Kirstin Smith grew up in Edinburgh where she attended Boroughmuir Comprehensive School. From 1995, she worked as an actor in film, television and theatre, appearing in several BBC dramas (Kidnapped, Medical Ethics, Sea of Souls). She studied English at St John's College, Cambridge, where she wrote dissertations on the short fiction of Muriel Spark and Henry James. Kirstin worked with the Playwright's Studio, Scotland, 7:84 and Oran Mor workshopping and performing new plays. In 2009-2010 she completed an MA in Text and Performance Studies at RADA and King's College, London, with a focus on playwrighting. Subsequently, she worked as a performer and dramaturg with several devising companies.
From 2012-16, Kirstin undertook a PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, supervised by Professor Nicholas Ridout. Her thesis analysed the development of stunts as performance and discourse in late nineteenth century New York. In 2014, she won the TDR (The Drama Review) Student Essay Contest for her article about an endurance walking contest at Madison Square Garden. She spent three months as a Fellow at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress undertaking archival research, and completed her PhD in 2017. In 2016, she joined LDC at UEA. Her essay, ' "He was no fool. He was a bridge jumper": Industrial fall guys in turn-of-the-century New York' was shortlisted for the British Association for Modernist Studies essay prize for early career scholars. She is now planning an archival research project focused on casting.
As well as dramaturgy and performance, Kirstin maintains an interest in fiction. She co-authored Confidence, a blend of fiction and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, published by Bloomsbury in 2016, and is now working on a solo project.
Kirstin worked for eight years as an audio describer, describing theatre, museums and architecture for blind and partially sighted audience members, and training museum staff. In October 2016, she co-organised a conference, 'The Art of Access', at the Young Vic theatre.
Luminous Connections: Risk, Value and Responsibility in a Late Nineteenth-Century High Wire Bicycle Stunt,
in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film
pp. 183-200Full Text UEA Repository
Confidence: God may be dead, but getting through finals will take a miracle,
ISBN 9781408802540Full Text UEA Repository
Stumping and Stunts: Walking in Circles in the “Go-As-You-Please” Race,
in TDR: The Drama Review
pp. 129-150Full Text UEA Repository
Key Research Interests
Kirstin is particularly interested in risk, value, identity and labour in theatre and performance, with a focus on the turn of the twentieth century and its legacies in contemporary culture. Having researched the emergence of stunts, Kirstin is now planning a project about casting at the turn of the twentieth century, particularly in relation to women.
Kirstin enjoys teaching dramaturgy, scriptwriting, performance history and historiography, and theoretical approaches to theatre and performance. In 2017-18, she'll teach Feminist Theatres, with a focus on historiography and creative engagement with archives.