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Dr Ian Farnell

Dr Ian Farnell

Teaching Fellow, Theatre and Performance Studies

Director of Student Experience

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I am a Teaching Fellow in Theatre and Performance Studies, having completed my MA and PhD here at Warwick between 2016 and 2021. During my time as a research student, I was awarded an MPhil upon completion of my MA by Research in 2017, and my doctoral studies were funded by the Wolfson Foundation. Currently, I teach across the undergraduate programme, offering both practical and theoretical classes in a variety of subjects and specialisms. In 2022, I was awarded a Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence.

I am also an avid (if entirely average) bird photographer and can often be found in the greener parts of campus, squinting upwards.

Research interests:

Much of my current work is dedicated to the field of theatre and science fiction. Across the twenty-first century, there have been multiple plays that have drawn on science-fictional imagery and I am especially interested in how these productions are using the genre to imaginatively intervene on the social and political anxieties of the contemporary moment. Practitioners featured in my research include established playwrights (Alistair McDowall, Anne Washburn, Caryl Churchill, Nick Payne, Tajinder Singh Hayer, Dawn King), theatre companies (Unlimited Theatre, Stan's Cafe, Pipeline) and community projects (42nd Street). More broadly, I am interested in the relationship between theatre, performance and genres which, like science fiction, fall under the label of “the fantastic”, including fantasy, horror, the gothic, folklore, superheroes, and other non-realist popular forms.

I am also interested in how performance shapes working life, particularly customer service. Having spent over a decade working in retail as a way of supporting my studies, I aim to explore the ways in which customer service roles can be understood as a performance, with attendant behavioural expectations and emotional demands.


Undergraduate modules 2023/24

Theatre and Performance in Context (module convenor)

Playwriting (module convenor)

Practice-based Research Project

From Text to Performance

Research dissertation

Previous teaching

Ways of Doing

Contemporary Performance Practices

Theatre and Social Abjection

Theatre and Nation



Forthcoming: Science Fiction and Contemporary British Theatre. London: Methuen


2021: 'Theatre, Science Fiction, and Care Robots: Embodying Contemporary Experiences of Care'. Theatre Journal 73 (3): pp.373-389. DOI: 

2020: ‘Science, Science Fiction, and Nick Payne’s Elegy: A Conceptual Third Way’. Studies in Theatre and Performance 40 (2): pp. 206-223. DOI:

2019: ‘Science Fiction and the Theatre of Alistair McDowall’. Contemporary Theatre Review 29 (2): 121-137. DOI:

2019: ‘In space, no one can hear you say you didn’t “get” it: theatre, science fiction, and genre snobbery’. Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions July 2019.

2017: ‘Utopian dreams, dystopian realities in Lucy Kirkwood and Anne Washburn’. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction 46 (128): 38-47

Book chapters

Forthcoming: 'Contemporary Theatre and Medical Science Fiction'. The Edinburgh Companion to Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities, ed. Gavin Miller, Anna McFarlane and Donna McCormack. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

2019: ‘Alistair McDowall’s X: Science Fiction Theatre’. Sci-Fi: A Companion, ed. Jack Fennell. 2019. Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing


2021: 'Things are Heating Up: Reflections on Utopia, Dystopia and Climate Change, the 20th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society, Europe'. Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal 8 (2): 1-7. DOI:

2019: ‘A manual for near-future parenting: Thomas Eccleshare’s Instructions for Correct Assembly’. Fantastika 3 (1): 149-152

2017: Mars: After the Crisis review’. Fantastika Journal 1 (2): 177-179

Events organisation

2023: Conference organiser, Performing the Fantastic in Contemporary Culture, University of Warwick, 25th May

2019: Organiser and panel chair, “Staging the future”, British Science Festival, 12th September


2022: Winner, Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence

2022: Early Career Teaching Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning

2022: Early Career Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study

2021: Finalist, Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence

2020: Associate Fellowship, Advance HE

2018: Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities

Office hours

Please email me to arrange a time to chat.