Professor Peta

Professor Peta Tait

Professor, Professor of Theatre and Drama

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

Humanities and Social Sciences

HU2 429, Melbourne (Bundoora)


BA (Monash), M.A. (UNSW,) PhD (UTS).



Membership of professional associations

(PSI) Performance Studies International. (ATHE) Association of Theatre in Higher Education.

Area of study

Australian Studies
Creative Arts
Theatre and Drama

Brief profile

 Professor Peta Tait is an academic scholar and playwright with an extensive background in theatre, dramatic literature, performance theory and creative arts practice. She researches in the interdisciplinary humanities fields of emotions, body theory and gender identity. Professor Tait has authored 4 scholarly books, and edited and co-edited 3 further books, with 60 other publications including articles in Theatre Journal, Modern Drama and Performance Research. She is sole writer of 5 produced plays, co-writer of 2, and writer for 3 contemporary performances.  Professor Tait came to LTU in 1996 and was awarded a personal chair 2004. She was elected to the Executive Board of Performance Studies International 2005-2009, and her visiting professorships include NYU Performance Studies in 2000 and the University of Helsinki in 2010. She regularly receives international invitations to present on circus body phenomenology.

Research interests

Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

- Animal performance and animal studies

- Australian theatre and gender identity

- Body based performance

- Chekhov’s drama and realistic acting theory

- Performing emotions and their social meanings

Teaching units

  • DRA2MO - Modern Drama and Acting Identity Core.
  • DRA2/3WIP - Writing, The Internet and Performance.
  • DRA2/3TAT - Theatre and Theory.
  • DRA1TKP - Theatre Knowledge and Practices.
  • DRA1PBP - Process Based Performance.

Recent publications

  • Circus Bodies: Cultural Identity in Aerial Performance. London Routledge, 2005. p.182. Endorsed by Professor Jill Dolan.
  • Performing Emotions: Gender, Bodies, Spaces, in Chekhov’s Drama and Stanislavski’s Theatre.  Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002. p. 195.
  • (ed), Body Show/s: Australian Viewings of Live Performances. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. p.  248.
  • Tait, P. & Schafer, E. (eds), Australian Women's Drama: Texts and Feminisms. Sydney: Currency Press, 1997. p. 286. Republished 2000.
  • Converging Realities: Feminism in Australian Theatre.  Sydney: Currency Press, 1994. p. 189.

Recently Produced Plays

  • Mesmerized, co-authored with Matra Robertson. Translated into Portuguese with title Portrait of Augustine, Production with Brazilian Arts Funding April-May 2010. Shortlisted (13 of 1200) Playwriting Competition.
  • Eleanor and Mary Alice. Play-reading of half the play at Searchlight Festival, 45 Downstairs, 7 February 2009, S_old. Play-reading, Auspicious Arts Incubator, 15 November 2009, Melbourne.
  • Deception River. Produced by the Manawatu International 2008 One Act Playwriting Competition, New Zealand, October 2008.
  • Tait, P & Robertson, M. Breath by Breath 2003 - La Mama Theatre, Melbourne, Green Room Award Nomination. In Profiling 25 New Scripts from The Australian Script Centre (Hobart 2004).

Book chapters since 2004

  • “Female Pleasure and Muscular Arms in Touring Trapeze Acts.” In Victorian Traffic, edited by Sue Thomas, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008: 178-189. (e-book access through Mylibrary.)
  • “Circus Performer as Action Hero: Codona and Leitzel.” In Circus Culture: Papers from the Circus and Circus Culture Area of the Popular Culture Association, edited by Robert Sugarman, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007 pp. 37-45.
  • “A View from Australia.” Women Writing Plays: Three Decades of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, edited by Alexis Greene, University of Texas Press, 2006. pp. 203-8.
  • “Performing Shamelessness: Leigh Bowery, Copi, and Queer Body Physicality.”  Sydney: UNE Centre for Australian Studies, 2006. pp. 208-221.
  • “Viewing Deadly Targets for Feminine Identity: Alar, the Human Arrow.” Visual Delights Two, edited by Vanessa Toulman and Simon Popple, Eastleigh UK: John Libbey Publishing, 2005. pp. 123-134.

Peer-reviewed Articles since 2004

  • Tait, P and Farrell, R “Protest and Circus Geographies: Exotic Animals with Edgley’s in Australia.” The Journal of Australian Studies, Vol. 34. No. 2. June 2010: 225-239.
  • “Human Rights, Humanness and Animalness in Antigone.” Australasian Drama Studies, 56 (April 2010): 71-83.
  • “Trained Performances of Love and Cruelty Between Species.” Performance Research, Volume 14, No. 2 (June 2009): 67-73.
  • “Controversy about a Human–Animal big cat stunt in Fillis’ Circus.” Early Popular Visual Culture, Volume 7 No. 2 (2009): 199-211.
  • “Flying and Smoking: Sensory Bodies, Identity and Circus Cigarette Advertisements.” Popular Culture Review, Volume 19 (2) (Summer) 2008: 5-21.
  • “Bodies Perform Inner Emotions: Stanislavski’s Legacy.” Australasian Drama Studies, Vol. 53 2008: 84-102.
  • “Circus Bodies Defy the Risk of Falling”, Virtual Symposia, Circus and Society, Canada: Open Semiotics Resource Centre, 2007.
  • “Body Arts: Circus at the Games.” Report, New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. XIII. Part 1. February 2007: 81-85 and cover photo.
  • “Greer, Bad Language and Performative Emotions in Protests”, 'Parading Ourselves' Journal of Australian Studies, Vol. 89 edited by Maryrose Casey, Martin Crotty & Delyse Ryan Vol. 89 December 2006: 67-76.
  • “Embodying Love: Mother Meets Daughter in Theatre for Cultural Exchange.” Australasian Drama Studies, “Theatre, Emotion, and Interculturism” edited by Peta Tait and Jung-Soon Shim (invited editors), No. 49, October 2006: 32-39. This work is supported by the Korea Research Foundation Grant ((KRF 2003-042-G00016).
  • “Re/membering Muscular Circus Bodies: Triple Somersaults, the Flying Jordans and Clarke Brothers.” Nineteenth Century Theatre & Film, Vol 33, No. 1. Summer 2006: 26-38.
  • “Body Memory in Muscular Action on Trapeze.” Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture, Volume 2 (2) September 2005.
  • Report: “The Politics of Compassion in Theatre and the Economics of Emotions.” Performance Paradigm 1 March 2005, ISSN 18325580.
  • “Circus Oz Larrikinism, Good Gender Sport?” Contemporary Theatre Review, Vol 14 (No. 3. August 2004): 77-85.

Research projects

  • Academic Research: “Animals in Performance”  
  • Academic Research: “Circus Oz, Circus Performances and Geographies.” 
  • Academic Research: “Edgley Visual Resources” for ARC LIEF “AusStage Phase 4: Gateway to Australian live Performance.  
  • Current creative writing projects: S_old Hope Pass, Jade Creek, Short-listed for Playmarket’s 2009 New New Zealand Play Award Kangaroo on Par (short performance)