Declan studied for his PhD in the University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies (CECS) supervised by Dr Catriona Kennedy. His thesis “Theatre and Associational Life in Northern England, ca. 1760 to 1815” examined aspects of Northern Enlightenment related to performance.
We know relatively little about the place of theatre in eighteenth-century cultural, political, and intellectual life. Declan’s research addresses this historiographical gap, proposing that theatre played a more significant role than has been previously recognized. His local archive research provides examples of provincial actors stepping in to fill gaps in civil society, such that contrary to a common misconception of vagrancy, actors enabled the foundation of schools, dispensaries, libraries and large scale infrastructure which significantly improved regional development in the period.
Declan brings his previous professional experience to this research and has been commissioned to make films for the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, North Yorkshire, the oldest working playhouse in its original form in Britain, as well as the Universities of York, Newcastle and Northumbria in the UK, Cornell in the USA and AIT in Thailand.
Declan is currently working on a book “The Eloquent Player: Performance, Rhetoric and Northern Enlightenment.”