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David Davis

Professor David Davis

Emeritus Professor of Drama in Education from Birmingham City University

Title of presentation and abstract: Who am I? Who can tell me who I am?

If education is about opening the doors for young people onto the whole of human culture, then drama in education is about enabling those young people to find out who they are; who they want to be; what ground they wish to stand on; what sort of human person they want to become.

They will inherit a world on the brink of ruin. What sort of drama can help them locate themselves without dictating who they should be? As they grow up they are socialised into a form of ideological blindness. What form of drama can give the gift of sight and insight?


David Davis retired in the year 2000 as Emeritus Professor of Drama in Education from Birmingham City University (formerly University of Central England) where he was the co-founder of and Director of the International Centre for Studies in Drama in Education and course leader for MA, MPhil and PhD studies in Drama in Education. He taught for 15 years as a drama teacher in secondary schools. Since his retirement he has taught extensively in Palestine and run many courses in Ireland, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bosnia Hercegovina, Norway, Serbia, USA, Malta and China. He has been awarded two lifetime achievement awards: The International 'Grozdanin Kikot' prize for the contribution to the development of drama education for the year 2000 and in 2012 by CAGDAS (Turkish Contemporary Drama Association) for contribution to creative drama in Turkey. In 2001 he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Turkish Drama in Education Association for 'Services to Turkish Drama in Education' and also in 2001 Honorary Life Membership of the National Association for the Teaching of Drama 'For services to UK drama teaching and work internationally'. His recent publications include:

2009 Editor and a 30,000 word introduction and notes to Student Edition of Saved by Edward Bond, London: Methuen;

2010 Gavin Bolton – The Selected Writings (Ed.), Trentham Books;

2011Geoff Gillham: Six Plays for TIE and Youth Theatre (Ed.), Trentham Books;

2014 Imagining the Real: Towards a New Theory of Drama in Education, Trentham Books at IOE Press (Translated into Arabic, Turkish and Chinese)

Carmel OSullivan

Professor Carmel O'Sullivan

Director of the Arts Education Research Group | Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

Title of presentation and abstract: "The fundamentals of the art form are the same": A critical analysis of the contribution of David Davis to the field of drama in education.

The field of drama in education has been fortunate to have counted such phenomenally inquiring minds as Dorothy Heathcote, Gavin Bolton, Cecily O'Neill and David Davis as among its pioneers. Whilst Heathcote, Bolton and O'Neill could be described as contributing to a rich pedagogical tradition in drama and theatre education, the contribution of Davis has undeniably been to praxis. A keen and critical observer of society, the political economy, and the relationship of the arts to the fundamentals of people's lives, Davis' work is action oriented. Inspired and informed by children, young people, teachers and artists, he keenly feels the impact of societal and political changes which increase powerlessness and support a culture which disempowers and alienates children and young people. Davis' work is an invitation to teachers, educators, children and young people to work through drama in a variety of different ways to resonate layers of meaning. He encourages us to 'break open concepts and take hold of them', through an artistic process where art doesn't provide a one-to-one correspondence, but gives us an appearance of how the world could be.

This presentation will critically examine the scholarship of David Davis and his contribution to drama in education, locating his relevance and the significance of his thinking in a neo-liberalised world. Highlighting his approach to drama and some of the key concepts which feature in his work, such as imbalances of power, resonance, alienation, the core components of drama, metaxis, engagement, scaffolding, values, ethics, student ownership, and choice, attention will be paid to Davis' faithful commitment throughout his life and professional career to the role of the arts in challenging 'the apparently normal' which has become corrupted and distorted in our world.

"We as educators have to be concerned with the changes that are taking place in our world. Live with the new, the fresh, instead of living in the past with the dead. We have to stop and think about what is going on around us. We are disempowering the young. What is the culture which produces such negative feelings in children? If we do nothing, we are complicit in producing alienated children; they are being pushed by society and by the system. Art helps children to see some meaning and coherence in their lives, and give them back power. We can feel that we overcome the alienation if we come together through drama. The arts can help us to get a sense of coherence and power through the artistic work we are doing. … 'Human' is the opposite to alienation. This has connections for us in the art world. The job of the arts is to overcome alienation and powerlessness in human society." (Davis, Lecture UCE, 1993).


Carmel O'Sullivan is the Director of the Arts Education Research Group (AERG) in Trinity College, Dublin. She organises an international Summer School in Drama and Theatre in Education each year (M.Ed.), and is a founding member of ADEI (the Association for Drama in Education in Ireland). She is involved in a number of funded research projects, currently in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), early childhood education, arts education, and creative work-readiness interventions for young unemployed adults who face significant barriers to entering the workplace. She has presented her research all over the world. She has particular interests in the areas of creativity and inclusivity in education, working with researchers, academics, practitioners and participants from the worlds of academia, teacher education, health professionals, business, and community. Carmel is very active in her local community and has continued to work with children and young people throughout her professional career.

