Lynne McCarthy

Lynne Mccarthy

Senior Lecturer

Senior Lecture in Applied Theatre, Centre for Applied and Performing Arts

, School of Arts and Creative Industries

I lecture in social performance in the Performing Arts Department at UEL. My scholarly work concentrates on performance and cultural politics in particular cultural readings of community, law, housing justice, feminism and instances where they intersect with performance and performance-making.

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My teaching and research specialisms encompass the areas of social performance, the cultural politics of theatre, activism as performance and performance’s relationship to law and housing. I joined UEL in 2018 after completing my PhD at Queen Mary on an AHRC supported project about performance and the cultural politics of property. 

I have been a cultural worker involved in the areas of refuge, housing, education and nomadism in Ireland and the UK. My recent practice inspects ways to initiate justice claims with performance as method.  Through art activist and action research modes, I have undertaken solidarity projects in the UK on evictions and questions of shelter especially around nomadic claims to property and have been involved in collaborative projects on women's rights in Ireland working for 5 years to widen public debate on the 8th Amendment through the collaborative direct-action group, Speaking of IMELDA. 

I am from Ireland and have worked in London since 2009 teaching in various universities including Birkbeck, Essex, Queen Mary, and Central School of Speech and Drama. I worked as a theatre director for Macnas, Ireland when I completed my BA in Drama Studies at Trinity, Dublin.

I welcome PhD students in the areas of:

  • Housing and performance
  • Performance as social action
  • Feminism and performance

External roles

  • External Examiner, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, Kingston University


My research was provoked by experiences of city dwelling, examining how contemporary subjects of property in London – social tenants, nomads, private renters, and guardians - have their agency defined through their relations with property. I am fascinated by the performative aspects of use rights and how these are established or curtailed through access to the city and where cultural politics play a part in this.  Furthermore, I apprehend the unresolved problems that are encountered through contemporary property relations through the effects of the financialisaton of property markets, the London housing crisis (2008-), and the politics of housing that foreshadowed the catastrophe at Grenfell Tower.

My interests include: the Focus E15 Campaign and social tenancies in Stratford; the regeneration of the Market Estate in Islington and the politics of guardianships in social housing; the creative interventions of private renter groups, Radical Housing Network and Space Hijackers; and, the spectacular and brutal eviction of 300 Travellers from Dale Farm, Essex in 2011. 

Conference and Seminar Organising

  • 2015: Material Matters: a cross disciplinary panel held monthly at Queen Mary. Organised with Shane Boyle, Caoimhe Mader McGuinnes, Cecilia Sachs Olsen, Elyssa Livergant and Rachel Cockburn. 2015-16 academic session.
  • 2014: Conference co-organiser and session chair. Seeing Like a City (with Charlotte Bell and Elyssa Livergant). Featuring keynotes from Mariana Valverde (Professor of Criminology, Uni of Toronto) and Michael McKinnie (Queen Mary, London), London, June 2014.
  • 2013: Conference supporting organizer and session chair. Performance and Mystical Experience, a collaboration between the seminar series, Quorum (Queen Mary) and the Theatre and Philosophy Working Group, TaPRA (with Eve Katsouraki and Tony Fisher). Featuring keynotes from Alan Read (KCL) and Patrick Ffrench (KCL), London, May 2013.
  • 2012: Co-organiser for the seminar series, Quorum, at Queen Mary, University of London. A postgraduate run seminar for invited speakers including Brian Singleton (TCD), TJ Demos (UCL), Dave Beech (UAL) and Fintan Walsh (Birkbeck). 2012-13 academic session. 

Invited Presentations

Speaking of IMELDA keynote performance lecture: 'Homing in on the States we are in’ at 1916: Home: 2016, conference hosted by the Department of Drama, NUI Galway, October 2016. Keynote chaired by Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West. Sponsored by FemSoc at National University of Ireland, Galway.  Conference organisers, Dr Miriam Haughton, Dr. Charlotte McIvor and Dr. Emilie Pine.

