Hi, I’m Phil Cleaves, a researcher, dramaturg, education consultant, and teacher educator.

I taught Drama and Theatre for ten years before launching essentialdrama.com. Since then, I completed my doctoral thesis at the University of Surrey in 2024. It proposes a new way of doing a Theatre A level in England without a written exam.

You can download a 3-page summary or check out the full version with my imagined subject content and specification in the appendix: Empowering the student as theatre maker: A new rich-knowledge Theatre A level.

Do get in touch if you have any questions or project ideas – philcleaves@essentialdrama.com


I have conducted and transcribed more than 20 interviews with leading theatre academics and theatre professionals.

Education Packs and Resources

I collaborated with Nadine Holdsworth to create a free, fully illustrated Joan Littlewood education pack.

I was a consultant on the excellent Performing International Plays project, an open-access resource that includes videos and education packs for plays from six continents and in fifteen languages.

Promoting Drama and Theatre

I designed promotional posters with data to show how many students at top universities have an A level in Drama and Theatre.

When I first started sharing these interviews, Dan Rebellato reached out and kindly wrote an introductory essay that captures the spirit of the project: ‘A Little Revolution.’

Created by

Phil Cleaves