I am a practitioner and researcher committed to exploring social action and change with community groups through arts and performance. Before working in universities, I was a freelance community artist, workshop leader and consultant involved in a range of art-based projects including: violence prevention; work with young people in criminal justice settings; exploring peace and conflict; drugs and sex and relationships education; projects with refugees and migrants. I also devised theatre for and with different groups, including forum theatre about HIV/AIDS and gender-equality, performances for young audiences and work with young people experiencing homelessness. Alongside facilitating and creating projects, I also coordinated and managed several initiatives, trained people in the use of art-based approaches and developed handbooks and resources for several charities. I have been part of projects in the UK, Kenya, Hong Kong, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.
Currently, I am focussed on research projects which include establishing a network of practitioners and researchers involved in arts and peacebuilding and on Practice as Research with young people to explore the climate crisis.
Through both my teaching and research I hope to examine the claims made for applied and socially engaged performance and support artistic and creative approaches to activism, education, and social action.
Director MA Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change
Deputy Chair, SCAPVC Ethics Committee
Practice and Production Officer
My research and practice explores the possibilities of applied and socially engaged performance. I am particularly interested in how we might foster global networks of solidarity and collaboration through the arts. Previous and ongoing projects have investigated global partnerships in theatre and development projects, explored the climate crisis through interdisciplinary artistic approaches, and examined the challenges and limitations of theatre and peacebuilding projects in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. I currently supervise PhD students working on related topics, and welcome proposals exploring aspects of applied theatre, performance and the climate crisis, and arts and global development.
Research projects include:
The Possibilities and Limitations of Theatre and Peacebuilding in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda (2019)
I was the Principal Investigator for this project, which was funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies through the GCRF. I undertook research in Rwanda and Uganda as well as focus groups and workshops in partnership with Amani People's Theatre in Kenya. The project considered the challenges practitioners face when working on peacebuilding projects and I am collaborating with several practitioners I met with on articles and book chapters to share learning. The project fed into a successful AHRC application to establish a global network of practitioners and researchers.
With One Breath (2021)
This project was funded by the AHRC and was a collaboration between young people working with Highly Sprung Performance Company (Coventry, UK), Rafiki Theatre (Uganda) and visual artists Becky Warnock and Ashley James Brown. We explored the local and global causes and impacts of the climate crisis through physical theatre, photography, film and sound culminating in a digital 'call to action' regarding the climate crisis. You can access this here
Acting on Climate: Co-creating Performance and Digital Ethnographies for Youth Eco-Citizenship (2021-2022)
I am the Co-Investigator for this project, working with Dr Rachel Turner-King (Principal Investigator), Dr Reem Doukmak (Research Assistant) and artists including Ashley James Brown, Fluxx Theatre and Lens Change. This project is funded by the University of Warwick's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and will involve a group of young people creating verbatim performance about the climate crisis. This feeds into a wider network of related projects in Canada, Taiwan, Colombia, Greece and India, led by researchers at Toronto University.
Stages of Violence Research Network (2021-2023)
I am the Principal Investigator for this two year AHRC-funded network, working alongside Dr Maëline Le Lay (Co Investigator) and collaborators in Northern Ireland (Derry Playhouse and Kabosh), Rwanda (Hope Azeda, Mashirika Arts and Dr Assumpta Mugiraneza, IRIBA Center) and Kenya (Maxwel Okuto, Amani People's Theatre and Dr Michael Owiso, Maseno Univerity). This project invites practitioners and scholars in each of the locations to share skills and reflect on the relationships between theatre, performance, conflict and peace.
Forthcoming Theatre and Global Development: Performing Partnerships, Palgrave
Forthcoming Applied Theatre and the Sustainable Development Goals: Crises, Collaboration and Beyond, co-edited with Taiwo Afolabi and Abdul Karim Hakib, Routledge
Journal articles and chapters
Forthcoming.'With One Breath: Creating art on the climate crisis between the UK and Uganda', co-written with Hussein Maddan, Becky Warnock and Rachel Turner-King
2023 ' Keeping the Peace? Perspectives from Kenyan practitioners working in applied performance and peacebuilding on project challenges, funding, and support', co-written with Maxwel Okuto, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. Doi: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13569783.2023.2211932
2022 'Performing Violence, Devising Futures? Performance with and by young people in Rwanda and Uganda', co-written with Hope Azeda and Lillian Mbabazi in Routledge Companion to Theatre and Young People, edited by Selina Busby, Kelly Freebody and Charlene Rajendran
2022 'Performance and the transnational public sphere in Rwanda' in Cahiers de Litterature Orale
2022 'Three reflections on facilitation' in Terms of Engagement, by Becky Warnock and Kate Watson
2021 'Water, sanitation and hygiene in refugee camps in Uganda: Photo essay', co-written with Hussein Maddan in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2020.1792282
2020 'Conclusion/Provocations: Applied theatre and global/sustainable/development', Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2020.1804348
2017 ‘Performing Partnership: The possibilities of decentring the expertise of international practitioners in Theatre for Development Partnerships’, Applied Theatre Research, 5 (1): 37-51. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1386/atr.5.1.37_1
2017 'You have to do it - it's important! If you don't nobody will know what it's like!': A response to The House from an applied theatre practitioner', Studies in Theatre and Performance, 31 (1): 101-104. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14682761.2017.1282403
2017 ‘Reflecting on the Challenges of Applied Theatre in Kenya’, co-written with Maxwel Okuto, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22 (1): 292-300. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2017.1293509
2015 ‘What’s in a Name? Shifts in Identity, Impact and Delivery in a National Volunteer-led Programme Using Applied Drama to Learn English’, co-written with Anne Smith, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20 (4): 524-530.
Teaching and Supervision
Ways of Doing - unit on community performance and climate crisis (2nd year)
On it's Feet: Approaches to Devising and Developing Ensemble Performance (2nd year, Module Convenor)
Applying Theatre (3rd year, Module Convenor)
Theorising and Facilitating Applied Theatre: Ethics and Reflective Practice (Module Convenor)
Emily Walsh (2020 - ) Facilitating a global conversation around disability between communities in the UK and Uganda: The impact art practices can have on social change (co-supervised with Prof Yvette Hutchison)
Stephen Okpadah (2021 - ) Applied Theatre and climate justice in Nigeria (co-supervised with Dr Milija Gluhovic)
AMM Noor-Us-Saiyem Khan (2022 - ) Applied Performance, sustainable development and refugee communities (co-supervised with Dr Xiaodong Lin)