Bobby is Assistant Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies and joined the department in 2019. He holds a BA (Hons) in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education from the Central School of Speech and Drama and an MA in Theatre and Global Development from the University of Leeds. For his PhD Bobby was based in the drama department and Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester. His thesis offers a critique of global Theatre for Development partnerships and was awarded in 2019. Bobby has previously taught at Manchester and Staffordshire universities.
Bobby continues to specialise as a theatre maker and facilitator in a range of settings. This has included work in schools in the UK and Hong Kong, drama projects with refugees and migrants, with young people experiencing homelessness, in criminal justice contexts and internationally in global development initiatives in Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. He has worked with leading organisations including Tender Education and Arts, Cardboard Citizens, Only Connect and Amani People’s Theatre. He has been involved with the Creative English project - an applied drama approach to building confidence, belonging and English language skills among refugee and migrant communities - since 2014. Bobby has also worked as a project coordinator, trainer and consultant for a number of organisations.
Bobby’s research is primarily concerned with applied theatre. Currently, this is focussed on three projects:
Applied theatre, global development and partnerships
Theatre continues to be used to address development challenges in the global South. Funding for such projects usually comes from donors and organisations based in the global North and Western individuals frequently travel to work with partners in the South, taking on roles as theatre makers, facilitators, trainers or researchers. One-way flows of finance and knowledge risk maintaining colonial power dynamics where those from the 'developed' North act upon the 'under-developed' South. This research explores how applied theatre practitioners working globally can overcome 'developed/developing' binaries and foster more equal partnerships to address the increasingly interconnected nature of the challenges we face.
Theatre and peacebuilding
Many advocate for the possibilities of theatre and the arts to contribute positively to peacebuilding processes. Drawing on fieldwork in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya this research examines such claims and asks what limitations theatre practitioners in these countries experience when they attempt to develop projects related to peacebuilding.
Applied theatre with refugees and migrants
This research considers the mutual benefits for volunteers and participants in an applied drama project that aims to increase the confidence, sense of belonging and English language skills of refugees and migrants.
Teaching and Supervision
Theatre and Performance in Context (Module convenor)
Applying Theatre (autumn term)
Independent Research Option - practical project supervision
Postgraduate - MA Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change (from 2020)
Theorising and Facilitating Applied Theatre: Ethics and Reflective Practice
Director of Practice
International Exchange Officer
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
Caitlin Gleeson, Hughes, J., Batsleer, L., Anuradha, K., Smith, B., Wallwein, L., Wilson, J., Reeve, S. and Gale, M. (2017) ‘Audience Responses to The House’, Studies in Theatre and Performance, 31 (1): 95-113. 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.
- Member of Theatre and Performance Research Association
- PhD Drama (University of Manchester)
- MA Theatre and Global Development (University of Leeds)
- BA (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education (Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London)
Please contact me for an appointment if you wish to meet outside of these times