Dr. Karen Fricker

Associate Professor
Theatre Praxis

BA (English) and MA (Dramatic Texts), Stanford University
PhD (Theatre Studies), School of Drama, Trinity College, Dublin

Office: MW 311
905 688 5550 x5780

Karen Fricker teaches courses in theatre theory, history, and criticism in the Department of Dramatic Arts. Her research interests include contemporary theatre and globalization; contemporary circus; popular performances of nation; and theatre criticism.

Her monograph Making Theatre Global: Robert Lepage’s Original Stage Productions was published in 2020 by Manchester University Press.

She is co-director, with Prof. Charles Batson (Union College, New York) of Circus and its Others, an international research project exploring difference in contemporary circus. With Hayley Malouin she edited a dedicated double issue of the peer-reviewed journal Performance Matters (4.1-2, 2018) on the theme of Circus and its Others. With Prof. Michelle MacArthur (University of Windsor) she edited Canadian Theatre Review 168, a special issue exploring theatre criticism in Canada today.

She is a theatre critic at the Toronto Star, and has reviewed and broadcast for The GuardianVarietyThe Irish TimesThe New York Times, the BBC, RTÉ, and the CBC, amongst other outlets, and is the founding editor in chief of Irish Theatre Magazine.

From 2007-2012 she was a lecturer in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London and in autumn 2012 was the Eakin Visiting Scholar at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in Montréal.

Performing the “New” Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Edited Milija Gluhovic. Houndmills: Palgrave, 2013.

“’Somewhere between science and legend’: Robert Lepage and Cirque du Soleil’s Totem.” In Cirque Global: Québec’s Expanding Circus Boundaries, eds. Charles Batson and Louis Patrick Leroux, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016.

“’It’s just not funny anymore’: Terry Wogan, Melancholy Britain, and the Eurovision Song Contest.” Performing the “New” Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Eds. Fricker and Gluhovic. Palgrave, 2013, pp. 53-76.

(With Milija Gluhovic): “Introduction: Eurovision and the ‘New’ Europe.” Performing the “New” Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Eds. Fricker and Gluhovic. Houndmills: Palgrave, 2014, pp. 1-28.

“Introduction: Circus and its Others” with Hayley Malouin. Performance Matters 4.1-2 (July 2018). Special issue on “Circus and its Others.”

“Going inside: The New-Old Practice of Embedded Criticism.” Canadian Theatre Review 168 (2016).

“The Futures of Theatre Criticism.” Canadian Theatre Review 163 (2015).

“Blogging.” Contemporary Theatre Review 25.1 (2015). Special issue on “The Politics, Processes, and Practices of Editing.”

“’The Simple Question of Ireland’: La Reine de Beauté de Leenane in Montréal.” Theatre Research in Canada/Recherches Théâtrales au Canada 35.3 (Autumn 2014)

The Nathan Cohen Award for Excellence in Critical Writing, Canadian Theatre Critics Association, 2018.
Charles Bronfman and Rita Mayo Award for Excellence in Teaching, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, McGill University, 2013.

Performance Criticism Training Program, Generator Performance, 2018. Co-developer and co-facilitator of training program for emerging critics and artists, run by the Toronto-based performing arts incubator Generator.
Young Critics Program, Youth Theatre Ireland, 2005-present. Co-facilitator of theatre criticism training program for 16-18-year-olds in Dublin, Ireland.


  • Canadian Association for Theatre Research
  • Canadian Theatre Critics Association


  • Editorial Advisory Board, Performance Matters – A Journal about the Materiality and the Consequentiality of Performance.