Professor Helen Nicholson

Helen Nicholson

Professor Helen Nicholson

Professor of Theatre and Performance

Phone: +44 1784 443944

Research interests

 

I came to Royal Holloway in 2000 from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, where I lectured in drama on the BA and PGCE courses. My research is now focused on contemporary theatre and applied performance, which means that I have worked in many different and sometimes rather unglamorous places – in schools, in care homes for the elderly, in day centres for people with head injuries, in prisons, in hostels for the homeless, in orphanages in Africa. My research into theatre education raised fundamental questions, relevant to all forms of theatre, about how far innovative theatre and performance practices are compatible with learning, community engagement and civic participation. It investigated the performative pedagogies of theatre-makers who work in the current political climate in which the arts are charged with healing social division, and where the creative industries are a major source of employment and urban regeneration. My book, Theatre, Education and Performance: The Map and the Story was awarded the Distinguished Book Award by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education in 2012.                         

 My research into theatre in non-metropolitan spaces and community performance has led to an interest in amateur theatre. I am principal investigator for two major AHRC funded research projects, Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space and For Love or Money? Collaboration between Amateur and Professional Theatre, in partnership with the RSC. This research, funded under the AHRC Connected Communities Scheme, investigates the social and cultural significance of amateur dramatics as a craft, as creative practice, as entertainment and as heritage. Further information can be found on our website: http://amateurdramaresearch.com

 

I am also leading a research project on arts practices in residential care homes for older adults, many of whom are living with dementia. I am interested in the contribution made by artists to the emotional geographies of older adults, and what 'home' means to those living in residential care. This research extends to the dramatic representation of ageing and public engagement in theatre that questions assumptions about old age. 

 I am co-editor of the leading international journal in applied theatre and drama education, RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, published by Routledge (www.informaworld.com/crde), and serve on the international board ofthe journal The Applied Theatre Research.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

 

 

Teaching

I continue to enjoy teaching at all levels, and I have introduced many new courses into the undergraduate curriculum that are associated with my research interests. These include courses in theatre for young audiences, theatre education, performance of memory, contemporary theatre-making and devised theatre. Many of these courses involve placements in different settings. I introduced applied theatre to the MA in Theatre, a course which has contributed to the careers of many successful practitioners and theatre educators.

My recent PhD students have researched different aspects of applied theatre and contemporary performance. I welcome inquires from potential PhD students in my research areas.

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