Adaptations and Interpretations in Taiwanese Contemporary Theatre

Carole Kirk: Dancing with Paint: An exploration of creativity and its relationship to knowledge

Simone Kenyon: Walking out of the body and into the Mountain: dancing, mountaineering and embodied ways of knowing.

Previous PhD Students with completions

Kemi Ilori: The Theatre of Wole Soyinka

Jess Walker (commended for research excellence): The opera singer as creator and collaborator – working towards a new model for contemporary music theatre

Bryan Brown: The evolution of the phenomenon of the theatre laboratory

Stefan Aquilina: Transforming Everyday Life: the Political Struggles of Meyerhold, Stanislavski and Amateur Theatres (with University of Malta)

Vicky Hunter: Site-specific Dance (practice-led)

Jenny Lawson: Playing with the Domestic Goddess: Performance Interventions into Contemporary Food Culture (practice-led)

Polly Williams: Living Histories: Performing Work and Working Lives in the Industrial Museum (CDA)

Demetris Zavros: Music Theatre as Music (practice-led)

PhD Thesis

PhD (no corrections), University of East Anglia: The Psycho-physical Actor: Science and the Stanislavsky Tradition






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