Dr John Matthews

Dr John Matthews

Interim Head of School

School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



John is a leading researcher in the field of performance training and at the forefront of developing new theorisation and approaches to using emergent technology in training practice. Alongside three critically-acclaimed monographs John's most recent publications in major journals in the field innovate new use-cases for virtual and immersive technology and provide novel philosophical frameworks for evaluating and developing these. Known for applying new methodological approaches, John's two forthcoming monographs use creative computational methods to analyse the largest digitised database of critical literature in the field giving access to forms of knowledge not available in the field before. 
The inaugural Research Fellow of the Stanislavski Centre and  a recipient of an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, John has led research projects and teams with diverse stakeholders and partners including Theatre Royal Plymouth and Bloomsbury Publishing house. Through radio broadcast, online essays and guides as well as in public lectures John engages diverse audiences in cutting edge research. Still an active performer, John's first professional role was in BBC Film Drama while still a schoolboy in South Wales and his most recent parts have been on BBC Radio. 


PhD, Roehampton, University of Surrey
Supervisors: Professors Alan Read, Adrian Kear, Joe Kelleher, and Reader Simon Bayly
Examiners: Professor Adrian Heathfield and Reader Martin Welton
BA (Hons) First Class, Goldsmith College, University of London
University of London Prize for Excellence in the Field of Drama


Teaching interests

John is currently supervising PhDs in the areas of acting, training, embodiment, disability and emergent technology in training practices. 

Staff serving as external examiners

John has served as an External Examiner for programmes at UK HEI as well as for PhD level students at University of London. He has served on QQA Audit panels and validation events in addition to writing new programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. 


Research interests

John's research interests include acting and training theory and practice as well as philosophy of performance. His most recent published work has focused on performance ontology and the role of temporality in training, and his most recent funded research projects have been in virtual, immersive and wearable technology in and for actor training.

Grants & contracts

Story Futures National Centre for Immersive Story-telling Project Grant
WaterCourse: Immersive Acting Training for Virtual Production engage STEAM approaches through exploration of climate change using flood data visualisation. Watercourse places actors within a visualisation of dramatic precincts as they become flooded.
AHRC Leadership Research Fellowship, 2013-2015
A monograph and a series of related video artworks that illustrate aspects of the embodied experience of training accompanying each chapter. The fellowship also includes the development of a workshop series for professional theatre makers at Theatre Royal Plymouth based on the findings of the research, sensitizing performance trainers to how they train.
Research Fellowship of the Stanislavski Centre, 2009-2011
inaugural Fellow of the Stanislavski Centre and for two year term. Working with the archives and expertise of the centre to produce a series of articles for Stanislavksi Studies journal. 

Creative practice & artistic projects

John's most recent artistic project has been for a BBC radio 4 xtra production about the journey of the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower from Plymouth to America


Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Matthews J (2023) 'Actor training underwater in the future' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 1-17 , DOI Open access
Matthews J & De Guevara VL (2019) 'Auditions and … more auditions' Stanislavski Studies 7, (2) 145-158 , DOI Open access
Ladron de Guevara VM & Matthews J (2018) 'Auditions and..' Stanislavski Studies , DOI Open access
Matthews J & Ladron de Guevara V (2017) 'Auditions and stress' Stanislavski Studies 5, (2) 217-231 , DOI Open access
Matthews J (2012) 'What is a Workshop?' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Matthews J (2009) 'Acting Freely' Performance Research 14, (2)
Matthews J (2019) The Life of Training. Methuen Drama
Matthews J (2019) The Life of Training. Bloomsbury Publishing , DOI
Matthews J (2014) Anatomy of Performance Training.
Matthews J (2011) Training for Performance. Methuen Drama


Reports & invited lectures

‘HEART’, radio broadcast of a public lecture on Resonance FM ‘BODY OF WORK’ a five part, week long series of ‘lunchtime lectures at The Old Operating Theatre Museum, London 
'THE SIGNIFICANCE OF STRESS IN DRAMA SCHOOL TRAINING’ Research Seminars on Theory, Practice & History of Performance at Goldsmiths University of London
‘TRAINING IN THE CLINIC, THE CLOISTER AND THE STUDIO’, Spirituality, Education and Exegesis Lecture Series at Liverpool Hope University
‘ASKEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS’, How To Act, international conference at Central School of Speech and Drama
‘THE BODY IN THE MAGIC BOX’ The Centre of Theatre Research in Europe at Roehampton University
‘INSCRIBING THE PALIMPSEST FLESH’ The Changing Body Symposium, international conference at Exeter University

Conferences organised

Material Engagements Conference,  British Library Sound Archive, Dec06 – May 07, Co-organiser 

Other academic activities

John reviews proposals and manuscripts for Bloomsbury, Methuen Drama and Palgrave MacMillan publishing houses as well as peer reviewing papers for Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and the Stanislavski Studies journal. 

Additional information

John enjoys open water swimming in the beautiful Plymouth Sound, and cycling to work.