Speaking of IMELDA keynote performance lecture: 'Stocking up at the Kitchen Table' at The FLaK Seminar: Mixing Feminism, Legality and Knowledge, hosted by the journal Feminist Legal Studies, and co-hosted by the Institute of Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode, the Equality and Diversity Forum and Speaking of IMELDA. Department of Law, Queen Mary, June 2016. Conference organiser, Dr. Ruth Fletcher.

'Performance and Property in London, a brief mapping' Peopling the Palaces: Panel on Property, Queen Mary, London, June 2015.

'Statecraft and the Stranger: cultural lets in private property' at  London Theatre Seminar, Senate House, London, April 2015.

'Gentrification and The Market Estate Project' in Look at the E(state) we are in (Jordon McKenzie/Live Art Development Agency), Bethnal Green, July 2013. 

'The Inoperative Community and Traveller Politics', Cultural Mobililty International Workshop, University of Bern, Switzerland, June 2012.


'Speaking of IMELDA and the performance of hostility/hospitality in Ireland's abortion tourism,' working group: Performance and the Body, TaPRA, University of Exeter, 4-5 September 2019.

'Contaminated Topographies: nomadic infrastructures and the post eviction scene', Theatres of Contagion: Infectious Performance, Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre, London, 11-12 May 2017.

Speaking of IMELDA, ‘Reproductive Justice in Ireland, North and South’, Queer Café, The Field, Newcross Gate, London, 7 February 2016. 

Speaking of IMELDA, Royal College of Art (Doctoral students), London, February 2015.

'Speaking of IMELDA: culture and activism', Reproductive Rights in Ireland, LSE Centre for Human Rights and Amnesty, LSE, London, March 2015.

'Aesthetics at the Impasse', Questions of Aesthetics and Participation, University of Hull, Hull, October 2013.

'Soil Depositions: performing property values at Dale Farm', Reflections on Activist Objects: The Material Culture of Social Movements, V&A Research Department, London, September 2013. 

'Aesthetics at the impasse' IFTR, Barcelona, July 2013.

'Soil Depositions', Artaud Forum 3: Theatre and Resonant Politics, Brunel, London, March 2013.

'The Properties of Theatrocracy at Dale Farm', Performance, Activism, Resistance, PSI, Leeds, July 2012. 

'The Politics of Aesthetic Substitution: 'decanting' the Market Estate', Being Seen, Being Heard, Chelsea Theatre, London, November 2011.

'Cultural Desserts and the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding', TaPRA, Kingston University, London, September 2011.

'Effigies of the Living: Examining Arts Interventions in Social Housing', TaPRA, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan, Wales, September 2010.

'The Agency of the Applied Body', Theatre Applications, Central School of Speech and Drama, London, April 2010. 

Selected Cultural and Theatre Practice

Speaking of IMELDA (London, 2013- 2017) 
I was a member of the collaborative direct action feminist performance group, Speaking of IMELDA, whose performances addressed women’s reproductive justice in Ireland (North and South) prior to the repealing of the 8th Amendment in 2017. The group was inter-generational and multidisciplinary with perspectives in politics, activism, health, law, film and theatre fomenting the work. Our actions were widely reported appearing in publications such as New York Times, the Washington Post and the Irish Times. 

Soil Depositions (London, 2011-2014)
Soil Depositions was a cultural action that re-appropriated property discarded in eviction. The project addressed the expulsion of eighty-six Irish Traveller families from Dale Farm in Essex on the 19 October 2011 as a way to consider how institutions of property within the UK, such as the planning system, enable participation. Soil Depositions was prompted by the actions of three ex-Dale Farm resident women when they donated soil from the site of their former home. The soil was subsequently deposited, framed and documented in various national and international locations. Professor Alan Read (KCL) discusses the project in Theatre and Law (Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, 2015). This work was exhibited at the Blavatnick Building in the Tate Modern as part of the exhibition, Dale Farm – the Eviction (June 2019). 

