Benjamin Jonathan Macpherson Portrait

Dr Ben Macpherson

Reader in Vocal Theatres

Ben.MacPherson@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

View my research outputs

Biography

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art, Design and Performance at Portsmouth, having previously worked at the University of Winchester, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and various further education colleges in the UK. Since 2014, I have led the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course, and since 2020 have been academic link tutor for Portsmouth's collaborative partnership with Laine Theatre Arts. Between 2017 - 2019 I was interim Section Lead for the Performance department, leading the team through a major curriculum framework review.

As a scholar, my research interests span the intersection of interdisciplinary voice studies and musical theatre scholarship, with a particular interest in the vocal aesthetics of musical theatre, cultural identity in the British musical, alternative music(al) and vocal theatre practices (composed theatre, extended voice, actor-musicianship), and new methods for exploring musical theatre dramaturgy. In partnership with the National Science and Media Museum, I am Principal Investigator for the AHRC-funded 'Original Cast Recordings' Research Network, exploring musical theatre on record as sonic heritage, and recipient of a 2022 British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to explore musical theate recordings 1900 - 1940.

I am founding co-convenor of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies (with Konstantinos Thomaidis), and founding co-editor of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies (Intellect, since 2015) and the Routledge Voice Studies book series, which began with the edited collection Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience (with Konstantinos Thomaidis, 2015). Since 2013 I have also been part of the steering group for the British Musical Theatre Research Institute. As a result of my association with this group, my first monograph - Cultural Identity in British Musical Theatre, 1890-1939: Knowing One's Place (Palgrave) - was published in 2018. My second book, Singing Utopia: Voice in Musical Theatre, is currently in preparation for Oxford University Press.

As a composer/lyricist, my interest resides in music theatre that challenges or explores different narrative or dramaturgical forms. In 2020, with colleagues Erika Hughes and Alison Habens, I was awarded funding from the 'Being Human Festival' to create a new site-specific musical audio-walk telling the story of Virginia Dare - the first child born in America, whose family sailed to the 'new world' from Portsmouth in 1587. Other projects include regular composition and performance work with the DV Mission 48 Hour Film Festival Awards, the musical Love and Kisses from Omaha (2016, Minghella Studio New Theatre Royal; Music and Lyrics); Fools and Idols (under the title All That's Left, commissioned by the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, 2014); original compositions for Wet Picnic Theatre Company’s installation Depth Charge (Portsmouth, 2012); and a flash-mob at St. Pancras Station (London, 2011).

Research interests

  • Interdisciplinary approach to voice in performance (including listening, sound and silence)
  • Musical theatre vocality
  • British musical theatre, 1900 - Present
  • Musical theatre on record 1900 - Present
  • Embodiment, cognition and somatic theory
  • Site-specific theatre practices
  • Visual and schematic approaches to analysing theatre performance

Teaching responsabilities

Level 4:

  • Voice and the Actor
  • Devised Project
  • Making Theatre

Level 5:

  • Musical Theatre Laboratory
  • A Voice and So Much More (Optional module)

Level 6 (inclusive of year tutor responsibility):

  • Alternative Theatres
  • Major Academic Project
  • Musical Theatre: Special Topic

Level 7:

  • Supervisor for Masters by Research projects (various)