Email: bobby dot smith at warwick dot ac dot uk
Phone: (+44) (0) 24 7652 3021 (Ext. 23021)
Room F03, Millburn House,
University of Warwick,
Coventry, CV4 7HS.
Tuesdays 3-4pm (face to face) or Wednesdays 12-1pm (online)
Please email me if you need to meet outside of these times.
I joined Warwick in 2019 as an Assistant Professor in Theatre and Performance, having previously taught at Manchester and Staffordshire Universities. My background is in applied and socially engaged performance, and I worked internationally as a freelance practitioner before obtaining my PhD. This included facilitating projects aiming to prevent violence against women and girls; exploring peace and conflict; drugs and sex and relationships education; and working with migrants and refugees through theatre to help build their confidence and sense of belonging in their communities. I have also devised theatre for and with different groups, including forum theatre exploring 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 and have been a trainer and consultant for a number of charities.
My current projects include establishing a network of theatre practitioners working on peacebuilding and the creation of art with young people to explore the climate crisis. I am a collaborator in the 'Terms of Engagement' project, which brings together artists to reflect on key issues relating to socially engaged practices.
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. I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Warwick International Higher Education Academy.
Co-Director MA Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change (2021-22)
Deputy Chair, SCAPVC Ethics Committee
Practice and Production Officer
My research engages with practice, other practitioners and participants in order to explore the possibilities of applied and socially engaged performance. My previous research has investigated global partnerships in theatre and development projects and the challenges and limitations of theatre and peacebuilding projects in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Research projects include:
Stages of Violence Research Network (2021-2023)
I am the Principle Investigator for this two year AHRC-funded network, working alongside Dr Maëline Le Lay (Co Investigator) and collaborators in Northern Ireland (Elaine Forde at the MAC), Rwanda (Hope Azeda, Mashirika Arts and Dr Assumpta Mugiraneza) 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.
With One Breath (2021)
Working with visual artist Becky Warnock, Highly Sprung Theatre Company and Rafiki Theatre, this AHRC-funded project engages young people in Coventry (UK) and Kampala (Uganda) in the creation of digital 'call to action' regarding the climate crisis. I am the Principle Investigator for this project, alongside Dr Rachel Turner-King (Co Investigator).
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 (Principle Investigator) 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.
The Possibilities and Limitations of Theatre and Peacebuilding in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda (2019)
I was the Principle 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.
Bobby Smith (forthcoming) Theatre and Global Development:Performing Partnerships, Palgrave.
Hussein Maddan and Bobby Smith (2021) 'Water, sanitation and hygiene in refugee camps in Uganda: Photo essay' in Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2020.1792282
Bobby Smith (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
Bobby Smith (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
Bobby Smith (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
Maxwel Okuto and Bobby Smith (2017) ‘Reflecting on the Challenges of Applied Theatre in Kenya’, 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
Anne Smith and Bobby Smith (2015) ‘What’s in a Name? Shifts in Identity, Impact and Delivery in a National Volunteer-led Programme Using Applied Drama to Learn English’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20 (4): 524-530.
Teaching and Supervision
Contemporary Performance Practices (Module Convenor)
Applying Theatre (Module Convenor)
Theorising and Facilitating Applied Theatre: Ethics and Reflective Practice (Module Convenor)
Emily Walsh (2020 - ) 'International Development in East Africa: Global and Local Understandings of Disability and their Impact on Arts Practices' (co-supervised with Dr Yvette Hutchison)