Dr Mary Mazzilli

Senior Lecturer
Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)
Dr Mary Mazzilli
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873152

  • Location

    5NW.4.4C, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Tuesday 14-15



Before joining the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at Essex in 2016, Mary was a Lecturer in Theatre Theory and Contemporary Practice at Goldsmiths in the Theatre and Performance Department (2015-2016). In 2012-2014, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Nanyang Technological University - Singapore in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. For several years, she has been a Research Associate at Soas, University of London where she lectured in Chinese Theatre and Cinema. In addition to theatre, she has a strong expertise in Literature (World, Comparative Literature and Womens writing): she taught Womens Writing and Gender at Goldsmiths, University of London in the department of English and Comparative Literature. Her monograph Gao Xingjians Post-Exile Plays: Transnationalism and Postdramatic Theatre is published with Bloomsbury Methuen Drama and has attracted good reviews. She has co-edited and contributed to Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Embodiment, Corporeality, Desire and the Ethics of Failure (Bridge21, 2015). She holds a PhD from Soas, University of London, for her thesis titled Gao Xingjian vs Martin Crimp in between Modernism and Postmodernism, and a MSc in Chinese Modern Literature from University of Edinburgh. As a playwright, her plays have been widely staged in both UK (Southwark Playhouse, Old Red Lion etc.) and China. Her play 'Priority Seating' ( a play about contemporary migration in UK) which had a staged reading at the Mercury Theatre in 2017 was funded by Arts Council England and Impact Acceleration Account University of Essex. As a dramaturge, assistant-director and producer, she is the founder and Creative Director of Lumenis Theatre Company, which was awarded in 2011 the Arts Council England Grant for the Arts for the production of Roy Williams 'There is only one Wayne Lee and her play Magical Chairs'. She writes and has published poetry and her first novel (co-written with Addolorata Cagnazzo), Riflessioni di un viaggio was published in Italian, in 2007. Mary is also a theatre and book critic: she has contributed to Times Literary Supplement, Art Desk and Theatre Voice and regularly writes for British Theatre Guide and The Conversation. She would particularly welcome PhD applications in the following areas: World Theatre and Literature ( in particular but not limited to Chinese and East-Asian literature and theatre) ; Comparative Drama and Literature; Playwriting and PaR projects with a focus on intercultural and global performance practices; Post-war British theatre and drama; the Absurd; Multiculturalism and BAME theatre; Postdramatic Theatre; Modernism/Postmodernism; Women's writing; Transnational Chinese Cinema; and Gender.


  • BA Hons. In English Literature and Chinese (University of Westminster)

  • Msc in Chinese Modern Literature (University of Edinburgh)

  • PhD in Chinese and Theatre ( SOAS, University of London)


University of Essex

  • MA Director, University of Essex (1/1/2019 - 10/2/2020)

  • Co-director Centre of Theatre Research, University of Essex, University of Essex (1/9/2019 - present)

  • Director of Impact, University of Essex, University of Essex (1/9/2019 - present)

Other academic

  • Acting Deputy Dean Postgraduate Research Training, University of Essex (1/7/2022 - 1/2/2023)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Chinese and East-Asian Theatre

Open to supervise

World and Global Theatres and Literatures

Open to supervise

Postdramatic Theatres; Modernism/Postmodernism in drama and literature

Open to supervise

Post-war British theatre and theatres in Europe

Open to supervise

Contemporary Theatre Practices (directing and producing)

Open to supervise

Dramaturgy and Playwriting (PaR and Creative practices)

Open to supervise

Comparative Drama and Literature

Open to supervise

Gender Studies and Women's writing

Open to supervise

Current research

Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu

Digital and Intermedial Theatre In Asia

Embodiment and Performance

Transnationalism and Theatre

Adaptation and translation: dramaturgy of exile

Migration, playwriting and verbatim theatre

Priority Seating, new play staged at Mercury Theatre in November 2017 funded by IIA Acceleration account and Arts Council England. This is an on-going research and writing project exploring interaction between migration communities in UK.

Conferences and presentations

Chair of Book launch

Invited presentation, Thinking Home edited volume Book Launch, Lakeside theatre, Colchester, United Kingdom, 12/3/2019

Chair of a panel

Invited presentation, Ariadne, the University of Essex and the Mercury Theatre supported by the AHRC present International Festival of Women Making Theatre to Inspire Change, Colchester, United Kingdom, 24/6/2017

Chair of Panel

Invited presentation, TAMBURLAINE, Yellow Earth, Colchester, United Kingdom, 19/4/2017

Chair of Exploring Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu through Yue Opera at China Exchange, London (July 2016)

London, United Kingdom, 2016

London Bookfair event organised by British CouncilOn the Shoulders of Giants: Cervantes, Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu (April 2016)

London, United Kingdom, 2016

'Transnational Chinese Stardom: Desiring the Bodies of Ruan Lingyu and Linda Lin Dai' at King's College (14 February 2016)

London, United Kingdom, 2016

Is Gao Xingjian a feminist or a misogynist writer? at Chinese Studies Centre, University of Sydney (18 November 2013)

Sydney, Australia, 2013

Global Liminal and Meta-urban Spaces in Asian Cities: Transcultural Performative Experiences of Architectural and Urban Spaces through the Analysis of Guerrilla Performances and Digital Literature from Shenzhenat International Institute for Area Studies (IIAS) at Leiden University (24 September 2013)

Leiden, Netherlands, 2013

Chinese female stars on screen and the history of Sinophone cinema: an exploration of transnational embodiment and desire. At EAI- East-Asian Institute at National University of Singapore (NUS) (31 May 2013).

