Ms Leah Wilkes

Job: PhD student

School/department: School of Humanities and Performing Arts

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: N/A



Personal profile

Leah is a PhD researcher (2021-2025) at De Montfort University, Leicester. Her thesis investigates feminism and the representation of women in biographical musical theatre from 2009 onwards. Her project is being funded through Midlands4Cities by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of their Doctoral Training Partnership program.
Prior to starting her PhD, Leah obtained a BA in Drama and an MA in Performance Practices at De Montfort University. During this time, Leah developed other areas of interest in topics such as narrative, memory, politics, multimedia performance, digital technologies and collaboration.

Research group affiliations

Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies

Research interests/expertise

  • Musical theatre
  • Feminist theatre
  • Biographical and autobiographical performance
  • Gender theory


  • MA Performance Practices
  • BA Drama

Conference attendance




Watershed Festival Symposium: Reimagining Music Theatre (Reimagining Representation in Music Theatre panel), Queen’s University, 27th May 2021 

Submitted paper: ‘Black Lives Matter, Disney+ and the re-contextualisation of Hamilton (2015)’  

Borderlines VIII: Rejecting, Tracing, Embracing Performance Legacies (Panel 5: Dissecting and Transforming Politicised Legacies), De Montfort University, 18th June 2021 

Submitted paper: ‘Hamilton (2015): Activism and Re-Envisaging Representation’


 Watershed Festival Symposium: Reimagining Music Theatre (Positionalities in Music Theatre panel), Queen's University, 27th May 2022

 Submitted paper: 'Feminist camp and genre boundaries: SIX (2017) and Diana (2019)’

 Midlands4Cities Research Festival (Sex, gender & sexuality panel), 13th June 2022

 Submitted paper: 'SIX (2017) and Diana (2019): ‘Herstory’ on the biographical musical theatre stage’

 Borderlines IX: Seeking Solidarity and Wonder Through Performance (Panel 2: Exploring Solidarity through Revisionist Historiography), De Montfort University, 30th June 2022

 Submitted paper: ‘SIX (2017): Individual and Collective Herstories on the Musical Theatre Stage’

 Song, Stage and Screen XVI: Pluralities – Performances, Practices & Participatory Cultures (Spaces & Places), University of Portsmouth, 30th June 2022

 Submitted paper: 'SIX (2017) and Diana (2019): Feminist empowerment on the musical theatre stage?’ 

PhD project


Queens, Teams and the Chance to be Seen: ‘Herstory’, Feminism and Biographical Musical Theatre (2009–present)

PhD Project Abstract

Leah's research focuses on a neglected genre, the biographical musical, and rarely considered questions about female agency within the construction and performance of these musicals. In so doing, it will significantly build on Stacy Wolf’s groundbreaking work on female musical characters and Grace Barnes’ explorations of female representation and gender inequality, predominantly in commercial English-language musicals.

Name of supervisors

Dr Elinor Parsons, Dr Alissa Clarke & Dr Paola Botham (Birmingham City University)

leah quality 300 x 400