Dr Joslin McKinney

Dr Joslin McKinney


Building on 10 years experience as a set and costume designer and research into scenography at Masters and PhD level, I have been actively contributing to the development of scenography as an area of academic study internationally. I am the lead author of the Cambridge Introduction to Scenography (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and co-editor of Scenography Expanded: An Introduction to Contemporary Performance Design (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2017). In June 2015 I was appointed to chair the international jury for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. I am a member of the AHRC peer-review college.

After graduating from Nottingham Trent University I was awarded an Arts Council bursary to become assistant designer at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield where I designed productions including Amadeus (dir: Clare Venables), Top Girls (dir: Jane Collins) and Canterbury Tales (dir: Stephen Daldry). My practice-based PhD, The Nature of Communication Between Scenography and its Audiences, investigated the ways audiences respond to scenography. I devised art and performance-based methods for exploring and gathering responses to scenographic performance and used theories of phenomenology, space, psychoanalysis and art to frame and interrogate the work. In this work I propose a theory of scenographic exchange whereby the images and objects in performance provide a site connection and meaning making which relies on the creative engagement of each member of the audience.

I am the lead author of The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and the author of chapters and articles on spectacle, phenomenology,the materiality of scenography and scenographic research methods which have contributed to the emerging field of scenography internationally. I am the co-editor of Scenography Expanded: An Introduction to Contemporary Performance Design (Bloomsbury Methuen, 2017). With Scott Palmer (University of Leeds) and Stephen Di Benedetto (University of Miami) I am co-editor of the Performance + Design book series for Bloomsbury Methuen.

I was Director of Learning and Teaching for the School of Performance and Cultural Industries from 2008-2011, Deputy Head of School 2015-2019, Acting Director of Research and Innovation 2016-17 and Acting Head of School 2017-2018.  I am currently Programme Leader for MA Performance Design.

I was co-convenor of the Scenography working group for the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) 2005-2008, and I am currently the UK representative for the Research Commission for the Organisation Internationale des Scenografes, Techniciens et Architectes de Theatre (OISTAT). With Mick Wallis I was co-director of the Performance Studies international 2012 conference which attracted over 550 delegates to the University of Leeds. Mick and I also led the development of a new festival of international performance, Ludus Festival Leeds, 25 June-1 July 2012, by bringing together key cultural providers in the city to produce 21 events aimed at a wide range of Leeds audiences. In June 2015 I was appointed to chair the international jury for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. I am a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (ARHC) peer-review college.


  • Programme Leader MA Performance Design
  • Postgraduate Taught Tutor

Research interests

Research methods for scenography

The phenomenology of scenography in performance

The spectators experience of performance/scenography and the 'scenographic exchange'

Immersive theatre and the experience of active spectatorship

Constructions (machines, devices, artefacts and settings) as part of the processes of making, presenting, witnessing and participating in performance.

Materiality and  agency in scenography.

Performance/scenography and place.

Human/technology interface; applying knowledge about scenography in contexts beyond the stage; interdisciplinary approaches

<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 , Leeds
  • MA by research, Nottingham Trent University
  • PGCE (Art and Design), Bretton Hall College
  • BA(Hons) Theatre Design, Nottingham Trent University

Student education

I teach modules on the MA Performance Design programme and I lead undergraduate modules in Performance Design.

Research groups and institutes

  • Audience, Engagement & Experience
  • Place & Performance

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>