Dr Aylwyn Walsh
- Position: Associate Professor in Performance and Social Change
- Areas of expertise: applied/ social theatre; theatre & protest; radical performance practice; feminist criminology; participatory arts; prison theatre; state violence, borders & migration; race & racism.
- Email: A.M.Walsh1@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 8720
- Location: 1.10 Stage@Leeds
- Website: Changing the Story | Twitter | ORCID
I work on performance and social change as researcher and applied theatre practitioner. I am predominantly interested in a feminist approach using critical ethnographic methods and my research spans social, political and activist performance, radical pedagogies and intercultural performance as well as arts and mental health. In addition to my work with students, I direct Company with no name - a weekly theatre session for people using mental health services.
At Leeds, I am the director of Postgraduate Research Studies in the shool of Performance and Cultural Industries and currently programme leader of the MA in Applied Theatre & Intervention. My approach to teaching, research and work prioritises an ethos that is collaborative, feminist and queer.
In the past several years I've developed practice-led research in womens prisons in the UK, and in psychiatric hospitals. I regularly practice in communities including with partners in criminal justice, as well as mental health contexts, alongside activist training in ‘disobedient theatre’.
My most recent book Prison Cultures, maps performance, resistance and desire in women’s prisons (2019).
In 2019/20, I was Principal Investigator on ‘Imagining Otherwise: Transforming Spaces of Community through Arts Education’, with collaborators in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a phase 2 project funded by Changing the Story [AHRC/GCRF]. IN 2022, we are expanding on impact with POW, a living archive project.
In 2018/19 I was co-convenor of the Sadler seminar series 'Activist Tactics: Performing Geographies of Social Change' with Prof. Paul Routledge, and co-investigator on 'ilizwi lenyaniso lomhlaba': a South African participatory youth-led project also funded by AHRC/GCRF project Changing the Story.
I co-convene the Theatre and Performance Research Association Working Group ‘Performance, Identity and Community’. In PCI, I co-convene the Participation Research Group.
In addition to leading trainings in arts activism, I have served as board member of TIDAL in Leeds, working to support activism in Leeds to be more effective in achieving social, economic and environmental justice, as part of national and international movements for change.
- Programme Leader MA Applied Theatre and Intervention
- Faculty of Arts Humanities and Cultures Research Ethics Committee
My research draws on performance that inflects wider social and political contestation. Over the past 15 years, I have been focused on work related to prison, cultural criminology and theatre in and of prison, culminating in my monograph Prison Cultures: Performance, Resistance, Desire, published in 2019 with Intellect.
Other recent publications have included work on youth activism in RIDE: Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance; women in prison for Crime, Media, Culture and Contemporary Theatre Review, on arts in healthcare for the Journal for Applied Arts and Health; on street art in Journal of Arts and Communities and about violence in Cultural Studies -Critical Methodologies. I also co-edited Remapping Crisis: A Guide to Athens, published by Zero Books (2014).
More recently, I have also engaged with South African performance and its intsersections with social change, which I have developed in projects with collaborators and organisations related to decolonisation, land rights and activist performance.
In Leeds, I run weekly arts and mental health workshops driven by methodologies of participatory arts and social change. I am also interested in radical pedagogies, performance ethnography, co-production and artistic/ learning processes.
Practice based research
My artistic work has been hosted across Europe, including Croatia, Germany, Greece, Finland, and in Mexico, the USA, Brazil, as well as Zambia and South Africa. I have worked on a wide range of freelance projects as evaluator, lead artist, and have taught in both South African and UK universities.
My performances have been staged internationally, including at the Royal National Theatre Studio, South Africa's National Arts Festival and at the Berlin Biennale. I have worked with activists in Mexico, UK and South Africa on activist training, creative processes and theatre as method.
I am recipient of the IFTR’s Helsinki Prize (2013) and the TaPRA PG Essay Prize (2012), and was shortlisted for the David Bradby Monograph Prize (TaPRA, 2021).<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 (Northampton)
- MA (Goldsmiths)
- BA (Hons) (Rhodes)
- BA (Rhodes)
In my role at Leeds, I lead practical modules in applied theatre; engage with critical theories of socially engaged performance and teach on research methods modules. I regularly teach aross PGT and UG programmes in the school.
Prior to the role as programme leader for the MA in Applied Theatre & Interventions, I have convened undergraduate modules on:
- reading performance
- improvisation and devising
- teaching drama
- performance in social and community contexts
- world theatre
- MA modules in prisons, punishment and performance
I have taught at the Universities of Lincoln, Northampton, UEL and Goldsmiths in the UK and Rhodes University (UCKAR) and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.
Research groups and institutes