Associate Professor Jonathan Bollen
Associate Professor

Associate Professor Jonathan Bollen

PhD (UWS) 2000

BA Hons (Sydney) 1994

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of the Arts and Media

I am Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW Sydney.

My research in theatre studies is about performance, mobility and desire. Recently I have been studying the regional development of international touring, entrepreneurial diplomacy and commercial entertainment by mapping the touring circuits that stretched across Asia and the Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s. 

I am the author of Touring Variety in the Asia Pacific Region, 1946–1975 (Palgrave 2020) and co-author of Visualising Lost Theatres: Virtual Praxis and the Recovery of Performance Spaces (Cambridge UP, 2022), A Global Doll's House: Ibsen and Distant Visions (Palgrave 2016) and Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre since the 1950s (Rodopi 2008). I have also published on data models for theatre research and the network-cartography of theatre production.

My research has contributed to the AusStage database for Australian performance, the IbsenStage database at the University of Oslo, and the Philippine Performance Archive at the University of the Philippines. I am a research advisor on the international Dunham's Data project on 'digital methods for dance historical inquiry' and I lead the Performance Memories partnership between UNSW Library and the Dennis Wolanski Foundation.

I welcome enquiries to supervise postgraduate research in Australian theatre, popular entertainment, international touring, digital methods, performance studies, and queer performance. I also welcome proposals for the book series on Australian drama, theatre and performance published by Brill.

