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Dr Kay Hepplewhite

Assistant Professor

Department: Arts

Dr Kay Hepplewhite has been a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University since 2013 and is a Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy. She teaches in the subject area of theatre and performance at all levels, supervising PhD research to completion. She was a co-convenor of the Theatre and Performance Research Association, Applied and Social Theatre Working Group for several years. Her PhD was awarded from University of Manchester.

Her monograph The Applied Theatre Artist: Responsivity and Expertise in Practice was published by Palgrave 2020.  As a researcher of applied theatre, Hepplewhite makes connections between the contexts of academic research and theatre makers who engage with communities and participatory performance. Publication includes RiDE Journal of Applied Theatre, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, PRAXIS (NYU) and chapters in the Bloomsbury Applied Theatre edited book series. She is a regular peer reviewer for academic journals.

She has a background in performing and making theatre that responds to political and social issues. Recent creative collaborations include projects in community, health and education contexts including schools and care homes.

Kay Hepplewhite

My investigations of applied theatre and performance provide understanding and development of socially engaged practice through academic research with theatre companies and artists who operate in community, engaged, participatory practices. My outline of responsivity was created to articulate the expertise of applied practitioners, providing a vocabulary for their specialist blend of artistic, social and relational skills and qualities. I designed reflective dialogue research methods for collaborative, participatory analysis which share the values and objectives of the work. Concerns with co-creative collaborative practices are addressed with an investigation of applied theatre methods. Current research examines the nature and role of women in community theatres. My research aims to impact on practitioner development as well as applied theatre pedagogies. I co-convene a forum for participatory artist training.

I have a background in making theatre that responds to political issues and social contexts, as an actor and workshop leader in community and youth theatre and Theatre in Education. I have continued to work with community groups in creative collaborations and performances, including schools and care homes, Hancock Museum, York City Archive and Mystery Plays, and Equal Arts Creative Friends intergenerational exchange. A project with Graeae Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey explored UK/Russian co-production with D/deafblind actors In Touch at National Theatre's Dorfman venue.



  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Borders of the artist in applied theatres: This is what theatre can be, Hepplewhite, K. 1 Sep 2023, TaPRA Annual Conference 2023
  • Curious About Theatre: Finding the human connection in a digital learning project collaboration with Curious Monkey Theatre Company for applied theatre university students, Hepplewhite, K. 2022, In: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
  • In their shoes: participation, social change and empathy in Open Clasp's Key Change, Hepplewhite, K. 6 Feb 2020, Applied theatre, London, Bloomsbury
  • The Applied Theatre Artist: Responsivity and Expertise in Practice, Hepplewhite, (. 30 Jul 2020
  • Encouraging selfishness in applied theatre students – surprises arising from a community project., Hepplewhite, K. 29 Mar 2019
  • How young artist/facilitators use their unsettled identity to develop creative ageing practice, Hepplewhite, K. Jan 2019, In: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
  • ‘Acts of Translation: In Touch’ in Sealey, J. Reasons to Be Graeae London: Oberon Books., Hepplewhite, E. 1 Jan 2018, Reasons to Be Graeae , London, Oberon Books
  • Responsivity in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise: Introducing Identifying Patterns and Names, Hepplewhite, K. 1 Mar 2017, In: ARTSPRAXIS
  • More than a Sum of Parts? Responsivity and Respond-ability in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise, Hepplewhite, K. 15 Sep 2016, Facilitation, London, Bloomsbury
  • The applied theatre practitioner as dialogic hero, Hepplewhite, K. 3 Apr 2015, In: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance

  • Sarah Kemp Pushing the Boundaries: An exploration of the impact of actor training, based on the practices of Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux, on the creativity, health and wellbeing of older people Start Date: 01/06/2021 End Date: 25/11/2022
  • Rebecca Mather Singing-Stories of Seeking and Sanctuary: An interdisciplinary artistic investigation into co-creative singing-youth-theatre practice with communities whose membership includes young people seeking asylum, those with lived refugee experience or migration histories as well as their indigenous peers (RMIC). Start Date: 01/10/2019

  • Drama PhD September 01 2017
  • Theatre and Performance Practice MA January 01 2014
  • CertEd
  • Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy SFHEA 2021
  • Higher Education Academy Fellow, Reference PR055864 2009

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