Dr Matthew Elliott

Dr Matthew Elliott


I am a researcher, facilitator and director with an interest in the political possibilities of applied theatre practice. After training at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, I have worked collaboratively on a national and international basis with a range of theatre companies including Collective Encounters (UK), Colectivo Sustento (Chile), Lagnet (Kenya) and Equator Ensemble (Kenya).

Specialising in theatre for social change practice, I have worked extensively with young people and adults in a range of settings including the criminal justice system, educational institutions and health settings. Most recently, my practice has been specifically focused on theatre and development practice and its uses in health related contexts in East Africa. 


  • MA Applied Theatre and Intervention - Programme leader

Research interests

The broad theme of my research has concerned the ability for applied theatre to create political and social change. This was the main focus of my PhD (Practice Based) study that documented three practice case studies developed with young people that aimed to provoke social change in the UK and Chile. This led to a range of finding concerning the possibilities and limitations of practice and the importance of contextual structures in social change practice.

Most recently, I have been working  with Professor Plastow on creating, documenting and evaluating the use of applied theatre practice in health related contexts in East Africa, specifically Kenya. My current projects are as follows: 

Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellowship: Masculinities and Mental Health - An arts-based inquiry into the relationship between masculinities, cultural expectations and mental health in Luo and Basoga men. 

Due to masculine expectations and cultural perceptions, Luo and Busoga men, in their respective countries of Kenya and Uganda, can experience a range of mental health conditions which can lead to violent and problematic behaviours. Masculinities and Mental Health will use bottom-up, culturally responsive, arts and health workshops to seek to understand the cultural causes of stress and depression reported by men in Luo and Busoga cultures.  My interdisciplinary approach will bring together arts and health practice as well as anthropological methodologies including ethnographic interviews. The outcomes of the research will be; a) practice as research outputs by participants (theatre, song and poetry) b) an article published in a peer reviewed journal c) a set of policy briefs in each location.  

Using arts-based workshops to share knowledge on reproductive and sexual health with rural communities in Nyanza province, western Kenya (AHRC Follow on Fund)

A year long engagement programme that worked with 40 contiguous small communities in rural Nyanza, Western Kenya, to respond to community calls for improved information to enable people to make choices of benefit to individuals, families and community in relation to sexual and reproductive health. The project collaborated with Equator Ensemble, a theatre company based in Kisumu, and developed four theatre and development performances for the mentioned 40 communities resulting in the delivery of 160 performances. The project developed on previous work undertaken on the Maternal Mortality in East Africa project and partnered with Professor of Theatre and Performance Christopher Odhiambo and Anthropologist Dr Willice Abuya from Moi University, Kenya. 

Culture and development: Consultation, training and policy development with NGOs and artists in Kisumu County, Kenya. (ESRC Impact Acceleration)

Culture and development: Consultation, training and policy development with NGOs and artists in Kisumu County, Kenya is an eight month project that will develop training methodologies and a range of policy briefs on effective partnership working between NGOs and artists in western Kenya in support of development programmes. In collaboration with four NGOs and a representative group of artists in Kisumu, we will establish a collaborative working model to improve understandings of how arts-based tools can best work in support of development agendas. The project will conduct 1) a range of consultation workshops to identify how the arts are utilised by NGOs and problems with achieving impact 2) training workshops for NGO workers on arts-based approaches and management of collaborations with artists 3) a sector wide dissemination event for artists, NGOs and local policymakers that will include presentation of the developed NGO training model and policy briefs developed from the project. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD - Practice Based (University of Leeds)
  • MA (University of Leeds)
  • BA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
  • PGCTLHE (Rose Bruford)

Professional memberships

  • FHEA
  • Mental Health Research Network (University of Leeds)
  • Centre for African Studies (University of Leeds)
  • Participation Research Group (PCI)
  • Pedagogic Research Group (PCI)

Student education

I am currently the programmne leader on the taughtpostgraduate programme: Applied Theatre and Intervention. As well as programme leadership, I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including Interpreting Theatre and Performance Histories, Independent Research Project (BA & MA), Creative Practices and Performance contexts, Studying Theatre and Performance, Researching Theatre and Performance as well as Performance and collaboration Enterprise. I have a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in HE from Rose Bruford where my action research focused on the teaching of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed technique.