Alison Jeffers

Alison Jeffers

Dr., Dr

  • Lecturer in Applied Theatre, Drama

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


Alison Jeffers is a Lecturer in Applied Theatre and Contemporary Performance at the University of Manchester where she has worked since 2009. She teaches on BA (Hons) Drama courses and supervises a number of PhD students. She was Vice Chair on the Executive Committee of SCUDD, the national body for teaching and learning in Drama and has played a strong role in developing The Association for Research in Performance and Theatre (TaPRA) through membership of that Executive. Alison taught for many years in further education and in a conservatoire setting before moving into teaching and research at Manchester. The move into a research career was enabled by the award of an AHRC studentship through the In Place of War project where Alison researched and wrote a PhD on refugee theatre and performance in the UK. This was subsequently published as a monograph by Palgrave Macmillan under the title Refugees, Theatre and Crisis: performing global identities in 2011 and was awarded the TaPRA prize for promising research by an early career researcher in 2012.



Research interests

Alison Jeffers's research interests include: cultural democracy; applied theatre practice and research methodologies; participatory theatre with marginalised groups; community arts history and practice; performances of citizenship and belonging. Her practical interests include storytelling and adaptation in performance, site specific practices, solo and autobiographical performance. Between 2005 and 2010 she undertook drama work with refugees and asylum seekers who are survivors of torture at Freedom from Torture in Manchester. Her most recent research concerns historical and contemporary understandings of cultural democracy seen through the lens of the British Community Arts Movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Research involved interviewing artists active in the early years of the movement, working in a number of private archives and uncovering a wealth of material from that period. The results of that research can be seen in Culture Democracy and the Right to Make Art, a co-edited book with artist Gerri Moriarty, published by Bloomsbury Methuen in 2017. In 2018 this book was awarded Gold Open Access status, enabled through institutional funds from the University of Manchester.


Authored Books

Performing Global Identities: refugees, theatre and crisis, (2011) Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke (216pp.) 

Edited Books

Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: the British community arts movement (Co-edited with Gerri Moriarty) (2017) Bloomsbury Methuen Drama: London (263pp.)

Chapters in books

'Theatre, Migration and Activism. The work of good Chance Theatre' in Handbook on Theatre and Migration, Palgrave, Yana Meerzon and Stephen Wilmer (eds.) (p. 587-597)

'Museum Theatre, refugee artists, contingent identities and heritage' in Heritage Discourses in Europe: Responding to migration, mobility and cultural identities in the twenty-first century, ARC Humanties Press, Laia Colomer and Anna Cattalini (eds.)

‘Jurisdictional Spaces of Asylum – the potential of the empty gesture’ in Contemporary Research on Refugee Writing, Edinburgh University Press, Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge and Agnes Woolley (eds.) (p. 123-139)

‘Authority, Authorisation and Authorship: Participation in Community Plays in Belfast’ in Performance and Participation: Practices, Audiences, Politics, Helen Nicholson and Anna Harpin (eds.) Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, 2017 (p.209-229)

‘Collecting and Re-Collecting: the challenges and possibilities of developing a social archive in post-conflict Northern Ireland’ in Claire Cochrane and Jo Robinson (eds.) Theatre History an Historiography. Ethics, Evidence and Truth, Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, 2015 (p.147-162)

‘Civil Listening and Hospitable Stages: being an audience for participatory refugee theatre’ in Michael Balfour (ed.) Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters, Intellect: Bristol, 2013 (p.297-311) 

Looking for Esrafil: witnessing refugitive bodies in I've got something to show you in Chris Megson and Alison Forsythe (eds.)Get Real: Documentary theatre past, present and future, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. (p.91-106)

Performance in place of war in Hanne-Lovise Skartveit and Katherine Goodnow (eds.) Museums, New Media and Refugees. Forms and Issues of Participation. Oxford: Berghahn Books and Museum of London, 2009. (p.161-172) 

Publications: Papers in peer reviewed journals 

The Rough Edges: community, art and history RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance 15: 1 February 2010 (29-37) 

Dirty truth: personal narrative, victimhood and participatory theatre work with people seeking asylum Research in Drama Education (Special edition on Performance and Asylum: embodiment, ethics and community) 13: 2 June 2008 (217-223) 

Half-hearted promises or wrapping ourselves in the flag: two approaches to the pedagogy of citizenship Research in Drama Education 12: 3 November 2007 (355-371)





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 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, PhD Drama, The University of Manchester

… → 2008

Master of Arts, University of Leeds

… → 1992

Bachelor of Arts, English Literature and Language, The University of Manchester

… → 1984

Bachelor of Arts, Drama, The University of Manchester

… → 1983

External positions

External Examiner, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

1 Sept 201831 Dec 2031

Vice-Chair, Standing Conference of University Drama Departments

Jun 2016Jun 2019

External Examiner, Goldsmiths College (University of London)


Executive member, Theatre and Performance Research Association

Sept 2011Sept 2016

Areas of expertise

  • PR English literature
  • contemporary drama
  • 20th century drama
  • BH Aesthetics
  • aesthetics of participation
  • NX Arts in general
  • community arts
  • applied theatre

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


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