+ 61 2 9385 0719
246D, Level 2 Robert Webster
  • Books | 2022
    2022, Visualising Lost Theatres Virtual Praxis and the Recovery of Performance Spaces, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
    Books | 2022
    Tompkins J; Holledge J; Bollen J; Xia L, 2022, Visualising Lost Theatres, Cambridge University Press,
    Books | 2020
    2020, Touring Variety in the Asia Pacific Region, 1946-1975, Palgrave Macmillan,
    Books | 2016
    Holledge J; Bollen J; Helland F; Tompkins J, 2016, A Global Doll's House: Ibsen and Distant Visions, Palgrave Macmillan UK,
    Books | 2008
    Bollen JJ; Kiernander A; Parr B, 2008, Men at Play: Masculinities in Australia Theatre since the 1950s, Australian Playwrights, Rodopi, Amsterdam & New York,
  • Book Chapters | 2021
    2021, 'Visualizing the Entrepreneurial Networks of International Entertainment: The Dalrays Touring Beyond the Tivoli, 1956-66', in Garde U; Severn JR (ed.), Theatre and Internationalization Perspectives from Australia, Germany, and Beyond, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon and New York, pp. 55 - 71,
    Book Chapters | 2012
    Bollen JJ, 2012, 'From Theatrical Nostalgia to Modernist Design: Nightclubs as Venues for Live Entertainments in Mid-20th-Century Australia', in Arrighi G; Emeljanow V (ed.), A World of Popular Entertainments: An Edited Volume of Critical Essays, pp. 68 - 82
    Book Chapters | 2009
    Bollen JJ, 2009, 'White men, wet dreams: fishing, fatherhood and finitude in Australian theatre, 1955-2004', in Hosking S; Hosking R; Pannell R; Bierbaum N (ed.), Something Rich and Strange: Sea changes, beaches and the littoral in the Antipodes, Wakefield Press, Adelaide
    Book Chapters | 2008
    Bollen JJ, 2008, 'Dressing up and growing up: rehearsals on the threshold of intelligibility', in Davies B (ed.), Judith Butler in Conversation, Routledge, pp. 217 - 234
    Book Chapters | 2007
    Bollen JJ, 2007, 'As Seen On TV: Kinaesthetic cross-over and the animation of social dance pedagogy', in Lyons J; Plunkett J (ed.), Multimedia Histories, pp. 98 - 113
    Book Chapters | 2006
    Bollen JJ, 2006, 'Boxing the man: fighting the choreography of gender, race and generation in recent Australian theatre', in Kiernander A; Bollen JJ; Bruce P (ed.), What A Man's Gotta Do? Masculinities in Performance, pp. 152 - 169
    Book Chapters | 2005
    Bollen JJ, 2005, 'How to stand out on a dance floor', in Critical Issues 9: Exploding Dandy, Artspace, Sydney, pp. 51 - 75
    Book Chapters | 2001
    Bollen JJ, 2001, 'Queer kinaesthesia: Performativity on the dance floor', in Desmond J (ed.), Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexualities On and Off the Stage, University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 285 - 314
    Book Chapters | 2000
    Bollen JJ, 2000, 'Animated suspension: Moving bodies and the choreography of community', in Tait P (ed.), Body Show/s, Rodopi, pp. 187 - 198
  • Edited Books | 2006
    2006, What a Man's Gotta Do? Masculinities in Performance, CALLTS, Armidale
  • Journal articles | 2021
    2021, 'Putting virtual theatre models to work: ‘virtual praxis’ for performance research in theatre history', Theatre and Performance Design, 7, pp. 6 - 23,
    Journal articles | 2021
    2021, 'Visualising the Story of Theatre in Sydney: Venues, Repertoire and Change, 1920–2020', Australasian Drama Studies, 78, pp. 72 - 109
    Journal articles | 2020
    2020, 'Digging up the remains of King Oedipus: Performance memories at University of New South Wales', University Museums and Collections Journal, 12, pp. 70 - 76,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Bollen J, 2018, '‘As Modern as Tomorrow’: Australian Entrepreneurs and Japanese Entertainment, 1957–1968', Theatre Research International, 43, pp. 147 - 164,
    Journal articles | 2018
    2018, 'NADOC and the National Aborigines Day in Sydney, 1957–67', Aboriginal History Journal, 42, pp. 3 - 30,
    Journal articles | 2017
    Bollen JJ, 2017, 'Revisiting and Re-imagining The One Day of the Year', Southerly: a review of Australian literature, 77, pp. 92 - 105,;dn=134895469944830;res=IELLCC
    Journal articles | 2017
    2017, 'Then and Now – Sorlie's Tour to Broken Hill in 1960', Popular Entertainment Studies, 8, pp. 54 - 72,
    Journal articles | 2016
    2016, 'Data Models for Theatre Research: People, Places, and Performance', Theatre Journal (Baltimore), 68, pp. 615 - 632,
    Journal articles | 2014
    2014, 'From The Silver Lining to The Roaring Days!: Amateur theatre and social class in Broken Hill, 1940s-1960s', Australasian Drama Studies, 2014, pp. 257 - 276,;dn=257722442078030;res=IELAPA
    Journal articles | 2014
    2014, 'Sex, gender and the industrial: Plays performed by Broken Hill Repertory Society', Australasian Drama Studies, 64, pp. 277 - 296,
    Journal articles | 2013
    2013, 'Here from There - travel, television and touring revues: internationalism as entertainment in the 1950s and 1960s', Popular Entertainment Studies, 4, pp. 64 - 81,
    Journal articles | 2013
    2013, 'Show girls and choreographers in Australian entertainment – the transition to night clubs, 1946-1967', Australasian Drama Studies, 63, pp. 52 - 68,
    Journal articles | 2011
    Bollen J; Holledge J, 2011, 'Hidden dramas: Cartographic revelations in the world of theatre studies', Cartographic Journal, 48, pp. 226 - 236,
    Journal articles | 2010
    Bollen J, 2010, 'Don't Give Up the Strip! : erotic performance as live entertainment in mid-twentieth century Australia', Journal of Australian Studies, 34, pp. 125 - 140,
    Journal articles | 2010
    2010, 'Cross-dressed and crossing-over from stage to television', Media International Australia, 134, pp. 141 - 150
    Journal articles | 2009
    Bollen JJ, 2009, 'Maybe we're not human: Translating actions and affects between humans and machines in Australian Dance Theatre's Devolution', Brolga: an Australian journal about dance, 31, pp. 9 - 18
    Journal articles | 2009
    2009, 'AusStage: eResearch in the Performing Arts', Australasian Drama Studies, 54, pp. 178 - 194
    Journal articles | 2006
    Bollen JJ; McInnes D, 2006, 'What do you like to do? Gay sex and the politics of interaffectivity', Gay and Lesbian Issues in Psychology Review, 2, pp. 107 - 113
    Journal articles | 2005
    Bollen JJ, 2005, 'Remembering masculinities in the theatre of war', Australasian Drama Studies, 46, pp. 3 - 19
    Journal articles | 2004
    Bollen J; McInnes D, 2004, 'Time, relations and learning in gay men's experiences of adventurous sex', Social Semiotics, 14, pp. 21 - 36,
    Journal articles | 2001
    Bollen JJ, 2001, 'Performance studies: A tour through the field', Australasian Drama Studies, 39, pp. 125 - 139
    Journal articles | 2001
    Dowsett GW; Bollen J; McInnes D; Couch M; Edwards B, 2001, 'HIV/AIDS and constructs of gay community: Researching educational practice within community-based health promotion for gay men', International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 4, pp. 205 - 223,
    Journal articles | 2000
    2000, 'Learning on the job: metaphors of choreography and the practice of sex in sex-on-premises venues', Venereology : official publication of the National Venereology Council of Australia, 13, pp. 27 - 36
    Journal articles | 1999
    Couch M; Dowsett G; McInnes D; Bollen JJ; Edwards B, 1999, 'HIV/AIDS health promotion: strategic deployment of 'gay community' in the framework of the National Public Health Partnership', Third Sector Review, 5, pp. 81 - 89
    Journal articles | 1997
    Bollen JJ, 1997, ''What a queen's gotta do': Queer performativity and the rhetorics of performance', Australasian Drama Studies, pp. 106 - 123
    Journal articles | 1996
    Bollen JJ, 1996, 'The parties are for us', Xtext, 1, pp. 48 - 53
    Journal articles | 1996
    1996, 'Sexing the dance at Sleaze Ball 1994', TDR: the journal of performance studies, 40, pp. 166 - 191,
    Journal articles | 1995
    Bollen JJ, 1995, 'Laughing at the difference: theories of translation in rehearsal', About Performance, 1, pp. 47-56
  • Other | 2022
    2022, Editorial: Queer Performance, Australasian Drama Studies, ,
    Other | 2020
    2020, Doctoral Defense: Henrik Ibsen in the American Theatre, 1879–1914, Ibsen Studies, ,
    Other | 2020
    Other | 2019
    2019, Book review of Australian Theatre, Modernism and Patrick White: Governing Culture, Australasian Drama Studies, ,;dn=381739386983330;res=IELAPA
    Other | 2019
    2019, Editorial, Popular Entertainment Studies,
    Other | 2013
    2013, Book review of Wild and Dangerous Performances: Animals, Emotions, Circus., Cambridge University Press, ,
    Other | 2011
    2011, Australia Dances: Creating Australian Dance, 1945-1965 – Alan Brissenden and Keith Glennon' (book review),
    Other | 2009
    2009, Belonging: Australian Playwriting in the Twentieth Century – John McCallum’ (book review),
    Other | 2008
    2008, Book review of Power Plays: Australian Theatre and the Public Agenda, CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, ,
    Other | 2003
    2003, The Seventies: the Age of Glitter in Popular Culture by Shelton Waldrep (book review),
    Other | 1995
    1995, Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity by Mark Simpson (book review),

