Dr Helen Iball

Dr Helen Iball


I joined the Theatre Studies team in the School of English at Leeds in 2009, moving here from a lecturing post with the Department of Drama, University of Hull.

As an undergraduate, I studied Drama at the University of  Wales, Aberystwyth and stayed for my MPhil which explored twentieth century productions of medieval plays. I was appointed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and subsequently as a Set and Costume Design Tutor.

Moving to my first lectureship at University College Scarborough, I produced my PhD on Theatres of Excess, which was supervised by Professor David Ian Rabey at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Research interests

My longstanding interests are in contemporary British theatre and live art. Recently, this scope has extended to include prose, particularly autofiction and lyric essays (part memoir, part literary criticism). My current research and teaching explores texts that share an impulse to represent the psychological damage done by contemporary culture, whilst at the same time identifying hope in connections and community. It includes works by Robert Holman, Duncan Macmillan, Colum McCann, Lucy Prebble, Rebecca Solnit, and Elizabeth Strout. 

This study has grown from my project Theatre Personal: audiences with intimacy (launched 2009 and at www.theatrepersonal.co.uk) which explored contemporary nuances of the term ‘audience participation’ through workshop collaboration and conversation with key UK theatre makers including Tim Crouch, Ellie Harrison, Adrian Howells, Rajni Shah, a smith, Chris Thorpe and Hannah Jane Walker. Indeed, much of my research has been produced in dialogue with practitioners. It underpins my essays on playwright and auteur Howard Barker, as do meetings with actors and directors for my study of Sarah Kane’s Blasted, and with Bobby Baker for my essays and performances in response to her work.


<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 (Wales)
  • MPhil (Wales)
  • BA (Hons) Drama

Student education

I teach Theatre Studies core modules for BA (Hons) English Literature and Theatre Studies. A particular focus of my role is the Practical Essay, which forms the Final Year Project on this degree programme.

My undergraduate option modules in the School of English are based upon my research interests in mental health and contemporary culture, and particularly the consolations and consequences of storytelling in those contexts.

Research groups and institutes

  • PRIA
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>