Associate Professor Stephen Carleton

Associate Professor

School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 334 68739


Stephen is a Brisbane-based playwright and academic. His plays have been produced across Australia and won awards including the Griffin Theatre Award (2015) for The Turquoise Elephant, the Matilda Award for Best New Australian Play (2017) for Bastard Territory, and the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award (2005) and New Dramatists’ Award (2006) for Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset. Those plays and others including musical Joh for PM (2017, with Paul Hodge), and The Narcissist (2007), have been shortlisted for a range of awards including the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award, the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, Queensland Literary Awards (Drama), and two AWGIEs.

His main areas of theatre research at present are in the intersections between Gothic drama and Eco-criticism, where he has written the first of a propsed trilogy of 'cli fi' plays. He has published on the Australian Gothic, and extended this area of interest into Ireland, the UK, the USA, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. He has a background in Postcolonial drama, Australian Drama (from c19th melodramas to c21st playwriting), Spatial Inquiry (focussing on the Australian North), and Cultural Geography. He is also co-creator of the Cultural Atlas of Australia with his colleagues Ass. Prof. Jane Stadler and Dr Peta Mitchell.

Research Interests

  • Gothic drama and Eco-Criticism
    Specialised focus on 'cli fi' and the grotesque in relation to catastrophic climate change and its denial
  • Gothic drama and the postcolonial
    Specialised focuses on Australian and Irish plays, but extending into the US, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand.
  • Spatial Inquiry and Cultural Geography
    Specialised focus on the Australian North, and mythic Australian spaces
  • Australian Drama
    From c19th melodrama to c21st Australian playwriting

Research Impacts

Stephen Carleton is a leading Australian playwright, being one of only a small handful to have won both national awards for new Australian playwriting, the Griffin Award, and the Patrick White Playwrights' Award. His plays have generated more than $2m in box office earnings, and played before audiences around the country. He received a 2010 ARC Discovery Grant with colleagues Jane Stadler and Peta Mitchell to undertake research towards producing a Cultural Atlas of Australia which mediates spaces in theatre , film and literature. It is an interdisciplinary research project that investigates the cultural and historical significance of location and landscape in Australian cinema, plays and novels.

Stephen's recent playwriting practice has moved into speculative fiction and 'cli fi' drama incorporating elements of the gothic, the grotesque and eco-criticism to examine catastrophic climate change and denialism. He has also conducted research into contemporary Gothic drama around the world. An Early Career Resarch Grant allowed him to conduct study into the Irish Gothic. His PhD thesis, entitled "Imagining and Performing an Australian Deep North", employed Spatial Inquiry and strands of contemporary cultural studies and theatre theory to explore the ways in which the Australian North has been constructed in theatre history from 1900 to the present day. Recent theatre productions include: The Turquoise Elephant in Sydney and Darwin (2016 and 2018), musical Joh for PM with Paul Hodge in Brisbane (2017), and Bastard Territory in Brisbane (2016), Darwin and Cairns (2014). His seminal work, Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset, sits on the senior drama Australian Gothic curriculum in Queensland.


  • Master Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • BA (Hons) Humanities - English/Drama, La Trobe University


  • Trenscényi, Katalin, Cochrane, Bernadette, Carleton, Stephen and Kelly, Kathryn (2019) New dramaturgy: a roundtable. Brisbane, Australia, University of Queensland.

  • Cochrane, Bernadette, Trenscényi, Katalin, Campbell, Alyson, Carleton, Stephen, Dorney, Marcel and Kelly, Kathryn (2019) New Dramaturgies. Brisbane, Australia, University of Queensland.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2018) The Turquoise Elephant. Darwin, Northern Territory, Browns Mart Theatre and Knock-em-Down Theatre.

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Book Chapter

  • Fotheringham, Richard and Carleton, Stephen (2013). "White Australia" in 1909: the background to the play and the two surviving scripts. In Richard Fotheringham (Ed.), White Australia or, the empty North (pp. 6-16) Brisbane, Australia: Playlab Press.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2013). Foreword. In Men Without Wives by Henrietta Drake-Brockman (pp. 5-8) Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Playlab Press.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2013). Foreword. In Bag O' Marbles by Kathryn Ash (pp. 5-7) Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Playlab Press.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2013). Foreword. In The Drovers by Louis Esson (pp. 5-7) Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Playlab Press.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2013). Rethinking regional theatre. In Richard Fotheringham and James Smith (Ed.), Catching Australian theatre in the 2000s (pp. 151-170) Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi.

  • Carleton, Stephen (2011). The gatecrasher. In I Will Kiss You in Four Places (pp. 11-32) Brisbane, QLD, Australia: Playlab Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision