Dr Kara McKechnie

Dr Kara McKechnie


I am an Anglo-German academic with a research focus in dramaturgy and opera studies. I teach across a broad range of UG and PG modules in the School of PCI and my professional work as a dramaturg, director and translator links to my research interests and my PGR supervision. I am also involved in many public engagement activities with Leeds cultural organisations. I have contributed to the DARE Partnership between the University and Opera North on a regular basis since its inception in 2007, providing dramaturgical consultancy and public engagement activities (and co-teaching a module, Opera North - Opera in Practice, which accompanies the production process and includes rehearsal visits). I have regularly convened events and dramaturged the work of Alan Bennett at Leeds Playhouse, as well as giving regular public talks at Leeds Libraries. Work with Leeds-based Slung Low is very important to me and I dramaturged their 4-part epic Flood (Hull City of Culture 2017), Part 3 of which has won a Royal Television Society Award. I am a member of the Advisory Group for Slung Low's new venture: a pay-what-you-decide Cultural Community College.

Education and Career

Programme Manager BA (Hons) Theatre & Performance, 2014 - 2017

Postgraduate Research Tutor for the School of PCI, 2007- 2010.

Programme Manager for BA (Hons) Theatre Dramaturgy, 2000 - 2007

PhD Bursary Student:, De Montfort University Leicester, 1998 2000, supervisors: Prof. Judy Simons, Prof. Peter Davison, Dr Andy Mousley, all DMU.

Thesis: Variations on a Self. Alan Bennett's works in autobiographical, dramaturgical and narratological interpretations. (2004)

MA thesis: The Theatre of Alan Bennett, 1st class, University of Heidelberg, 1997.

Research Assistant, Department of English, Heidelberg University (Prof. Meller), 1992 - 1997.

Undergraduate/ MA student, Heidelberg University, 1990 to 1997.

Freelance work for theatre and opera in Germany and the UK as dramaturg, translator, assistant director, stage manager, 1983 to date, companies include: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North, SlungLow, Maggio Musicale (Florence), Central Opera (Colorado), Heidelberg Festival, Heidelberg Theatre, State Opera Stuttgart, Baden-Baden and Ludwigsburg Festivals, Dorset Opera.



  • Topic Leader: BA (Hons) Liberal Arts

Research interests

I have just completed an article which considers the relationship between dramaturgical practice and Practice-as-Research. It is the partner piece to Practice-as-Research based around my work on Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat, for which I was production dramaturg in 2017 (Maggio Musicale, Florence). I am also exploring 'The Backstage Shift' and the mediatisation of the backstage environment in another forthcoming article.

My illustrated monograph on Opera North (Historical and Dramaturgical Perspectives), the result of four years of archival and ethnographic research, was published by Emerald in 2014



I have also published on adaptation and opera studies for journals and edited collections, as well as making contributions to television and film studies earlier in my career.

My 2007 monograph on Alan Bennett's television work has received a lot of attention and has led to a range of creative and public engagement opportunities (Leeds Playhouse, Radio Leeds, Lichfield Festival, Society for Theatre Research et al).



I regularly write programme articles for opera and theatre (notably for Opera North's Ring Cycle, 2011 - 2016) and disseminate my knowledge via channels such as The Conversation


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


  • PhD (2004)
  • MA (1997)

Professional memberships

  • NORN (Northern Opera Research Network)
  • TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association)
  • CDE (Contemporary Drama in English)

Student education

I have worked in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries since 2000 and teach across a wide range of areas, including adaptation studies, new writing, theatre and music education (primary), theatre history and critical contexts. I am an experienced supervisor of creative practice, collaborative performance projects and postgraduate research. With a strong interest in the interdisciplinary, I also teach on the BA (Hons) Liberal Arts and co-deliver a module in collaboration with the School of Music and Opera North.

Research groups and institutes

  • BA Liberal Arts
  • Audience, Engagement & Experience
  • Performance, Training, Preparation & Pedagogy
  • Theatre at Leeds

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>