Between Past and Future. Rewriting Histories and Intergenerational Collaboration in Developing Theatre for Young People  

Date: Friday, 9 July  2.00 - 3.30pm. 

This discussion will consider ways in which the contemporary 'crisis' of COVID might be understood as a watershed which will demand a new form of engagement by theatre-makers with young people.  The session is open to academics and theatre practitioners and designed to invite participation in a research bid. 

The discussion will explore the relevance of theatre histories and historic topics in the re-imagining of post-pandemic worlds for young people - and raise questions about curricular and social impacts that new productions might consider.  It will be led by Dr  Martin Heaney (University of East London), with Nigel Townsend (Executive Producer, Theatre of Debate) and Patrick Towell (Innovation Director, The Audience Agency).

Developing ideas that will be published in a forthcoming chapter for a Routledge Companion to Young People's Theatre, Dr Martin Heaney will open the discussion with a case study analysis of Edward Bond who has recently written an introduction to a collection of plays exploring the idea of  'crisis' in the context of the COVID pandemic, (Theatre of Crisis 2020). Bond's explicitly links the COVID-19 pandemic to a much wider 'mega-crisis', the product of a failed and unjust political and economic order. This reflection will focus on Bond's dramaturgy and the impact of his representation of histories of twentieth-century violence in plays for young people. His work will be analysed in relation to critiques of post-modernism in theatre studies, including Paula Botham's analysis of a new 'cultural appetite for historicity' (2017) and a need for re-engagement with politics, agency and historical narrative. The discussion will address, in parallel, the idea of genealogies of dramaturgical practice and how these are passed on between practitioners.       

Nigel Townsend will discuss his experience of developing theatre through the pandemic and his new production inspired by the story behind the portrait of Three Queens from Mysore by Irish painter Thomas Hickey in 1805, which drew attention to the role of female Indian aristocrats in promoting early smallpox vaccination and was a pivotal development in modern vaccination strategies. (For more information on the work of Theatre of Debate, please see their website.)

Patrick Towell will offer a producer's perspective on contemporary practice, exploring ideas of social impact and sustainability and identifying models of practice that can support the strategic development of theatre-makers working with young people.    

For more information and a link to the meeting, please email:  Martin Heaney at 


Eradicating the Award Gap in Performing Arts and Creative and Media Programmes. Co-Constructing Strategies with Students.

On July 8 2020, the Centre of Applied and Participatory Arts (CAPA) in collaboration with the University of East London's Office for Institutional Equity, held an online webinar titled Eradicating the Award Gap in Performing Arts and Creative and Media Programmes. Co-Constructing Strategies with Students.

This event addressed the continuing difference between the proportion of 2.1s and First class degrees awarded by universities to white students, compared to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students.

White students are awarded a higher proportion of 'good' degrees. At the University of East London, this difference is 19%. However, in some schools, the difference is bigger, with the most recent figures from ACI indicating that black students are 35% less likely (Asian students 17% less likely) to achieve these passes. (There is considerable variation between programmes).

This highly successful webinar brought together leading academics and students in a morning of presentation, dialogue and sharing of student 'provocations' around the 'Gap'. The event began with a keynote lecture from Prof  Aisha Richards, Central St. Martin's College and Director of Shades of Noir.

For more information on Prof. Richards and Shades of Noir visit the following websites:


You can access Prof. Richards' lecture through this link:

Through this link, you can also view alumni responses in a panel facilitated by Esohe Uwadie, Institutional Equity Officer (Office of Institutional Equity). The alumni panel: Darnell Shakespeare, Nicola Jallim, Tiah Parsan and Patric Anochie. 

The Equity Champion provocations were produced by ACI students Talyaan Pambou, Louize Williams, Nesmie Constantine and Jasz Brown who worked in collaboration with Jay Patel, Community Artist, Anti-Racist Educator and Decolonial Facilitator. The films will be used for further training and development across the University in the academic year 2020-2021.

You can view these films via this link:


Here's a report on the webinar from the University's 'InFocus' Magazine with comment from the Office of Institutional Equity: (internal link only)

This work is part of ongoing research into BAME student experience led by Dr. Martin Heaney. The webinar is also designed to support the further development of EDI's strategy for Race Equality, led by Prof. Marcia Wilson, Dean of the Office for Institutional Equity. This strategy includes the formation of a White Anti-Racist Group, a pilot project and the first of its kind at a British university.

For further information on the 'Award Gap' (known within the wider sector as the attainment gap) and UEL's work in this area, please see these links: