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Dr Rachel Hann

Senior Lecturer

Department: Arts

Dr Rachel Hann is a cultural scenographer who researches the material cultures of performance design, climate crisis, and trans* performance. Since April 2020, Rachel has been Senior Lecturer in Performance and Design at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

'Beyond Scenography’ (Routledge, 2019) is Rachel’s first monograph and was shortlisted for the Prague Quadrennial 2019 Best Publication Prize. It provides the first theory of ‘scenographics’ as the place orientating traits of staged material cultures: from gardening to visual merchandising, installation art to theatre. Rachel has also published several chapters & peer-reviewed articles on subjects such as costume politics & the performativity of architecture.

In 2013, Rachel co-founded the biennial conference & exhibition Critical Costume. This international research network has since expanded with events in Liverpool, Helsinki, Prague, Guildford, and Oslo. Rachel has led a number of Critical Costume's core activities including co-convening the first and third main conferences, co-editorship of a special issue of Scene (Intellect) & writing the organisation’s first constitution. Her work in the formation of this network was shortlisted for the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Early Career Prize 2017 for 'leadership in costume and practice research'.

Rachel is currently supervising 13 PhD projects.
As principal supervisor at Northumbria:

  • Hannah Waters (movement practice and assemblage thinking) (funded by RDF)
  • Brighid Black (Arche-lithic performance and mines)
  • Eleanor Field (digital scenography and mess) (funded by RDF)
  • Jamie Wheeler (scenographics and performer training)

As principal supervisor at other universities: 

  • Ele Slade (social scenographics) (Surrey, funded by AHRC techne)
  • Meg Cunningham (scenography and immersive theatre) (Surrey, funded by Doctoral College)
  • Susannah Henry (autoscenography) (Guildhall)
  • Michelle Man (light and dance) (Surrey)

Co-Supervisor at Northumbria: 

  • Jo Hauge (neurodivergent performance) (funded by RDF)
  • Bryony Taylor (institutional trauma and theatre) (funded by RDF)
  • Eliza Sweeney (architecture, scenography and wellbeing) (funded by RDF)

Co-Supervisor at other universities: 

  • Will Osmond (Live Action Role Play and performance) (Surrey, funded by Doctoral College)
  • Gemma Kerr (Housing estates and performance) (Surrey, funded by AHRC techne)

Completed projects:

  • Dr James Burrows (memes and performance) (Edge Hill)
  • Dr Emma Deeks (blogs and feminism) (Edge Hill)
  • Dr Melissa Addey (historical fiction and creative writing) (Surrey)
  • Dr Kirk Woolford (PhD by publication, digital media arts and place) (Surrey)

Rachel welcomes applications for conventional & practice-as-research PhD proposals within the fields of scenography, performance in an era of climate crisis, trans* and non-binary performance, twentieth-century modernism, costume, practice research, the digital humanities (virtual archaeology), & architecture.

In terms of university leadership, Rachel has held the roles of (acting) Associate Dean (2016-2017) and thereafter Deputy Associate Dean (2017 - 2020) in the founding years of the Surrey Doctoral College. She was also the Director of Postgraduate Research for the Guildford School of Acting (2016 - 2020) having previously held the same role for the School of Arts (2015 - 2016). 

From 2013-2018, Rachel was an Executive Officer for TaPRA after having been co-convenor of the Scenography working group (2010-2013). 

Rachel Hann

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

I am a cultural scenographer researching more-than-human cultures of performance design, climate crisis, and trans* performance. 

My current research focuses on how 'world imaginations' are practiced in an era of climate crisis, which draws upon Global South epistemologies (pluriversal thinking) and ideas associated with 'new materialism' (assemblage theory). These will form the basis for my next monograph entitled Enacting Worlds: Climate Crisis Scenographics. Building on my own experiences as a transwoman, I also have an emerging interest in what trans* performance (defined as performances made by and for gender variant individuals) can offer as an approach to non-binary performance making. These research projects align in my forthcoming chapter Gender-Assemblages: The Scenographics of Victoria Sin (Analyzing Gender in Performance, Palgrave).

Research interests

  • Scenography
  • Cultural perspectives on climate crisis
  • Trans* and non-binary performance
  • Architecture
  • Costume
  • Practice Research
  • Digital Humanities (virtual archeology)
  • Modernist Performance
  • Performing Technologies

Key Publications

PGR Supervision

  • Alex Wheeler Start Date: 01/10/2021
  • Eleanor Field Start Date: 01/10/2021
  • Brighid Black Start Date: 01/10/2021
  • Hannah Waters Movement practice beyond binary thinking: reactivating the ‘lost’ practice research of Jean Spencer. Start Date: 18/01/2021


  • Philosophy PhD August 31 2011
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2010

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