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Centre for Performing Arts Development (CPAD)

performing arts

About us

Welcome to the Centre for Performing Arts Development (CPAD)

The Centre for Performing Arts Development (CPAD) at the University of East London (UEL) is focused on developing original and innovative research in Performing Arts including Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies, Music, Dance and Creative Writing with a particular emphasis on socially engaged practices, performance philosophy and cultures, practice-based research, digital and interdisciplinary research.


Dr Eve Katsouraki - Senior Lecturer, Participatory Arts -
Dr Ananda Breed - Senior Lecturer, Participatory Arts -

Dr Tim Atkins - Lecturer, Creative Writing -
Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn - Senior Lecturer, Participatory Arts -
David Chapman - Senior Lecturer, Sound Art -
Dr Yumi Hara Cawkwell - Senior Lecturer, Sound Art -
Dr Guy Harries - Senior Lecture, Sound Art -
Dr Dominic Hingorani - Senior Lecturer, Participatory Arts -
Dr Tessa McWatt - Reader, Creative Writing -
Jorge Lopes Ramos - Lecturer, Participatory Art -
Jill Nelmes - Senior Lecturer, Creative Writing -
Dr Helen Reddington - Senior Lecturer, Sound Art -
Dr Jo Thomas - Senior Lecturer, Sound Art -
Clare Qualmann - Lecturer, Performative Landscapes -

Research groups

Participatory Arts and Socially Engaged Performance explores the cultural, political, and practical applications of the performing arts. Breed’s research in the international exploration of drama in conflict resolution has been taken up in locations including Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Argade’s dance tours with the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, funded by bodies including the British Council, have explored ideas of public space and community in specific Indian cities. Castelyn uses dance to explore issues of body and identity in the post-apartheid political and national context of South Africa. Other research has explored the question of locatedness in different contexts, such as Hingorani’s work on Asian theatre in Britain, and Sotelo’s engagement with subjectivity, place and memory in the physical and spatial context of the walk.

Testing and exploring the relation between performer and audience is a theme in the submission with Ramos’s research exploring the boundaries between audience and performer, disrupting the space of the theatre and bringing the audience into the play in both dramatic and spatial contexts. Hingorani’s work brings new and non-traditional audiences to engage with the theatrical process, involving them as actors, writers and audiences attracting significant funding from Arts Council England. Breed’s work with the gacaca courts of Rwanda explores the ways in which performance and audience participation can be used to transform fixed positions and relations. Thomas’s (Susanne) theatrical and choreographic work is focused on the relation between performance, technology, site and audience. An innovative use of social media characterises much of this work, including Ramos and Thomas. Finally Katsouraki engages with theories and methodologies of drama to reflect on the historical and political dimensions of theatrical performance, and on aesthetic and philosophical issues more broadly.

Sound Art is represented by a number of innovative musicians and electronic artists for whom experimentation with the possibilities of sound and its relation to space is a key activity.  An exploration of the possibilities of live performance in changing spaces is particularly significant in the work of Harries and Thomas, whose work incorporates site-specific performances and installations in a range of venues, including art galleries. Cawkwell’s range of recordings also explores the possibilities of electronic sound, while Chapman’s art installations often focus on the use of natural sounds recorded and reused in situ.  Thomas’ (Jo) Crystal was nominated for ISMC World Music Day by the British Jury (2012), Quartz for Alpha E82 (2011), and the Net Audio Award, Public Vote for Alpha Live (2011). Thomas has been listed on the top ten music list for Nature of Habit on a-musik. Her public art project Amber was written for Be Open Sound Portal in Trafalgar Square, commissioned by Sound and Music, Arup and Be Open. The work was presented to an audience of over 1 million over pedestrians on 18-21 September 2012.
Performative Landscapes extends notions of audience and participation to practices of community-based-arts through the practice of walking. The research highlights notions of agency through the mapping of physical terrain and geographic spaces – guiding walks that encounter memories, narratives, and histories – often outside the dominant or collective discourses. The performance and research practices developed by colleagues at UEL including Qualmann and Sotelo have fostered a relationship with other public practices across disciplines with ecologists, geographers, historians, cultural geographers, archaeologists, architects, ramblers, and other walkers for pleasure as a radical engagement with space and place.
Creative Writing integrates a range of ‘text as performance’ practices including a public reading of the poem ‘I Love the Rich’ as part of the Pussy Riot and the Art of Political Protest conference and book launch in the UK Parliament on 15 October 2012 (Atkins). Atkins established Onedit in 2000, which is currently at issue 17. Onedit has published internationally-renowned (and award-winning) authors such as Alice Notley, Clark Coolidge, Jackson Mac Low, and, more recently, the latest crop of new British writers. Onedit is archived as an ‘online journal of merit’ at the British Library, and has a very high reputation for its work and its design amongst readers in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Europe. While Atkins explores the poetic limits of translation, McWatt’s novel Vital Signs explores practice-led research in the area of narrative voice and the limitations of the text-based novel. Nelmes develops the critique of screenplay writing and methodologies through a series of monographs, journal articles and practice based screenwriting projects using archival materials from the British Film Institute (BFI).

Our research addresses community participation and action, ethics, social inequality and cultural politics. We are committed to performance practice as a means of transformation, as well as to communicating our research as widely as possible in other ways. IPAD has hosted a number of conferences including The East End Seen Through Performance (2009), Archiving for the Future: using archives to enhance learning and teaching in drama and theatre studies (2010), Teaching Popular Dance in Higher Education (2010) and Making Theatre for Young Audiences (2011). One of IPAD’s founding projects - the East London Theatre Archive (ELTA), that later developed into a second project called Clustering and Enhancing Digital Archives for Research (CEDAR) –provided free on-line access to a digitised archive of over 20,000 materials (playbills, scripts, posters, designs, photos, news clips, etc) as primary source materials from East London theatres including Hoxton Hall, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Hackney Empire, and Theatre Venture.  UEL was awarded £500,000 from JISC for ELTA and £250,000 from JISC for CEDAR. Artists, historians, students and the public at large have access to the materials. Thus, IPAD engages the public not only in outreach through theatrical performance, but through on-line sources, workshops, art installations, and site-specific performances, publishing our work in non-academic and academic locations and contributing to the public dissemination of knowledge, both nationally and internationally.

Research environment

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Contact us

Contact the Centre for Performing Arts Development:

Email CPAD -
Dr Eve Katsouraki -
Dr Ananda Breed -