I have been Chief Investigator on two Discovery Projects: ‘Ibsen Between Cultures: The Australian Experience’ ($124,000 DP0988350) and ‘Marking Masculinity in Australian Theatre’ ($279,925 DP0210510), for which I was awarded an ARC post-doctoral fellowship. The major outcomes of these grants are my books: A Global Doll’s House: Ibsen and Distant Visions (Palgrave 2016) and Men at Play: Masculinities in Australian Theatre since the 1950s (Rodopi 2008).

I am currently Chief Investigator on an ARC LIEF project for the AusStage database (LE210100007 $566,523). I was Chief Investigator on three prior ARC LIEF projects for the AusStage database ($300,000 LE0775527; $650,000 LE100100028; $325,000 LE140100024). I also attracted funding for AusStage from other sources, including the substantial Aus-e-Stage project funded by the National eResearch Architecture Taskforce through the NCRIS Platforms for Collaboration program ($500,000), the Australian National Data Service ($65,000) and the Australian Access Federation ($40,000).

In recent years I have received grants from the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan for the Mobility Project 'Creative Production in Metro Manila: Cultural Performance and Digital Cultures' in 2019 ($49,500) and 2021 ($49,500).

I was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from the Australian Research Council (2002-2004) and a research fellowship by the National Film and Sound Archive (2008). 

My book on Touring Variety in the Asia Pacific Region, 1946–1975 was awarded the Rob Jordan Prize in 2022 by the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies for the best book on a subject related to drama or theatre studies. My work on the Performing Sydney project was awarded the Flinders University AusStage prize in 2021. 

My journal articles have received various awards. The International Association for Australian Studies awarded the 2010 John Barrett Award for Australian Studies for my article ‘Don’t Give Up the Strip!: Erotic performance as live entertainment in mid-twentieth century Australia’ in the Journal of Australian Studies, 34/2 (2010): 125-140.

