Dr David Overend

Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies


David Overend is a researcher in interdisciplinary education and contemporary art and performance. He joined the University of Edinburgh in 2019 after three years at Royal Holloway, University of London, and five years at the University of the West of Scotland. He has also taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the University of Glasgow. As a director, David has worked for the National Theatre of Great Britain and several other theatres, and has toured internationally with award-winning productions. His books include Performance in the Field: Interdisciplinary practice-as-research (Palgrave Macmillan 2023), Making Routes: Journeys in performance 2010-2020, co-authored with Laura Bissell (Triarchy Press 2021), and an edited collection, Rob Drummond: Plays with participation (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2021). David is currently working with Edinburgh Futures Institute as Deputy Director of the new MA(hons) Interdisciplinary Futures.


Responsibilities & affiliations

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

External Examiner, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, University of Birmingham

Chair of the board of trustees, A Quiet Revolution humanist charity

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

- contemporary art practice and theory

- contemporary theatre and performance

- artistic/creative research

- creative approaches to space and place

- interdisciplinary learning and teaching

Research summary

My research focusses on interdisciplinary education and contemporary art and performance. I am interested in the different ways in which collaboration and creativity take place and move through space, both physically and virtually. Drawing on my training and practice as a director, I use creative methods to work with teams of artists and researchers at a variety of field sites. Previous projects have visited a river, a museum, a nightclub, a motorway and a cave. I work with education, fieldwork and performance as subjects, methods and outputs.

Interdisciplinary education: I am currently Principal Investigator on Crossing the Line: Developing an Interdisciplinary Toolkit for Higher Education. I am interested in the experience of students in the interdisciplinary classroom and how challenge-based courses and programmes are designed and delivered. This project will lead to an online resource for learners and educators working across disciplinary lines. Funded by the University of Edinburgh’s Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme.

Contemporary art and performance: My research takes place in the field and often employs creative methods to understand and respond to specific sites. I was recently PI on the project Performing Wild Geographies, working with scientists, geographers and artists at conservation sites and rewilding projects. Since 2010, with Laura Bissell, I have co-convened makingroutes.org – a network and online resource for researchers and artists working with creative mobilities. I also research twenty-first century Scottish theatre, with a particular interest in new writing.  This research has been funded by Creative Scotland, South Ayrshire Council, the Carnegie Trust and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

As a director, I have often collaborated with the Scottish playwright-performer, Rob Drummond. Our theatre has usually involved audience participation, ranging from the use of a volunteer assistant in our magic show, Bullet Catch (the Arches, 2012), to the audience votes of The Majority (National Theatre, 2017). This work has been funded by Creative Scotland and the numerous theatres and festivals that have programmed our work.