Photo of Sara Jane Bailes

Sara Jane Bailes
Reader in Theatre & Performance Studies (English)
T: +44 (0)1273 876608


My research is concerned with opening up ways of reading theatre, performance and visual art practices through a philosophical lens. My co-edited collection, Beckett and Musicality (Ashgate, 2014) and my first monograph, Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure (Routledge, 2010), exemplify this. I am equally engaged by the social and political contexts that underpin performance practices, and the ways in which those contexts are drawn through the materials of performance. I have always been interested in rehearsal and compositional methods, in particular examining the reflexive relations between ideology and the production of live performance. Other areas of research include: the influence of the city and the everyday on the development of performance vocabularies; feminism and art practice; the body in performance; durational art and histories of the avant garde and performance art. Influenced by 7 years in New York, my writing and teaching focuses on a number of US companies and scenes (particularly the 'downtown' scene in New York). This includes: Judson Dance Theater; Elevator Repair Service; Goat Island, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players and Reza Abdoh/Dar a Luz. I am interested in the way critical theory can illuminate practice and the way in which practice helps to materialise and give contour to the space of thinking. I write texts for performance and collaborate on creative projects with other artists whenever I can (which isn't often enough). I am an honorary scholar at the Institute of Failure (, an ongoing project initiated by Tim Etchells and Matthew Goulish dedicated to the documentation, study, and theorisation of failure. In 2006 and '07 I was visiting artist/scholar at the Goat Island Summer School (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). I am a contributing editor for Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory (Routledge) and write and peer review for a range of international journals, web-based theatre and collaborative writing projects (see and I make performance, short videos, write quick fictions and I am currently collaborating on an ongoing weekly performance project created through shared instructions with video artist and performance maker, Elyce Semenec (New York).