Dr James Frieze

Liverpool Screen School

My monographs, Naming Theatre: Demonstrative Diagnosis in Performance (Palgrave, 2009) and Theatrical Performance and the Forensic Turn (Routledge, 2019), focus on contemporary performance practice (especially scripted drama and participatory performance) and on theory that situates this practice in relation to cultural turns and trends. I have contributed to a wide range of journals and collections. The high and sustained impact of the edited volume, Reframing Immersive Theatre: the politics and pragmatics of participatory performance (Palgrave, 2016) has led the publisher to request a second edition.

I am currently developing a network for trans-disciplinary research on forensic aesthetics. At the heart of this multi-strand research is a shared desire to interrogate the tension inherent in 'forensic aesthetics', a phrase which encapsulates the forensic's reliance on aesthetics to situate itself above the level of perception. Over the last decade, I have published on verbal, visual and technical constructions of forensic methodology as a powerful grammar of expertise that transcends both the frailties of perception and the boundaries between areas of culture. To date, this research has engaged me in conversation with academics in many subject areas, including media, art, education, criminology, politics and nursing, as well as with professionals in fields including elite sport and medicine. These conversations have made it clear that there is an obsession across many areas of culture with the ways in which evidence is gathered and with bases and standards of proof.

While my research on forensic aesthetics is trans-disciplinary, my home in theatre and performance informs this trans-disciplinary approach. In the nineteenth century, a theatrical form called 'naturalism' emerged which espoused the unflinching examination of specimens of human nature observed through fictional representations of behaviour. According to Emile Zola, the author of naturalistic drama should be invisible, the characters appearing as if through clear glass, under a microscope. Two tv shows premiered in 2000, each of which spawned worlds of tabloid forensic entertainment in which naturalism re-emerges: CSI and Big Brother. My research, as presented in Theatrical Performance and the Forensic Turn, reads this new world of entertainment as a re-emergence and extension of naturalism's criminological approach to entertainment. I now want to think in a more focussed way about interfaces between entertainment and judicial practice, and about ways that my performance-centred research can play a part in future constructions and effects of forensic methodology in criminology, medicine and other fields.

There is an LJMU microsite for James Frieze's research on forensic aesthetics: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/microsites/forensic-aesthetic.


Frieze J. 2019. Theatrical Performance and the Forensic Turn Routledge 978-0415854504 DOI Publisher Url

Frieze J. 2017. Reframing immersive theatre: The politics and pragmatics of participatory performance :1-345 9781137366030 DOI

Frieze J. 2009. Naming Theatre: Demonstrative Diagnosis in Performance Palgrave MacMillan 9780230517707


Frieze J. 2019. The Builders Association Vanden Heuvel M. American Theatre Companies 1995-2017 Bloomsbury Methuen

Frieze J. 2017. Reframing immersive theatre: The politics and pragmatics of participatory performance Reframing Immersive Theatre: The Politics and Pragmatics of Participatory Performance :1-25 9781137366030 DOI

Frieze J. 2016. One Step Forward, One Step Back: Resisting the Forensic Turn Performance and Participation Practices, Audiences, Politics :189-208 Palgrave Public Url

Frieze J. 2012. The Mess Behind the Veil: Assimilating Ping Chong Li DL. Asian American Literature Routledge 9780415498876

Frieze J. 2012. Whatever You Say: Making the Monstrous Phatic Svich C. Out of Silence Eyecorner Press 9788792633149

Journal article

Frieze J. 2015. Beyond the zero-sum game: Participation and the optics of opting Contemporary Theatre Review, 25 :216-229 DOI

Frieze J. 2013. A game of two halves: Participation, performance and All That is Wrong Studies in Theatre and Performance, 33 :321-336 DOI

Frieze J. 2013. Actualizing a Spectator Like You: The Ethics of the Intrusive-Hypothetical Performing Ethos, 3 :7-22

Frieze J. 2013. A Game of Two Halves: Performance, Participation and All That is Wrong Studies in Theatre and Performance, 33 :321-336

Frieze J. 2012. Young Jean Lee: The Technical Restrictions of Personhood Contemporary Theatre Review, 22

Frieze J. 2011. Naked Truth: Theatrical Performance and the Diagnostic Turn THEATRE RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL, 36 :148-162 DOI Author Url

Frieze J. 2006. The mess behind the veil: Assimilating Ping Chong THEATRE RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL, 31 :84-100 DOI Author Url

Frieze J. 2003. Playwrights in rehearsal: The seduction of company MODERN DRAMA, 46 :533-534 Author Url

Frieze J. 1999. Layers of Perception Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, XIII :157-164

Frieze J. 1998. 'Imperceptible Mutabilites in the Third Kingdom': Suzan-Lori Parks and the shared struggle to perceive MODERN DRAMA, 41 :523-532 DOI Author Url

Frieze J. 1998. Making space losing face - Mimi Goese and the penultimate dis- (performance artist) PAJ-A JOURNAL OF PERFORMANCE AND ART, :1-9 Author Url

Frieze J. 1997. Ping Chong, 'After Sorrow' THEATRE JOURNAL, 49 :352-354 Author Url

Frieze J. 1997. Anglo-American interplay in recent drama - Cohn,R THEATRE STUDIES, :75-76 Author Url


Frieze J. 2002. The Articulation of Difference: Staging Identity in the United States (1986-92) University of Wisconsin-Madison

External PGR Supervision - completed students:

Heriot-Watt University, PhD, Playing Bilingual: interweaving deaf and hearing cultural practices to achieve quality of participation in theatrical performance processes. 2019

Brimingham University, M.A. (Res.), Political Theatre and the Experience Economy. 2018

Salford University, PhD, An Investigation into the Relationship between the Individual and the Collective in Emerging Performance Ensembles. 2017

Lancaster University, PhD, Towards Economies of Generosity in Contemporary Live Art Practice. 2017

Bangor University, PhD, Considering the Therapeutic Potential of Immersive Theatres: a practice-led investigation. 2016

Other invited event:

Incubate Propagate, Birmingham University, This was the first consultation meeting for Incubate Propagate, a working group involving members of the Arts Council, arts producers, and academics. Its purpose is to consider ways that collaboration between the three areas can be developed in the UK going forward.. 2017

Conference organisation:

TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association), Working Group Convenor (Performance and the Body). 2011