Dr Emma Cole

Senior Lecturer

School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 53246


I am a classicist and a theatre and performance studies scholar, and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Historical Society. My area of expertise lies in the performance of Greek tragedy in contemporary theatre, and I am particularly interested in experimental, immersive, and postdramatic adaptations of tragic texts. My most recent research was supported through the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, via a UKRI Innovation Fellowship titled Punchdrunk on the Classics. The research project built upon my prior work as academic consultant on Punchdrunk’s Kabeiroi (2017) and involved me going on secondment to Punchdrunk in a knowledge-exchange arrangement during which I worked as dramaturg on their production The Burnt City (2022-23). The fellowship will result in a monograph, titled Punchdrunk on the Classics: Experiencing Immersion in The Burnt City and Beyond, which is under contract with Palgrave Macmillan and estimated for publication in early 2024. My collaboration with Punchdrunk on The Burnt City was profiled in the New York Times here.

Other current research projects include an edited collection titled Experiencing Immersion in Antiquity and Modernity: From Narrative to Virtual Reality (Bloomsbury), a student edition of Euripides' Women of Troy for Methuen Drama, an invited chapter on dance, immersivity, and translation in Punchdrunk's The Burnt City and, together with Professor Chris Hay (Flinders University) a special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review on the theatre director Simon Stone.

My previous publications include the monograph Postdramatic Tragedies through the Classical Presences series at Oxford University Press (2019), and the co-edited collection Adapting Translation for the Stage (with Geraldine Brodie, for Routledge's Advances in Theatre and Performance Studies series, shortlisted for the 2019 TaPRA prize for editing). I have also published articles and chapters on Punchdrunk, Sarah Kane, Martin Crimp, and Katie Mitchell. My pieces for a general audience have appeared in popular publications including The Theatre Times, The Conversation, and Exeunt Magazine. Dictionary and encyclopedia entries include the 'drama, reception of' entry for the Oxford Classical Dictionary, and the 'Ancient Greek Drama in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century' in the Methuen Drama Encyclopedia of Modern Theatre (2024).

I joined the University of Queensland in 2023. Prior to this, I worked at the University of Bristol from 2015-2023. I received my PhD from UCL in 2015. Alongside academia, I work as a dramaturg and academic consultant on new writing and classical adaptation projects, and welcome contact from potential collaborators.

Research Impacts

My research into the reception of tragedy in contemporary theatre has inspired and informed new theatre productions, while deepening artists’, practitioners’, and audiences’ understanding of ancient tragedy. My collaborations with artists have included work on two productions with the UK's leading immersive theatre company, Punchdrunk, on Kabeiroi (2017, for which demand for tickets far surpassed capacity and led to tickets being purchased only through a lottery system) and The Burnt City (2022-23, the season for which extended twice and for which over 200, 000 tickets were sold), as well as with the Australian playwright Tom Holloway on the original trilogy Medea in Exile. My work on these projects reveals research impact upon companies and artists, leading to the co-production of new cultural artefacts and shaping the creative process in theatre.

Alongside working on these productions, I have created educational impact through interactive engagements with theatre audiences and schools, changing the public’s perceptions of ancient drama. Through collaborations with the Gate Theatre Notting Hill on post-show events (Iphigenia Quartet, 2016, and Medea, 2015) and Theatre Ad Infinitum (Beautiful Evil Things, 2022) I have widened access to research and enhanced audience understanding surrounding the classics in contemporary theatre.

My expertise on knowledge exchange and the creative industries has led to research impacts on approaches to academic/artistic collaboration. Between 2019-2020 I curated a seminar series on the topic, and in 2021 I published the open-access article 'Knowledge Exchange and the Creative Industries: A Reflective Commentary on Current Practice'.


  • Doctoral (Research) of Classics, University College London
  • Masters (Coursework) of Classics, University College London
  • Bachelor (Honours) of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • Cole, Emma (2019). Post-traumatic stress disorder and the performance reception of Sophocles’ Ajax. Looking at Ajax. (pp. 151-160) edited by David Stuttard. New York, NY, United States: Bloomsbury Academic. doi: 10.5040/9781350072336.ch-012

  • Brodie, Geraldine and Cole, Emma (2017). Introduction. Adapting translation for the stage. (pp. 1-18) edited by Geraldine Brodie and Emma Cole. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315436814-1

  • Mann, Emily, Brodie, Geraldine and Cole, Emma (2017). Multiple roles and shifting translations. Adapting translation for the stage. (pp. 263-275) edited by Geraldine Brodie and Emma Cole. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315436814-22

  • Cole, Emma (2017). Paralinguistic translation in Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love. Adapting translation for the stage. (pp. 90-103) edited by Geraldine Brodie and Emma Cole. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315436814-9

Journal Article

Other Outputs

  • Cole, Emma (Dramaturg), Barrett, Felix and Doyle, Maxine (2022). The Burnt City. London, United Kingdom: Punchdrunk.

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision