Ben Fletcher-Watson

Name: Ben Fletcher-Watsonbfw-pic

Research Areas: Relaxed Performance and Digital Technology

Department: Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities


Twitter: @bfletcherwatson




Ben Fletcher-Watson is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. He trained in dramaturgy and directing at Emory University, and holds a PhD in drama from the University of St Andrews. Prior to his PhD, Ben worked in the cultural sector in England and Scotland for ten years as a theatre director, venue manager and fundraiser. He serves on the Executive of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) and is an ASSITEJ Next Generation Artist.


Research Interests

  • Theatre, dance, music and performance for very young audiences (from birth to five years old), examining the impact of developmental psychology, educational theory and contemporary performance practices on artistic production and dramaturgy.
  • Accessible and inclusive performance, especially relaxed performances for spectators with autism, dementia or learning disabilities.
  • Digital culture, including mobile and wearable technologies in theatre for young audiences, live broadcasts of theatre and visual art, and digital literacy across the lifespan.


Musical Interests

  • Music for foetuses, newborns, babies and toddlers.
  • Opera for very young audiences (birth to five years old).
  • Music in mobile apps for children.



Fletcher-Watson, B. (2016). “Live-streaming to your living room: towards a new model of social inclusion and relaxed performance”, Coup de Théâtre (30)1, (in press).

Drury, R. & Fletcher-Watson, B. (2016). “The baby audience: the impact and implications of child development research on performing arts practice for the very young”, Journal of Early Childhood Research, 14(1), 1-13.

Fletcher-Watson, B. (2015). “Relaxed performance: audiences with autism in mainstream theatre”. Scottish Journal of Performance, 2(2), 61-89.

Fletcher-Watson, B. (2015). “Seen and not heard: participation as tyranny in Theatre for Early Years”. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20(1), 24-38.

Fletcher-Watson, B., Fletcher-Watson, S., McNaughton, M.J. & Birch A. (2014). “From cradle to stage: how Early Years performing arts experiences are tailored to the developmental capabilities of babies and toddlers”. Youth Theatre Journal, 28(2), 130-146.

Fletcher-Watson, B. (2014). “From stage to screen: adapting a children’s theatre production into a digital toy”. Scottish Journal of Performance, 1(2), 37-62.

Fletcher-Watson, B. (2013). “Towards a Grounded Dramaturgy: using Grounded Theory to interrogate performance practices in theatre for Early Years”. Youth Theatre Journal, 27(2), 130-138.

Fletcher-Watson, B. (2013). “Child’s play: a postdramatic theatre of paidia for the very young”. Platform, 7(2), 14-31.


Keynotes and Invited Lectures

“Equality and integrity in theatre for the very young”, WeeFestival (Toronto), May 2016.

“Testing the waters: trialling performance with invited audiences” Aprilfestival (Copenhagen), Apr 2016.

“Innovations in performance for the very young”, DOCH (Stockholm), Nov 2015.

“Adult tyranny in performing arts for children”, Keðja Encounter (Hammerfest), Nov 2015.

“Dance for the very young: new directions”, Tanz Festival für Junges Publikum (Zug), Sep 2015.

“Theatre for Early Years around the world: East meets West”, Deai-no Forum (Tokyo/Okinawa), Jul 2015.

“Great art for small people: how do we engage the youngest audience?”, ASSITEJ Forum: Nordic Dance Platform ICE HOT (Oslo), Dec 2014.

“The Baby Audience: defining the capabilities of babies and toddlers”, WeeFestival (Toronto), May 2014.

“Reducing risk in theatre for children and families”, Imaginate Festival (Edinburgh), May 2014.

“The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas: Theatre for Foetuses”, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aug 2013.

“Audiences seen and not heard: tyranny in theatre for the very young”, Into The New (Glasgow), Jan 2013.


Conference Presentations

Presentations at the Theatre and Performance Research Association in 2016 (Bristol), 2015 (Worcester), 2014 (Egham) and 2013 (London), including symposium organiser and chair in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Presentations at the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network in 2016 (Birmingham), 2014 (Warsaw) and 2013 (Hildesheim).

Presentations at the Live Theatre Broadcast Symposium (York 2015), International Research College of Theatre Arts for Children and Young People (Subotica 2014), Research in Drama Education Symposium (Hull 2013), ESRC National Summit Conference (Birmingham 2013).


Funding Awarded

2016    Postdoctoral Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

2013    Economic and Social Research Council, Industry Placement

2012 – 2015 Economic and Social Research Council, CASE Studentship

2011 – 2013 Research Scholarship, Leverhulme Trust



Introduction to Music Psychology, MMus/BMus/MEd, Guest lecturer, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Research Skills, Postgraduate, Course Tutor, University of St Andrews


Group or Event Organisation

Conference Organiser for Theatre and Performance Research Association Postgraduate Symposium 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Member of Planning Committee for Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference 2013.



Member of the Advisory Board of Autism Arts Festival, University of Kent (2016–).

Member of the Board of ASSITEJ Next Generation Network (2014–).

Postgraduate Representative of the Executive of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (2013–2016).

Chair of the Board of Plutôt La Vie, a physical theatre company based in Edinburgh (2010–).