Henry Bell

Henry Bell

Dr

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Digital Early Modern Performance - pedagogy and inter-cultural and multi lingual performance. Early Modern Performance - theatre direction, actor training, comic actors of Early Modern Theatre. Theatre in-the-round (history, theory and/or practice). Actor Training. Theatre Direction. Creative anti-discrimination methodologies.

Willing to speak to media

20182020

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Personal profile

Overview

I came to UWS in January 2021 from Sheffield Hallam University where I worked, in my first full time academic position, as a Senior Lecturer in Performance from 2016.

Prior to my career in Higher Education I spent nearly a decade combining professional theatre directing and applied theatre practice alongside practice-as-research and higher education teaching (please see 'Activities' section for a full list of work). During this period I worked as the Associate Director, Stephen Joseph Theatre (2013-2016), Community, Education and Literary Director, Orange Tree Theatre (2009-2013) as well as a variety of roles at Shakespeare's Globe, Almeida Theatre, freelance theatre direction and the running of DogAteCake, a company devoted to post-modern interpretations of Victorian Farce. Whilst working as a theatre professional, I also taught and made work at East 15 Drama School, Hull University, St Mary's University, Twickenham and JASSPA Drama group.

In 2016 I completed a practice based PhD at Hull University in collaboration with Stephen Joseph Theatre and Orange Tree Theatre which explored the reception of in-the-round Shakespeare performance by secondary and primary school aged children in London and Yorkshire. I trained at Exeter University (MA Staging Shakespeare) and Hull University (BA Drama) and as a junior theatre maker at Orange Tree Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe.

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am an academic and practitioner specialising in Theatre Making, Theatre-in-the-Round, Early Modern Drama and Digital Pedagogy, Applied Theatre, Actor Training, Farce and Theatre Comedy, Theatre and Phenomenology and Cross Media Collaboration. I am an advocate for, and embed into my teaching, the methods and principles of practice-as-research and like to bring together my academic training with my professional experience as a director and applied theatre practitioner.

Current research activities

My professional background as a theatre director specialising in theatre in-the-round is a driving force behind my research  and, in 2021, my monograph, Theatre-in-the-Round: A 360 Degree Guide to its Context, Philosophy and Practice is due to be published by Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury).

In my role as Performance Director of the independent, Paris-based, international educational, cultural & humanitarian non-profit organization, Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow (YTT), I have created a performance methodology which deploys an updated and unique interpretation of Augusto Boal's Image Theatre technique in order to enable embodied and interactive responses by members of the public to drawings created by refugees. Performances and workshops have taken place in Venice (as part of the 57th Biennale di Venezia), Rome, Paris, Berlin, Sarajevo and Sheffield as well as a variety of seconiary schools in South Yorkshire. A twenty minute video documenting this research methodology was part of Bryan McCormack's installation, Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow Traceability is Credibility at the Fondazione Cini for the 47th Biennale di Venezia. Research outputs in relation to this work are both performance based and written.  Since 2019 I have been developing this anti-discriminatory practice with Head of Human Rights at Sheffield Hallam, Dr Sunita Toor's as part of a collaboration with her Justice For Her project. This work brings together the YTT Performance Methodology with police training and prevention in relation to Gender Based Violence in India. Shortly prior to the global lockdown of 2020, I was due to co-deliver training residencies at the Madhya Pradesh Police Academy with Toor and McCormack as well as running performance workshops in secondary schools and as well as the survivors of gender based violence in the Bhopal area.


Finally, my research and teaching in relation to de-centred, inter-cultural and digital Shakespeare pedagogies has resulted in practice-as-research in a variety of partnerships with University of Cyprus, Othello's Island Conference (Nicosia, Cyprus) and Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa. My interest in the later's #lockdownShakespeare project is being developed into a research network through my position as a Research Associate of Tsikinya-Chaka Research Centre (Wits University, South Africa). Further to this, I was the guest editor of a themed issue (25:1) of the Journal for Research in Drama Education, titled Teaching Shakespeare: Digital Processes.

Current teaching activities and interests

I currently teach Practice: Text Based (synthesis of Early Modern performance technique and Stanislavskian actor training), Cross Media Collaboration (digital, site based audio project delivery) and Culture and Society (an active analysis of theatre and performance comedy).

I have previously taught modules in Applied Theatre, Theatre Making, Actor Training, Creative Industies Employability, Playwriting and Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre, Theatre-in-Round as well as dissertation and Practice-as-Research supervision.

Desired research direction

I am looking to expand and extend inter-cultural and multi-lingual digital Shakespeare pedagogy and performance research to create a network of theatre makers, teachers and researchers. This hub is particularly focussed on critical conversations between residents of nations with colonial linguistic histories in relation to the English language.

I am interested in using my research profile to platform and investigate contemporary female playwrights and theatre makers from a practice-based perspective - particuarly the work of Laura Wade and the theatre company Utopia.

My on-going role as Performance Director of yesterday/today/tomorrow involves myself seeking collaborations with organisations interested in applying creative anti-discrimination practice.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

External Examiner: BA Acting and Stage Combat, University of Essex

1 Oct 20191 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • NX Arts in general
  • Digital Shakespeare
  • Theatre in-the-round
  • Actor Training
  • Theatre Directing
  • Farce
  • Comedy
  • Applied Theatre
  • August Boal
  • Theatre
  • Inter cultural Shakespeare
  • Anti-Discrimination

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