Our projects

Our projects

Theatre and Internationalisation

The theatre continues to be one of the public institutions where we jointly engage with questions about who we are and who we want to be. These questions, as well as their associated artistic practices and institutional frameworks, have been and continue to be marked by processes of internationalisation.

The project ‘Theatre and Internationalisation’ considers theatre, performance, opera, operetta and the musical (under the broader umbrella term of theatre) in the context of internationalisation asking:

How has internationalisation affected the processes and aesthetics of theatre? And how has theatre responded dramatically and thematically to internationalisation in the world beyond the stage?

Through conferences, seminars, public panel discussions and scholarly publications we provide a forum for exploring and theorising the complexity and wide spread of internationalisation in theatrical terms. Approaching the topic through examples of practice, individual studies and joint discussions we consider specific historical and contemporary aspects of the international flows of influence, practices, people, funds and works.

Current sub-projects

  • “Beyond Cultural Borders: Barrie Kosky's Rethinking of Community in Artistic and Practical Terms” (John Severn)
  • “Multilingualism on the Berlin Stage” (Ulrike Garde)
  • “Staging Migration in Berlin” (Ulrike Garde, John Severn)
  • “Assessing the Economic and Cultural Value of Australian Theatre” (David Throsby, John Severn)

For further information please contact Ulrike Garde and/or John Severn.

Past Events

Event sign 26 April 2019: Goethe-Institut, Sydney. Conference Day 1, followed by:

  • Felix von Boehm’s documentary film “Der Opernmagier Barrie Kosky: Monsieur Butterfly” with English subtitles.
  • Public panel discussion about theatre & internationalisation and Barrie Kosky. Panellists: Sally Blackwood, Johannes Birgfeld, Sonja Griegoschewski, Michael Halliwell, Günther Heeg, Elena Kats-Chernin, John Severn. Chair: Ulrike Garde.

27 April 2019: Macquarie University. Conference Day 2.


  • Ulrike Garde and John R. Severn, eds. Theatre and Internationalization: Perspectives from Australia, Germany and Beyond. Forthcoming: Routledge.
  • Ulrike Garde and John R. Severn, “Theatre and Internationalization”, in Ulrike Garde and John R. Severn, eds. Theatre and Internationalization: Perspectives from Australia, Germany and Beyond. Forthcoming: Routledge.
  • Ulrike Garde, “Negotiating Unfamiliar Languages and Accents in Contemporary Theatre”, in Ulrike Garde and John R. Severn, eds. Theatre and Internationalization: Perspectives from Australia, Germany and Beyond. Forthcoming: Routledge.
  • John R. Severn, “1930s Berlin Jazz Operetta and Internationalization Then and Now: Risks, Ethics, Aesthetics”, in Ulrike Garde and John R. Severn, eds. Theatre and Internationalization: Perspectives from Australia, Germany and Beyond. Forthcoming: Routledge.
  • John R. Severn and James Phillips (UNSW), eds. Special journal issue on Barrie Kosky, forthcoming.

Precarious Borders: The Nation-State and Arab Diaspora Literature

This project aims to shed new light on the range and depth with which diaspora and postcolonial literatures mediate and reimagine the idea of the nation-state. Arab literary writing is closely tied to its diaspora, making it particularly significant for considering how literature registers the transformative effects of migration and border transgression on our understanding of the nation.

Tracing a century-long arc from 1911 when the first Arab diaspora novel emerged, and spanning the four diaspora sites of Australia, Canada, the US and UK, this project's will provide a cultural history of the Arab diaspora novel in English and the vital repositioning of marginalised Arab-Australian writing within this field of global literature.

For further information please contact: Jumana Bayeh

Reading Otherness

A three-year study carried out by the Australia Council in 2017 found that only 41% of Australians sampled could be considered regular readers. Time poverty, the avoidance of solitude and a preference for internet entertainment are noted as the major hindrances to engaging in the act of reading (Austin).

Existential thought offers a concrete, humanistic reason to read. Jean-Paul Sartre in an ontological analysis of the exchange of ‘the look’ in Being and Nothingness conceptualizes a dyadic structure that fixes us in alternating object-subject positions in relation to other people. Our ‘being-the-world’ prevents us from ever knowing the subjectivity of the other as our own. Yet through the imaginative displacement inherent in the act of reading and reading alone, we can indeed become the other-as-subject; for reading a first person narrative allows one to say ‘I’ and mean another.

This project therefore adopts an existential reading strategy that purposefully seeks to inhabit this otherness to contravene implicit rules that silence diasporic voices in the context of national literatures.

For further information please contact: Alex Kurmann

Rioting and the Literary Archive

An Australia Research Council Discovery Project  (ARCDP) with Professor Helen Groth (UNSW) and Professor Julian Murphet (UNSW)

This project will examine writers' enduring engagement with both the riot's destructive energy and transformative potential. Tracing a long arc from the 18th Century novel to recent multi-medial narratives generated in the wake of the Arab Spring, Rioting and the Literary Archive will uncover a history largely ignored by literary scholars.

Recent claims that we are living in a 'time of riots' throw the significance of this literary archive and its retrospective re-enactment of emblematic riots into sharp relief. Drawing together writing from Britain, America, Australia and the Middle East this project will mobilise the literary archive as a dynamic evolving analytical tool for understanding the resurgence of the riot in a contemporary global context.

For further information please contact: Jumana Bayeh

Transdiasporic Historicity in Cultural Production by the Global Vietnamese Diaspora

This project seeks to position refugees and migrants as the literary figures of our time through a new theoretical paradigm it calls “Transdiasporic Literature”. It facilitates the study of multilingual texts produced by globally dispersed peoples in the first interdisciplinary case study to bring literary and cultural production by Vietnamese refugees and migrants in North America, France, Australia and Germany into dialogue.

Deploying the triplicate meaning of ‘trans’ in transdiasporic the project initiates readings of works produced across the global Vietnamese diaspora, through an interdisciplinary lens, and beyond the dichotomous division between individual nations of settlement and the remembered homeland. The analysis of texts produced in the West after French colonization and the Vietnam War by three generations of overseas Vietnamese reveals a shared “historical return” in the multilingual production of the diaspora. A comparative literature approach is adopted to trace the various ways in which contemporary texts, namely the novel, the documentary film, and the graphic novel, are being deployed to re-present diasporic history in the twenty-first century.

For further information please contact: Alex Kurmann

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