Singapore, Singapore, 2013

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Introduction to European Literature (LT171)

  • Law and Literature (LT394)

  • Crossing the Boundaries: Literature and Translation in a Global Context (LT962)

  • Introduction to Theatre Studies (TH141)

  • Theatre and Performance Makers (TH241)

  • Independent Practical Theatre Project (TH831)

  • Origins and Transformations in Literature and Drama (LT111)

Previous supervision

Rachael Leanne Welham
Rachael Leanne Welham
Thesis title: What Happens Now? An Exploration of Isolation and Loss in Theatre During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Degree subject: Theatre Studies
Degree type: Master of Arts (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 6/3/2023
Judith Ann Johnson
Judith Ann Johnson
Thesis title: Hand-In-Hand? A Playwright's Journey Into Learning-Disability Theatre
Degree subject: Theatre Studies (Playwriting)
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 15/6/2020
Fabiana Sforza
Fabiana Sforza
Thesis title: '10:31, Mcr: a Practice-As-Research Project That Investigates Ethical Dramaturgical Approaches to Politically Sensitive Theatre-Making with and for Young People.'
Degree subject: Theatre Studies
Degree type: Master of Arts (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 17/6/2019


Journal articles (3)

Mazzilli, M., (2019). Intercultural and cross-cultural encounters during the quatercentenary of Tang Xianzu and Shakespeare. Asian Theatre Journal. 36 (2), 281-301


Mazzilli, M., (2015). Gender in Gao Xingjian's Between Life and Death: The Notion of Originary Self and the Use of Tripartition. Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. 9 (3), 369-394

Books (2)

Mazzilli, M., Bergen-Aurand, B. and Wai-Siam, H., (2015). Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Embodiment, Corporeality, Desire and the ethics of failure. Bridge21 Publications. 978-1626430105

Mazzilli, M., (2015). Gao Xingjian's Post-Exile Plays: Transnationalism and Postdramatic Theatre. Methuen Drama. 9781472591609

Book chapters (5)

Mazzilli, M., (2023). Chapter thirty-two: Exophony, translation, and transnationalism in Gao Xingjian's French/Chinese plays, Mary Mazzilli. In: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Modern Chinese Literature in Translation. Editors: Bruno, C., Klein, L. and Song, C., . Bloomsbury. 409- 422. 1350215309. 9781350215306

Mazzilli, M., (2022). Transnational Neighbourhood and Theatrical Practices- The Concept of Home, Negotiating Strangeness and Familiarity, and the Experience of Migrant Communities in North Essex. In: Exploring the Transnational Neighbourhood Perspectives on Community-Building, Identity and Belonging. Editors: Ehrig, S., Jung, B. and Shaffer, G., . Leuven University Press. 292- 315. 9462703485. 9789462703483

Mazzilli, M., (2021). Race, Occidentalism/Orientalism and Sino-centrism in Contemporary Chinese Theatre. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Theatre and Race. Editors: Morosetti, T. and Okagbue, O., . Springer Nature. 465- 486. 9783030439576

Mazzilli, M., (2018). Gao Xingjian’s Search for a Scenic Dramaturgy and Cinematic Language in Song of the Night. In: Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics. Editors: Lee, M. and Liu, J., . Cambria Sinophone World. 115- 130. 1604979461. 9781604979466

Mazzilli, M., (2015). Desiring the Bodies of Ruan Lingyu and Linda Lin Dai. In: Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Embodiment, Corporeality, Desire and the ethics of failure. Editors: Mazzilli, M., Bergen-Aurand, B. and Wai-Siam, H., . Bridge21 Publications. 978-1626430105

Media (2)

Mazzilli, M., Rondin[a]e. Video

Mazzilli, M., Bright Azzurro Sea a short film/digital play premiered at the Mercury Online Festival August 2020. Video

Other (3)

Mazzilli, M., Priority Seating

Mazzilli, M., (2023).The world will change quicker and quicker so keep awake

Mazzilli, M. and Mazzilli, M., (2023).Lightstreams

Grants and funding


Building Research Community for Operationalising Intersectionality to reduce health disparities in mental health

Arts and Humanities Research Council

ECC Women's Safety Evaluation: Restorative Practice Applied Theatre project

Essex County Council


First generation migrants as freelance creative workers: creating a transnational local network, and improving the social and economic situation of creative labour in the South-East

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)


The human side of migration: unheard stories from migrant communities in Colchester

University of Essex

+44 (0) 1206 873152


5NW.4.4C, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Tuesday 14-15

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