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Biography

Peter is a writer with extensive experience as a teacher, researcher, author and playwright. He has received successful credits on the London Fringe (Jermyn Street and Baron’s Court) and also at theatre festivals in Como and Milan.

His play Married Blitz won Best Play at the Volgograd International Theatre Festival in Russia. He’s had many books and articles published on modern theatre and playwrights. His book At the Sharp End (Methuen, 2008) was nominated for The Theatre Book Prize and the Writers' Guild Book Award. 

His play Gifted was a runner-up in the 2008 Royal Exchange/Bruntwood Playwriting Competition. It had a very successful three-week run at The White Bear Kennington (directed by Chris Loveless), where it secured impressive notices, including a 4* review (‘a tale of madness masquerading as sanity, couched in language as brutal as it is beautiful...hauntingly lyrical" (Leon Conrad, Remote Goat).

His latest publication is Visions from the Tower of Song. Spirituality and Desire in Leonard Cohen’s Songs and Poems, which was launched on 2 March 2017. 

Areas of expertise

  • Modern British Drama with a particular expertise in post-1945 British Playwrights
  • Political Theatre - especially the plays of Edward Bond

Publications

Monographs

  • Visions from The Tower of Song. Spirituality and Desire in Leonard Cohen’s Songs and Poems. ​(Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017)
  • Edward Bond: a critical study (Commissioned by Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, publication date 2012/3). This study represents the first major monograph of Edward Bond in twenty years. Whilst evaluating the fifty year arc of Bond’s writing career (1962-2012) it will focus upon an in-depth discussion and examination of the post-1995 ‘Late Plays’. These plays have not previously received scholarly attention or discussion.
  • At the Sharp End – uncovering the work of five leading dramatists. Published by Methuen (A&C Black), 2008. ISBN 978-0-7136-8507-7. Nominated for the Theatre Book Prize 2008 and the Writers Guild of Great Britain Book Award 2008.
  • Theatres of Conscience – touring British community theatre 1939-53. Published by Routledge Harwood, 2002. ISBN 0415 27028 6 (Reviewed by Clive Barker in ‘New Theatre Quarterly’, February 2004:‘Billingham scores heavily in locating the work of Theatres of Conscience in two contexts. The first is in pointing to the historical survival embodied in the companies… the second (where) Billingham is scrupulously concerned to set the existence of the companies within the theatrical and social history of their time… This looks forward to the development of community and political theatres…incorporating a wide range of political views from anarchist and Marxist through to liberal religious theology ...There is much here to redress the views that prior to ‘Look Back in Anger’ there existed a theatrical desert’.)
  • Sensing the City through Television Published by Intellect Books (Bristol), 2000. ISBN 1-84150 842 X
    Peer Reviewed by Professor David Gauntlett:
    ‘This excellent book relates particular TV series to social and cultural notions of the city. It’s a book of studies of TV ‘texts’ – a very good one. Usually I am dubious about the value of subjective analyses of a text by an isolated ‘expert’ but this is about as good as it gets and is helped considerably by interviews with the programme makers themselves...The lengthy discussion is perceptive and thoughtful ...Overall it’s a very good book for people interested in representations of city and urban life in TV drama – but, more than that, it’s one of the best ‘television studies’ books of recent years.
    In 2005 Shanghai People’s Press negotiated to translate this book into Chinese and publish it in China.
  • ‘Into My Arms: Spirituality, Desire and Transcendence in the songs of Nick Cave’ A 5000 word chapter selected for the forthcoming The Art of Nick Cave, be edited by Dr John Baker, University of Westminster, At Press. Intellect, November 2012.
  • Broken Chairs and Prams on paths: Towards a new poetics of political theatre in the plays of Edward Bond, a 5,000 word chapter selected for Crossing Boundaries in Contemporary British Theatre, edited by Dr Vicki Angeliki, University of Birmingham. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012/3.

Articles, Essays and Chapters (2006 – 2012)

  • Shelagh Stephenson: A 6,500 word chapter commissioned as part of ‘The Methuen Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights’. Edited by Middeke, Schnirer and Sierz (Publisher: Methuen, July 2011) ISBN: 978-1-4081-2278-5
  • ‘The bombing continues. The gunfire continues. The End.’ Themes of American Military-Cultural Globalization in David Greig’s The American Pilot. A 6,000 word chapter in ‘Cosmotopia: Transnational Identities in David Greig’s Theatre’. Edited by Muller and Wallace. (Publisher: Litteraria Pragensia Books, Czech Republic, September 2010) ISBN: 9-788703 083557
  • 'Rosalinds, Violas and other Fond Friendships: The Osiris Players’. A 5000 word chapter for the edited collection of conference papers from the 2009 Ottawa University conference: ‘Shakespeare and War in a Global Perspective’. Edited by Magaryk and Hughes. At Press (Publisher University of Toronto Press, 2012)

Articles, Essays and Chapters (2006 - 2012)