The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies awarded the 2006 Marlis Thiersch Award for Research in Theatre Studies for my article ‘Remembering masculinities in the theatre of war' in Australasian Drama Studies, 46 (2005): 3-19. My doctoral research won the The Drama Review Student Essay Contest and was published as ‘Sexing the dance at Sleaze Ball 1994’, TDR, 40/3 (Fall 1996): 166-191.

In 2020 I received the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Programs that Enhance Learning through Innovation in Curriculum Design and Pedagogical Practice with colleagues in Theatre and Performance Studies.

In current research, I follow the careers of artists working in theatre, television and nightclubs and I search in archives, newspapers, photographs and films to find traces of their acts. I explore how versatile artists adapted the variety of their acts for international touring and how their entrepreneurial endeavours became harnessed to government agendas promoting national distinction.

In other research I focus on Australian theatre and the repertoire of plays in production since the 1950s. I read play scripts, theatre reviews and production archives to understand how productions of new plays transform Australian culture. I also have experience in the digital humanities, developing new methodologies for theatre research at scales ranging from local theatrical activity to global touring networks.

I have run research seminars on analysing cultural data and digital methods in theatre research. I offer tailored advice on data visualisation and analysis to researchers working with AusStage.

At UNSW I am leading the Performance Memories partnership between UNSW Library and the Dennis Wolanski Foundation. The partnership aims to improve access for research to the extensive Dennis Wolanski Library collection (1,600 archive boxes) through collection management and progressive digitisation.

I am series editor for the book series on Australian playwrights and Australian drama, theatre and performance published by Brill. I am also co-editor of Popular Entertainment Studies, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the investigation of all aspects of popular entertainments.

I am a member of the International Federation for Theatre Research and a participant in the Popular Entertainments working group. I am also a member of the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies and held a series of leadership roles as Conference Co-convenor, 2020 and 2013, President, 2006-2008, Vice-president, 2005-2006, and Executive member, 2004-2005. 

I am a board member of PACT Centre for Emerging Artists in Sydney. I was a member of the Artistic Advisory Committee for Milk Crate Theatre in Sydney from 2017 to 2022. 

I reviewed contemporary theatre and dance in Adelaide for RealTime from 2006 to 2013.

My Research Supervision

PhD current

Mitchell Whitehead – The Politics and Aesthetics of Performative Interrogations into Australian Colonial and National Discourses as a Non-Indigenous Australian Artist (joint supervisor)

Alexandra Talamo – The aesthetic frameworks, embodied knowledges and political contexts of second-generation Latin American migrant performance art (joint supervisor)

Nathan Jackson – A performative analysis of video game livestreaming (secondary supervisor)

Lisa Synnott – Interrogating the meaning of 'authorship' and 'ownership' in choreographic practice (joint supervisor)

Richard Hunter –  From Bennelong Point to Poverty Point and Return: A Cultural Topography of Entertainment in Sydney (primary supervisor)

Frieda Lee – How can the subsidised model of Australian theatre evolve to encourage entertainment, enterprise and audience engagement? (joint supervisor)

PhD completed at UNSW

Mara Davis – Australian musical theatre in the 21st century (primary supervisor)

Linan Xian – Strategies for Enhancing Stage Presence in Theatre Today: An Actor-Director’s Perspective (primary supervisor)

Mary-Anne Gifford – Vaudeville: The Last Theatre of the Working Class (joint supervisor)

MRes current

Billy Kanafani – Category is: An ethnographic study of Ballroom culture in Sydney (primary supervisor)

My Teaching

I regularly teach ARTS1120 Experiencing Theatre, ARTS2123 Musicals, Dance and Popular Culture, and ARTS3125 Performance and Media at UNSW. I was the convenor for Theatre and Performance Studies in the School of the Arts and Media, 2016–2019. In recent years, I have also taught ARTS1121 The Life of Performance and ARTS2121 Theatre in Our Times.

In 2020 I received funding from the Australian Government New Colombo Plan to take UNSW students to the Philippines for ARTS2129 Creative Production in Manila. As stream convenor I led the introduction of HUMS1006 Presentation and Communication Skills as a course available to all UNSW students.

Previously I have taught courses in theatre history, performance analysis, dramaturgy, live performance and dance. I have run studio workshops on physical theatre and ensemble improvisation. And I have led postgraduate seminars on performance research, theatre historiography and visualising cultural data.