Re-discriminating Dale Farm (Basildon, Essex, 2012)
For the UN's international Migrant Day on December 18, 2011, I undertook a project  with the artist, Kelly Green and with Traveller women from Dale Farm and under Tania Bruguera's umbrella project, Immigrant Movement International. The project collected testimonies of women at Dale Farm about their eviction experiences and participants read from the Immigrant Movement International Manifesto. 

The Market Estate Project (Market Estate, N6 9DZ, London, 2010)
Collaborator on an installation, Flat 19, with urban artist Elli Resvanis. The project occurred alongside the 'decanting' of the residents at the Market Estate. As a guardian on the estate, I had a unique insight into the cultural politics of artists intersecting with the diminishing property rights of the social tenants. 


  • McCarthy, Lynne, 'Focus E15: Performing nuisance as a feminist narrative of Property,' Studies in Theatre and Performance, a special issue on 'Housing, Activism and Performance,' 40 (2020), pp. 21-34.
  • McCarthy, Lynne, 'Contaminated Topographies: nomadic infrastructures and the post eviction scene at Dale Farm', Theatres of Contagion: Infectious Performance, ed. Fintan Walsh, (Bloomsbury: London and New York, September 2019). 
  • McCarthy, Lynne, 'Aesthetics at the Impasse: The Unresolved Property of Dale Farm', Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20 (2015), 74–86.
  • McCarthy, Lynne, 'Domicide and the Olympics' in 'Comment: Sochi 2014,' Interventions: Contemporary Theatre Review, 24.2 (May 2014). 
  • Speaking of IMELDA (Anna Carnegie, Marian Larragy, Lynne McCarthy, Tina Ní Bhloscaidh, Treasa O'Brien,  Ann Rossiter, Helena Walsh) 'A Radical Feminist Diaspora: Speaking of IMELDA, reproductive justice and Ireland' in the Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics, edited by Uri Gordon and Ruth Kinna, (Routledge: London and New York, 2019).
  • Speaking of IMELDA (Clare Henry, Stephanie Hanlon, Marian Larragy, Lynne McCarthy, Tina Ní Bhloscaidh, Treasa O'Brien, Sarah O'Toole, and Helena Walsh), 'Homing in on the States we are In' in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries: Commemoration, Gender and Systems of Abuse, edited by Emilie Pine, Miriam Haughton and Mary McAuliffe, (forthcoming, MUP, 2021).


McCarthy, Lynne, 'Review. Radical Contemporary Theatre Practices by Women in Ireland' ed. by Miriam Haughton and Mária Kurdi in New Theatre Quarterly, 32(2016), 395-400 (398).
McCarthy, Lynne, 'Review. Social Housing in Performance: the English Council Estate on and off Stage,' by Katie Beswick in Theatre Research International (TRI), 45 (2020), 94-95.


My primary approach to teaching is embedded in the co-construction of learning with a group facilitating meanings and experiences between peers and the development of critical thinking skills.  My precepts are underpinned by skills in pedagogies for performer training and through professional experiences in theatre making, art activism and socially engaged performance. I deliver modules in partnership with the V&A Museum developing community-based creative research investigations with students.

Core Fields of Teaching

  • Contemporary theatre’s relationships to the political and urban.
  • Cultural politics: theatre’s relationship to economy, geography, property and policy.
  • Art activism/ art interventions
  • Socially engaged performance 
  • Theatre and performance theory
  • Research methodologies in particular cultural materialism, practice as research and inter-disciplinary practices
  • Devised performance: methodologies, forms, adaptations
  • Pedagogies and histories of performance training

BA (Hons) Drama Applied Theatre Performance

Combine socially engaged performance practice with contemporary theatre, make performance for and with specific audiences.

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