Is the playwright dead? David Edgar announced as Humanities Visiting Professor of Drama Studies at Oxford University

8 January 2015

Is the playwright dead? David Edgar announced as Humanities Visiting Professor of Drama Studies at Oxford University Playwright David Edgar has been announced as this year's Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama Studies at Oxford University. He will discuss the future of the playwright in a week-long series of talks and discussions next month.

Mr Edgar said: 'A huge change is happening in British theatre. Throughout the last century, theatre programmes were dominated by revivals. Now, for the first time for at least a hundred years, new work has overtaken old work in the repertoire.

'At the same time, however, there has been a shift of opinion against playwriting, in favour of collective methods of theatre. The very activity of playwriting has been attacked as individualistic, undemocratic and even immoral.

'I'm running a week of events to explore the causes and consequences of the anti-writer trend. Is it happening? Do the charges against the playwright stack up? Can playwrights work effectively in a collective framework? What effect is the controversy having on the theatre ecology as a whole?

'Over the first week in February, I’m bringing together a group of playwrights, theatre practitioners and critics to discuss whether the playwright is dead, and – if not – what the challenge to his and her status will have on the theatre as a whole.'

Mr Edgar will take part in a number of events from Monday 2 February to Saturday 7 February, which are free and open to the public. On Monday he will give a lecture which presents the case for the individual playwright, but also discusses whether the primacy of the playwright is outdated and what playwrights can learn from alternative playmaking methods.

On Wednesday he will discuss the dramatist’s working methods with playwrights April de Angelis and David Greig. On Friday he will explore how playwrights collaborate in a conversation with Howard Brenton, and Bryony Lavery. On Saturday he will lead a debate on the challenge to traditional roles and hierarchies in the theatre, with critic Michael Billington, playwright Rachel De-lahay, theatremaker Chris Goode and academic Dr Liz Tomlin.

David Edgar is a renowned playwright who has written for theatre, television, radio  and film. In 1989, he founded Britain's first graduate playwriting course, at the University of Birmingham, of which he was director for ten years. He was appointed as Britain's first Professor of Playwriting in 1995. His book about playwriting, How Plays Work, was published by Nick Hern Books in 2009.

The Professorship is hosted at Brasenose College by Dr Sos Eltis of the English Faculty. Humanitas is a series of Visiting Professorships at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to both universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Created by Lord Weidenfeld, the programme is managed and funded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue with the support of a series of generous benefactors and administered by TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

For more information or to interview David Edgar, please contact Matt Pickles in the University of Oxford news office on or 01865 280532

Information about all the events and how to book a place is available on the website.