Professor Alice O'Grady

Professor Alice O'Grady


I am a Professor in Applied Performance and Head of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries. Within the broad field of Applied Performance my expertise lies in using performance as a means of promoting social agency and engagement.

Having worked in secondary schools and Further Education colleges as a Drama and Theatre Studies teacher for over ten years, I took up post at the University of Leeds in 2003 and completed my PhD in 2010. During my time at the University of Leeds I have fulfilled a number of leadership roles including Admissions Tutor, Programme Leader for the MA in Applied Theatre and Intervention, Director of Student Education and now Head of School. I am a member of the University's Cultural Institute Steering Group and also a member of the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence.

I am a long standing member of the editorial team of Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture and have written extensively on festival performance, event cultures and psytrance communities.

For a number of years I was Creative Director of the performance company ...floorSpace... This company was formed during the practice based elements of my PhD. As a company made up of undergraduate students we went on to make interactive walkabout performances for contemporary music festivals and underground club spaces for over 8 years.

I am committed to the development of new and emerging artists. I mentored TaleGate Theatre Company ( as part of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries' incubation scheme. I have also worked in close conjunction with Urban Angels Circus ( to develop 'The Heavenly Court of Madame Fantaisiste' as part of the Beyond Text Small Grant award. I was chair of the Board of Trustees of Urban Angels for several years and now act as their patron.




  • Head of School

Research interests

My research is concerned with open forms of participation, play and performance within a range of contexts. I have written extensively on popular music festivals and underground club culture as well as more broadly on participatory practice.

My latest book was published by Palgrave in 2017 and is called 'Risk, Participation and Performance Practice: critical vulnerabilities in a precarious world.'

My research interests include:

  • Participatory performance and risk;
  • Critical pedagogies;
  • Interactivity;
  • Applied performance and social engagement;
  • Applied performance and health;
  • Sub-cultures and the performance of identity;
  • Festival performance and festival cultures:
  • Underground club culture and performance;
  • Play theory;
  • Compositional strategies for context-specific performance;
  • Relational performance;
  • Aesthetics of psychedelic trance and participatory cultures.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Underground Club Spaces and Interactive Performance
  • MA Drama Education and Cultural Studies
  • PGCE Drama and English
  • BA (hons) English Literature and Theatre Studies

Professional memberships

  • International Association for the Study of Popular Music
  • Creative Industries Federation

Student education

My teaching is located within the field of Applied Performance and Intervention. I have taught extensively on the BA Theatre and Performance degree and also contribute to the programme MA Applied Theatre and Intervention. I also supervise a number of PhD students including three White Rose scholars.

My teaching specialisms include interventionist and applied theatre, participatory practice, community and educational drama, theatre for social change, prison theatre, festival performance and interactivity.

My teaching has seen students engaged in various practical projects across the region working in collaboration with a diverse range of external groups and agencies. All projects use performance and participation for social agency and engagement and include work with primary and secondary schools as well as community groups, OAPs, asylum seekers, young offenders and adult prisoners. I have been involved in educational research, training and consultancy for many years and have worked in close collaboration with HMP New Hall, HMP/YOI Wetherby and Priory and Springfield PRUs (Pupil Referral Units).


Research groups and institutes

  • Theatre at Leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>