Creating links and exchanging theatre


James McLaughlin

Research Interest


  • Comedy - James is a specialist in the field of comedic performance, especially the improvisation of Keith Johnstone and Del Close. Drawing on his experience of improvisation in this field (The Improv Society Incorporated, The Covert Theatre, and Slap in the Face Theatre), he is exploring the impact narratives of this form of performance.

  • Method Acting - He has a second specialty in American Method Acting and the Stanislavski tradition, especially the Meisner Technique, Strasberg's Method Acting, and Stella Adler's approach to acting. Through his PhD he has researched the resonances and connections between the modern realist paradigm of theatre and postmodern performance of the late Twentieth Century.

  • Intercultural Performance - developed from his time on the MA in Theatre Practice at the University of Exeter under Phillip Zarrilli and has been extended through his development of the Other Stages module on the Drama Programme at the University of Greenwich.  He is currently forming a network of practitioners working in this field for the exchange of ideas and practices.

Conference Papers


  • McLaughlin, James. (2018) ‘System or Ecology: A Critique of the Creative Industries.’ Performer Training Working Group, TAPRA annual conference, Aberystwyth , 5 September – 7 September, 2018.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2017) ‘Stepping of the Cliff: The Sharp Divide between Training and Performance in Improvised Comedy.’ Performer Training Working Group, TAPRA annual conference, Salford, 30 August – 1 September, 2017.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2014) ‘The Spontaneity Drain: The social pressures that shaped and then exiled Keith Johnstone's improvisation.’ Comedy and Society Symposium. School of Drama, Music and Screen, University of Hull, 22 November, 2014.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2014) ‘The Censor Without, The Censor Within: The Resistance of Johnstone’s Improv to the Social and Political Pressures of 1950s Britain.’ Popular Performance Working Group, TAPRA annual conference, Royal Holloway, September 35, 2014.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2014) ‘Meisner’s Repetition Exercise: Towards a subjective ethics for the performative moment.’ Obligations in Contemporary Theatre and Performance Practices Conference, Exeter, 30 January, 2014.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2013) ‘Re-constructed Narratives of Embodiment: The Meisner Technique through Sanford Meisner on Acting.’ Performer Training Working Group, TAPRA annual conference, Glasgow, September 4-6, 2013.



  • (Forthcoming) McLaughlin, James (2019). ‘Harnessing the Blogosphere in the Training Studio’ in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Special Issue, ‘Digital Training’ Paul Allain (eds), 10(1), London: Taylor and Francis.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2018). ‘Phantom Scripts: The censor’s Archive and the Phantom Scripts of Improvisation’ in Performance Research, Special Issue, ‘On Writing and Performance’ Ric Allsopp and Julieanna Preston (eds.), 23(2), London: Routledge.

  • McLaughlin, James. (2013). ‘Why is Improv Funny?’ in Comedy Studies, Chris Ritchie (ed.), 4(1), Bristol: Intellect.

Professional Affiliates


  • Co-editor of the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training blog ( )

  • Associate Editor of the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal.

  • Co-Convenor of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Performer Training Working Group.

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.