I am a practitioner, academic and researcher working in the field of socially engaged theatre and sexual health. My areas of research include feminist-led research, arts in health and theatre-making in urban settings, academia and motherhood, and the role of women in theatre.
Currently, I am Senior Lecturer in Applied Theatre and Community Performance at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
I occasionally write on Medium.
My practice and research uses socially engaged theatre to address the challenges of safe and equitable healthcare provision and of negotiating safe sexual health. Since 2003, I have researched and developed social theatre practices as ways of commencing discussions around sexual and other health concerns, predominantly in South Africa, and in Tanzania and the UK. I have predominantly worked in urban areas, developing applied theatre as a way of engaging young adults and women living with HIV in discussions around health. In 2011 at the University of Manchester, I completed my practice-led doctoral project examining applied theatre practice and sexual health in Nyanga, a South African township.
Specifically, I use applied theatre and creative arts-based practice to create safe spaces with communities to explore their health concerns and respond to further structural inequalities including gender equity and social justice within their wider social networks. Working collaboratively is a core value of my practice and extends to my research and practice with academic colleagues and public sector organisations. I collaborate with medical practitioners and NGOs to run projects exploring health concerns and experiences of urban living. More information on these projects can be found here.
I have shared my research and practice at conferences both nationally and internationally, including in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the US and in Sweden. I have published articles on theatre and health in a number of journals and I co-edited Applied Theatre: Performing Health and Wellbeing (2017) with Dr Veronica Baxter for Methuen Bloomsbury. My monograph, Applied Theatre and Sexual Health Communication: Apertures of Possibility for Palgrave Macmillan, due to be published this year, considers another way of approaching sexual health communication while also challenging some key tenets held in applied theatre practice, namely concepts of empowerment, nudging and questions around value and impact.
I value my pedagogic practice and the opportunities to share and learn collegiately – for me it is the space to come together and extend our understandings and ideas about politics, the ways things work and why we were so moved by a piece of performance. Inclusion is a fundamental part of this process. I value the dialogic nature of a pedagogy that allows us to speak and share fledging ideas and opinions, to debate and to laugh and thus learn. This is what excites me about teaching.
Working collegiately is at the core of my practice. There is something vital about thinking through ideas and practice together; conversations which allow different viewpoints and ideas to emerge. Laughter and playfulness are an embedded part of my pedagogic practice; I believe they are a fundamental part of learning and this approach informs my teaching.