Professor Helena Grehan
PhD Murd.

Deputy Dean and Associate Dean (Research), School of Arts

About me


I teach both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the school of Arts. I am particularly interested in working with students at all levels to develop and refine their skills in the area of critical analysis as these skills are transferrable to any employment context. I have taught subjects in Literature, Drama, Theatre, Performance Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, Digital Arts and Research Methods as well as major first year classes on creativity and critical thinking and humanities research methods. I have supervised (or co-supervised) 13 PhD students to completion.

I am currently Deputy Dean and Associate Dean, Research in the School of Arts. These roles provide me with opportunities to assist the School Dean and the Executive Core Group in Arts and also to work with colleagues in research and career support, development and mentoring. My responsibilities in both of these roles include representing the School of Arts on many committees and working parties both within the context of Murdoch University and with colleagues nationally and internationally.

My research centres around questions of ethics and responsibility in and in response to political performance, theatre and contemporary art practice. I am particularly interested in how modes of spectatorship might be usefully understood and theorised in the context of an increasingly mediatised performance and creative arts environment. I have published a number of books, book chapters and journal articles from my research. I am a Fellow of the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University and I was a member of the Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts 2015-2017 (Humanities and Creative Arts Panel). I am Associate Editor of the refereed journal Performance Research.


Teaching area

I coordinate and teach the following unit:

EGL236 Performance and Creative Arts

Research areas

My research interests include performance theory, ethics and spectatorship, race and representation, interculturalism, new media dramaturgy and thinking about the relationships between art and politics. I publish my research in a range of national and international refereed journals. I am Associate Editor of the refereed journal Performance Research.

I have recently completed a collaborative project with Professors Edward Scheer (UNSW) and Peter Eckersall (CUNY) on the topic of ‘New Media Dramaturgy’. This was an ARC funded Discovery Project and it resulted in a range of outputs including workshops with leading artists and companies, seminars, invited talks and a range of published works. The key research output in terms of publication was our co-authored book New Media Dramaturgy which is part of the New Dramaturgies series edited by Cathy Turner and Synne Behrndt and published by Palgrave Macmillan. Our title New Media Dramatury is forthcoming. Another notable outcome from this project was a co-authored book, with Prof Scheer William Yang: Stories of Love and Death published by New South Publishing in 2016. This book was the culmination of many years of discussions, analysis and consideration of the work of the important Australian artist William Yang.

I am currently lead Chief Investigator on a new ARC Discovery grant Power and Performance: Revaluing Theatre in the 21st century (2016-2018) and I am delighted to be working with Professor Janelle Reinelt (Warwick), Professor Scheer, Professor Eckersall, Dr Edward Patterson (Melbourne) and Dr Caroline Wake (UNSW) on this new project.

My recent edited book (with Peter Eckersall) ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’: Back to Back Theatre, Performance, Politics, Visibility (2013) was a pleasure to develop. It allowed us to work closely with the staff and performers at the amazing company Back to Back Theatre and to collaborate on a project that would go some way towards documenting and celebrating their profound and important work. My book Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Global Age (2009), was joint winner of the Rob Jordan Prize, for the best book in theatre or performance studies in the previous two years, by the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA). My article ‘Aalst: Acts of Evil, Ambivalence and Responsibility’, published in Theatre Research International, (2010: 35,1), pp. 4-16 was awarded the ADSA Marlis Thiersch prize for excellence in an English-language article in theatre, drama or performance studies anywhere in the world.

Current projects

As mentioned above I recently completed two books with my collaborators. New Media Dramaturgy with Eckersall and Scheer, and the recently published William Yang: Stories of Love and Death with Scheer.

I am also working on the new collaborative Discovery grant Performance and Power: Revaluing Theatre in the 21st century.

Awards and grants

Awards and Prizes

  • Marlis Theirsch Award 2011, Australaisan Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies.
  • Rob Jordan Prize 2010, Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies, joint winner.
  • Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008 for teaching excellence in my discipline.