  • ‘The Angel within Us’ – themes of sexuality and transcendence in Blackeyes and The Singing Detective by Dennis Potter’. Published in Volume 5 of ‘Occasional Papers in the Arts and Education, National Arts Education Archive, (1996). Edited by Dr Peter Billingham and Dr Steven Kean.
  • ‘Richard Ward and the ‘Theatre of Persons’: Theatre for the People? Published in ‘Popular Theatres’, the edited papers of the Liverpool John Moores University Conference on ‘Popular Theatre’. Published by LJMU Press, 1996.
  • ‘Empathy as Objective: Stanislavskian methodology and Chekhov’s The Seagull’. Published in the edited collection of papers from the international Chekhov conference, organised jointly by the Theatre Academy, St Petersburg and the International Federation for Theatre Research. (1996)
  • Two biographical critical essays (5/6000 words each) on Tony Marchant and Shirley Gee for ‘British and Irish Dramatists since World War II’ Published in Volume I of this series for Bruccoli, Clark and Layman (USA), 2000. Series Editor: Professor John Bull. ISBN 0 7876 4662 8.
  • (Volume II, 2005) Essays on Edward Bond (15,000 words) and Tom Kempinski (6,000 words) (Published April 2005)
  • ‘Signs of the City: the motif of the Redemptive Journey in Tony Marchant’s Holding On (BBC2)’. Selected for the edited collection of papers from the ‘On the Boundary’ Television Drama conference, University of Reading. Published as British Television Drama (Palgrave, 2000.) ISBN (0333774957)
  • ‘Can Kinky Sex be Politically Correct? – geo-ideological inscriptions of Gay and Queer sexualities in Queer as Folk.’ Popular Television Drama. Editors Simon Bignell and Jonathan Lacey. (Manchester University Press, 2005) ISBN: 0-7190-6933-5.

Edited Collections

  • Spirituality and Desire in Leonard Cohen’s Songs and Poems. Visions from the Tower of Song, edited. Published by Campbridge Scholars Publishing, 2017. ISBN: 1 4438 1686 8.
  • The Adelphi Players – The Theatre of Persons, by Cecil Davies, edited and with an introduction by Peter Billingham. Published by Routledge Harwood, 2002. ISBN 0 415 27026 X.
  • Radical Initiatives in Interventionist and Community Drama, edited by Peter Billingham. Published by Intellect (Bristol) April, 2005. ISBN 1-84150-068-2

Conference Papers

  • 1994 – ‘Richard Ward and the ‘Theatre of Persons’ – towards a Popular Theatre? ‘Popular Theatres’ conference, Liverpool John Moore’s University.
  • 1995 – (Poster presentation) ‘The Jester’ - John Crockett’s ‘Compass Players’ and seminal experiments in Theatre in Education, ‘Researching Drama and Theatre in Education’, University of Exeter.
  • 1996 – ‘Empathy as Objective’ – a critique of Stanislavskian methodology in relation to Chekhov’s The Seagull.’ IFTR in conjunction with the Theatre Academy, St Petersburg, Russia.
  • 1998 – ‘Signs of the City – the motif of the ‘Redemptive Journey’ in Tony Marchant’s Holding On. ‘On the Boundaries’- Modern British Television Drama conference, University of Reading.
  • 1999 – ‘Dreaming of Elvis’ – post-romantic, post-modern spirituality in the work of Forced Entertainment Theatre Cooperative. ‘Here Be Dragons’ Performing Arts conference. University of Aberystwyth in conjunction with the Centre for Performance Research.
  • 2000 – ‘Policing the Imagination’ – ideological strategies of law and order in Tony Garnett’s The Cops. ‘Politics, Performance and Community’ conference, University of Wolverhampton.
  • 2001 – ‘Can Kinky Sex be Politically Correct?’ – strategies of sexual politics in Queer as Folk’. The ‘Othering England’ conference, University College of the Chilterns, High Wycombe.
  • 2003 – ‘Krapp’s Last Tape – remembering the lines but losing the plot?’ – a radical workshop performance on themes of memory and identity in the plays of Samuel Beckett’. International Beckett Conference, University of Leeds.
  • 2003 – ‘Resisting an Unholy Trinity’ – Richard Ward and the production of Shakespeare 1941-45. ‘Shakespeare and European Politics’ international conference, University of Utrecht.
  • April 2004 – ‘Wearing Dead Men’s Clothes’ – Edward Bond’s ontological alternative theatre to the haberdashery of the soul. ‘Political Futures – Alternative Theatres’, an international conference at the University of Reading.
  • June 2005 – ‘California Dreaming’ – Armistead Maupin’s liberal/gay inscription of San Francisco in Tales of the City (Channel 4). ‘Visualising the City’, University of Manchester. ‘Visualizing the City’ conference.
  • May 2006 – Invited keynote speaker at an international conference on Television and European Cultural Identity, organised by the Czech Ministry of Culture, Trabon, and the Czech Republic.
  • March 2007 – Presented paper on themes of USA military and economic imperialism in David Greig’s play The American Pilot at the ‘Globalisation and Writing’ conference, Bath Spa University.
  • June 2007 – ‘Revolutionizing Tragedy: Edward Bond’s Lear’ The ‘1970’s’ Conference (AHRC funded), University of Portsmouth.
  • September 2008 – ‘Bingo! The Game’s Up! – deconstructing Shakespeare as a cultural icon in Edward Bond’s play Bingo. Cultural Renditions of Shakespeare conference, University of Ningbo, China.
  • May 2009 – ‘Marooned – A message in a bottle’ – reflections upon a collaborative performance project focused upon Verbatim Theatre. The ‘Acting the Real’conference, University of Reading.
  • September 2009. ‘Rosalinds, Violas and other Fond Friendships’: The production of Shakespeare by the all-female touring theatre company, The Osiris Players 1939-45. The ‘Shakespeare and War in a Global conference at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
  • November 2009: Keynote Speaker at the CINECOSA symposium on Transatlantic Funding of European Television. University of Nanterre, Paris.
  • October 2010: ‘Inside Out: Issues of racism and domestic abuse in Tanika Gupta’s play Inside Out (2002) at the Contemporary British Theatre symposium at Birmingham City University.
  • September 2011: ‘The Century Theatre: a unique touring theatre; Presented at the AHRC funded conference ‘Regional British Theatre in the post-war period’ at the University of Reading.
  • November 2012 – Keynote Speaker at a international conference:‘Bond@50’at the University of Warwick
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