Simon Parry

Simon Parry

Dr, Dr

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Personal profile


I am a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Arts Management and Associate Director for Social Responsibility in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester.

I am interested in the way theatre and performance engage people with ideas and how the arts more broadly affect society. This is reflected in my research into collaborations between artists, communities and scientific experts. It also influences my teaching about drama in education, activist performance, arts management and contemporary performance practice.

A lot of my research has emerged from my experience of working with creative practitioners in a variety of contexts. I am currently working with Contact Theatre on their development of health and science programming. This work builds on my time as a board member of the theatre (2011-2018) helping to embed such themes within their work. I recently spent some time exploring the role of performance in developing understandings of dementia with Louise Wallwein, Jaydev Mistry, Manchester Camerata and Dr Helen Pusey. This resulted in the Dementia Voices project and the award-winning performance Hidden by Louise Wallwein. In the past I have worked on the role of theatre in science education with Theatre of Debate.

Before coming to Manchester, I worked at the charity The Wellcome Trust (2002-2009) where I developed a range of national and international programmes promoting public and community engagement with biomedical research. I have taught at Royal Holloway University of London and University of Klagenfurt (Austria) as well as managed and evaluated a number of arts and education projects across the UK and Europe. I have a BA in Modern Languages (Nottingham), MA in Text and Performance Studies (King’s College London / Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), and a PhD in Drama (Royal Holloway University of London).

Research interests

Simon’s research focusses on the aesthetics and politics of science and health in performance. This work ranges across science in contemporary theatre, experimental collaborations between scientists and performers, activist performance as a response to science, theatre in science education, and theatre as a context for engagement between communities, scientists and/or health professionals. He also has an interest in the arts in education and community engagement more broadly. His recent (2020) book Science in performance: theatre and the politics of engagement maps out some of this territory. Simon is now working on research with Contact theatre on producing health and science in the theatre.

Simon collaborated with colleagues in the School of Nursing (2015-2019) exploring how theatre and performance might offer new perspectives on mental health. This project involved collaborations with artists including Mad 'Ed Theatre, the vacuum cleaner, Manchester Camerata, Louise Wallwein and Jaydev Mistry.

In 2013-2015, Simon worked with Jenny Hughes on a project exploring the role of gesture in activist performance. This resulted in a blog, co-edited special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review, a website and a chapter in an edited collection on Citizen Media and Public Spaces.

Between 2002 and 2008, Simon promoted and supported a range of collaborations between scientists, education and artists. This work is documented in the Creative Encounters publication. 

I have supervised PhD projects in theatre and drama in education. I have current students studying dance in the art gallery, performance and biotherapy, audience development and socially engaged arts practice. I would welcome PhD proposals that explore: relationships between theatre, performance, science and health; theatre or drama in education; activist performance; and some aspects of arts management.   

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Board Member, Contact Theatre

Dec 2011Dec 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Creative Manchester
  • Global inequalities


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