Grehan,Helena (CI) 2017, with CIs Prof Scheer, Dr Wake, Dr Paterson and PIs Prof Eckersall and Prof Reinelt. ARC Discovery Project. ‘Performance and Power: Revaluing Theatre in the 21st century.’

Grehan, Helena (CI) 2014 one of 25 partner institutions, ARC LIEF ‘AusStage, Phase 5: Australian live performance and the world – global networks, national culture, aesthetic transmission.’

Grehan, H (CI) 2011 with CIs Prof Scheer and A/Prof Eckersall. ARC Discovery Project. ‘New Media Dramaturgy: how new media transform the composition and reception of live performance.’

Grehan, H (CI) 2010 one of 18 partner institutions ARC LIEF ‘AusStage Phase 4: Harnessing collective intelligence and pioneering new visual methodologies for innovative research into Australian live performance.’

Grehan, H (CI) 2007 one of 19 partner institutions ARC LIEF ‘AusStage: Gateway to Australian live performance, phase 3 – enhancing collaborative research methodologies through digital networking technologies.’

Events and speaking engagements

Invited Panelist ‘Reading and Interpreting Brecht’ – Q&A with Director Dr Wang Xiaoying (Vice President, National Theatre of China), Dr Steve Chinna and Dr Gary Sigley. UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and Black Swan State Theatre Company, August 2, 2016, State Theatre Centre of WA.

Panel Chair ‘Between the Epic and the Everyday’ Back to Back Theatre’s Lady Eat’s Apple, with Back to Back Ensemble, Dr Caroline Wake, Dr Josephine Wilson and Ruth Little, Perth International Arts Festival, March 4, 2017, Heath Ledger Theatre.

Invited Speaker ‘The Self Behind the Selfie: A Roundtable with William Yang and Annette Shun Wah’, with Professor Edward Scheer, Adelaide Festival, Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, March 11, 2017.

Professional and community service

Member, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Research Evaluation Committee (REC)
for Humanities and Creative Arts (HCA), 2018.

Member ARC College of Experts, Humanities and Creative Arts Panel 2015-2017.

Associate Editor of Performance Research

Member Murdoch University Promotions and Probationary Review Committee 2006-present

Member psi (Performance Studies International).

Member of PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts) Performance Advisory Panel.

Doctoral and masters supervisions

I currently supervise or co-supervise ten Doctoral students working in the areas of theatre, creative writing, literature, philosophy, cultural studies and film.



Helena Grehan, Peter Eckersall and Edward Scheer, New Media Dramaturgy: Performance, Media and New-Materialism 2017, Palgrave Macmillan.

Helena Grehan and Edward Scheer, William Yang: Stories of Love and Death 2016, New South Press.

Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall, eds. ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’, Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, 2013, Performance Research Books.

Helena Grehan, Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Global Age, 2009, Palgrave Macmillan.

Helena Grehan, Mapping Cultural Identity in Contemporary Australian Performance,1999, Peter Lang Publishing.

Book Chapters

Peter Eckersall, Edward Scheer and Helena Grehan, 2015, ‘New Media Dramaturgy’, in Magda Romanska ed. The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, London and New York: Routledge.

Helena Grehan, 2013,’Irony, Parody and Satire in Ganesh Versus the Third Reich‘, in Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’, Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, Performance Research Books.

Helena Grehan, 2013,’‘The Democratic Set: “A Cavalcade of portrait, soapbox and drama”‘, in Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall, eds. ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’, Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, Performance Research Books.

Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall, 2013,’The Existential Antagonists: Back to Back, dramaturgy and spectatorship’,in Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall, eds. ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’, Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, Performance Research Books.

Helena Grehan, 2013, ‘Responding to the “unspoken” in Food Court’, in Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall, eds. ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’, Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, Performance Research Books.

