Professor Jane Plastow


I am primarily an Africanist with special interests in African theatre, African literature, education, development studies and politics.

Research Interests 

I am primarily an Africanist with special interests in African theatre, African literature, education, development studies and politics. I am also concerned with women's studies in Africa and worldwide with Theatre for Development. I have particularly strong links with East Africa and the Horn of Africa; especially Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, in all of which I have worked in recent years. I also work as a theatre director, usually but not exclusively in the area of African theatre, and teach across a range of courses dealing with contemporary theatrical practice. 

I am currently engaged with a number of projects. I am working on three book projects. My History of East African Theatre is coming out in two volumes; the first hopefully in 2020 which will deal with the theatres of the Horn of Africa; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia/Somaliland. I’ve also been leading AHRC and British Academy funded projects  exploring using the arts in relation to gender and reproductive health education in Jinja, and working with doctors on an MRC funded project to use video to explore whether fact or fiction films engage audiences most in discussing contraception in Uganda. In neighbouring Kenya I’ve led projects training teachers to make video films with pupils, used theatre to research grassroots understandings of problems with state provision of maternity services, and made a documetnary film, ‘Sunset at Dawn’ for Kenyan televsion about the problems with state maternity service provision.

Research Students 

I supervise a wide range of PhD students; many of whom are usually international. My central focus is on African arts and literature, but i also supervise quite a lot of other Applied Arts projects. At present i have students working on African dance, actor training in Nigeria, poetry and jazz/blues women in the USA, prison theatre in Zimbabwe, and a study using theatre workshops to understand the experience of black British men in the psychiatric system. Many of my students are working on Practice as Research PhDs. I am happy to discuss ideas with prospective students.

Recent Publications

2019, with Paul Cooke and Simon Peter Otieno, ‘Challenging the Message of the Medium: Scaling participatory Arts Projects and the Creativity Agenda in Kenya’, in Participatory Arts in International Development. Editors: Cooke P, Soria-Donlan I . 72-86. Routledge, Oxford

2019, ‘The Politics of African Shakespeare’, in The Routledge Handbook of Shakespeare and Global Appropriation. Editors: Jacobson M, Iyengar S . Routledge,

2018, ‘Fear and Trepidation in Asmara: Meeting Ngugi’,  In Ngugi: Reflections on his Life of Writing. Editors: Gikandi S, Wachanga N . James Currey (Boydell & Brewer), Oxford 

2017, with Martin Banham, African Theatre: Six Plays from East and West Africa, james Currey: Oxford

2017, with Katie McQuaid, ‘Ethnography Applied: Theatre and Stiwanism: Creative methods in Search of praxis Amongst Men and Women in Jinja, Uganda’, Journal of International Development 29(7):961-980

2017 with Katie McQuaid, ‘From Research to Activism:  Theatre and Anthropology in Walukba’, Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques:    

2016, ‘Teatro Asmara: understanding Eritrean drama through the study of a national theatre’, Journal of African Cultural Studies.

2015, African Theatre: Contemporary Women, ed with Yvette Hutchison and Christine Matzke, (Oxford: James Currey). Includes Susan Kiguli and Jane Plastow, ‘Exploring Poetic Voice in the Uganda Women’s Intergenerational Theatre Project’, Jane Plastow and Mahlet Solomon, ‘Contemporary Ethiopia Actresses.

2015, ‘The Faithful Copyist or the Good Thief’, in eds Kafewo SA, Iorapuu TJ, Dandaura ES, Theatre Unbound: Reflections on theatre for development and social change, (Zaria: Ahmadu Bello Press) 52-61

2015, ‘Embodiment, Intellect, and Emotion: Thinking about possible impacts of Theatre for Development in three projects in Africa’, eds Alex Flynn & Jonas Tinius, Anthropology, Theatre, and Development: The transformative potential of performance, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) 107-126

2014, ‘Domestication or Transformation: The Ideology of theatre for development in Africa’, Applied Theatre Research, 2:2, 107-118





<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Literary studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>