Helena Grehan, 2013, ‘Responsibility and the Dangers of Proximity: Responding to Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children,in Bryoni Trezise and Caroline Wake eds. Visions and Revision: Performance, Memory, Trauma, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.Neal Harvey,

Helena Grehan and Joanne Tompkins, 2009, ‘AusStage: From Database of Performing Arts to a Performing Database of the Arts’, in Katherine Bode and Robert Dixon eds. Resourceful Reading. The new empiricism, eResearch, and Australian literary culture, Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Helena Grehan, 2001, ‘”Implacement” and Belonging: Dramatising White Women’s Stories in Tiger Country’, in Marc Maufort and Franca Bellarsi eds. Siting the Other: Re-visions of Marginality in Australian and English-Canadian Drama, Brussels: Peter Lang Publishing.

Refereed Journal Articles

Grehan, Helena, 2018 ‘On Refuge’, Performance Research, 23.4, 435-436.

Grehan, Helena, 2018 First Nations Politics in a Climate of Refusal: Speaking and listening but failing to hear, Performance Research, 23.3, 7-12.

Edward Scheer and Helena Grehan, 2017, ‘Recompositions: Images of Patrick White in William Yang’s My Generation‘, Australasian Drama Studies, 71, October, 157-177.

William Dunstone, and Helena Grehan, 2017, ‘”Chaos” and “convergence” on the Australian Goldfields: the politics of performance in the 1890s’, Australasian Drama Studies, 70, April, 35-56.

Helena Grehan, 2015, ‘Actors, Spectators, and “Vibrant” Objects: Kris Verdonck’s ACTOR#1, TDR, 59,3, 132-139.

Helena Grehan, 2015, ‘Electronic Journals’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 25,1, 130-133.

Helena Grehan, 2014, ‘An Unresolvable Dramaturgy: Dennis Del Favero’s Todtnauberg and what it means to respond’, Performance Research, 19,6,15-21.

William Dunstone and Helena Grehan, 2013, ‘Making maps “speak”: E-mapping performance on Western Australia’s Coolgardie Goldfield, 1894-98′, Australasian Drama Studies, 62, April, 89-99.

Helena Grehan, 2011, ‘Are we so happy that we’ve lost all of the “tragic spectators”?’, Performance Paradigm: a journal of performance & contemporary culture,

Helena Grehan, 2010, ‘Aboriginal Performance: Politics, Empathy and the Question of Reciprocity’, Australasian Drama Studies, 56, April, 38-52.

Helena Grehan, 2010, ‘Aalst: Acts of Evil, Ambivalence and Responsibility’, Theatre Research International, 35,1, 4-16.

Neal Harvey, Helena Grehan and Joanne Tompkins, 2010, ‘”Be thou Familiar, But by no means Vulgar”: Australian Theatre Blogging Practice’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 20,1, 109-119.

Helena Grehan, 2006, ‘Testimony and Ambivalence in Sandakan Threnody‘, Australasian Drama Studies, 49, October, 89-100.

Helena Grehan, 2004, ‘Questioning the relationship between consumption and exchange: Theatre Works’ Flying Circus Project’, December 2000, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 12,2,565-586.

Helena Grehan, 2003, ‘Rakini Devi: Diasporic Subject and Agent Provocateur’, Theatre Research International, 28,3, 229-244.

Helena Grehan, 2003, ‘Black and Tran’: A comedy that laughs in the face of racism?’, Australasian Drama Studies, 42, April, 112-122.

Helena Grehan, 2002, ‘Stillness and Intrigue in The North and Sadness by William Yang’, Journal of Australian Studies, 73, 151-160.

Helena Grehan, 2001, ‘Theatreworks’ Desdemona: Fusing Technology and Tradition’, TDR 45,3, 113-125.

Helena Grehan, 2001, ‘Faction and Fusion in The 7 Stages of Grieving‘, Theatre Research International, 26, 1, 106-116.

Helena Grehan, 2000, ‘Performed Promiscutities: Interpreting Interculturalism in the Japan Foundation Asia Centre’s LEAR‘, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, 3,

Helena Grehan, 1999, ‘Negotiating Discovery in The Geography of Haunted Places‘, Australasian Drama Studies, 34, April, 109-121.