Chris Cooper

Freelance drama and theatre consultant and founding member of the NGO Jian Xue (See and Learn) in China.

Title of presentation and abstract: The drama of theatre in education.

TiE is a radical theatre form which enables young people and children to make meaning of the world they inhabit and the future they can shape. This requires the dramatisation of both self and society that creates an event on both the stage and in the participants. This presentation will explore contemporary theatre in education and the importance of the socio-political in theatre for children and young people.


Chris Cooper has worked in TIE and educational theatre and drama since 1988, including 17 years as the Artistic Director of Big Brum Theatre in Education Company (1999-2015). In 2009 he became the consultant to Drama Rainbow, Beijing, and since January 2017, a founder member Jian Xue (See and Learn), which is an NGO in the field of educational theatre and drama in China. His work in Europe includes long-term collaborations in Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Greece, and Norway. He has been teaching on the Masters in Drama Education Summer School at Trinity College since 2009. He is the author of 35 plays for TiE, youth and community theatre.

Konstantinos Amoiropoulos

Konstantinos Amoiropoulos

Early years specialist and drama teacher.

Title of presentation and abstract: Approaching the real: Attempts in early years classrooms.

Frequently used stories in early years classrooms may offer different directions for approaching our modern reality through drama. Depending on a teacher's own social awareness these stories could be used for building a context where children can decide for themselves when to adapt to society and when not. But the very first step for developing this context is finding a relevant centre for our dramas. This presentation will explore these issues with reference to the early years sector.


Kostas Amoiropoulos is currently working as an early-years teacher in Greece and as the artistic director of the non-profit company 'Diadromes in Drama and Educational Praxis', in Athens, Greece. He studied Drama in Education with Prof David Davies (PhD in BCU and MA in UCE, Birmingham, UK). He also has degrees in Theatre Directing (PGDip, Royal Holloway University of London), BA in Early Years Education, BA in Primary Education (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) and a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies (Roehampton University, London). He provides workshops and seminars on drama for adults and children in Greece and teacher education facilitation workshops in many parts of the world. He also works periodically as a director for Theatre in Education programmes.

Adam Bethlenfalvy

Adam Bethlenfalvy

InSite Drama, Hungary, and Senior Lecturer at Károli Gáspár University, Budapest, Hungary

Title of presentation and abstract: Making it Real: On the Relationship of Living Through Drama and Theatre - 'Living Through Drama' is an approach to Drama in Education that has often been misunderstood or misrepresented as a version of children's dramatic play that has little to do with theatre. This presentation analyses examples from the work of Dorothy Heathcote, Gavin Bolton, Cecily O'Neill and David Davis to reflect on how theatre is present in their drama lessons. It also presents parts of an action research project aiming to integrate components of the playwright Edward Bond's work into Living Through Drama, and reflect on what new opportunities there are at re-kindling the connection between drama education and theatre.


Adam Bethlenfalvy is one of the founders of InSite Drama. He has worked in theatre in education companies as actor-teacher, director, facilitator in Hungary and Great Britain since 1998. He has taught in schools and universities, worked in teacher training and has led youth theatre groups. Adam also works in the youth and community department of the acclaimed Örkény Theatre, Budapest. He has been invited to direct performances of contemporary playwrights in Hungary and in the UK. Adam completed his PhD research at Birmingham City University on applying Edward Bond's work in Living Through Drama under the supervision of Prof David Davis.

Selen Korad Birkiye

Selen Korad Birkiye


Professional tribute: Dr Selen Korad Birkiye will offer a personal tribute to David Davis about his role as a mentor of drama in education in Turkey.

David Davis has been mentoring an NGO, Modern Drama Association which is at the heart of drama in education in Turkey for a long time. Not only critiquing and providing constructive insights on our perspectives in drama, but also teaching us how to deal with the most crucial problems of our country such as democracy, human rights, and hierarchy on social and individual levels. He shows us how to act as a mentor to our colleagues, students, and the young people, as well as challenging us to face our own values and beliefs. His mentoring is not only related to the professional aspects of drama in education but is felt also at a personal level. As his students, we are now carrying his fire of trusting the free will of individuals and opening alternative doors for them should they choose to enter in or not. Everyday in my country we question the loss of our democratic, social, political and individual rights. In order to build a future that we want, we must raise individuals who are critical and self-confident about their potential and their rights. My hope is that we can pass the fire of David to the new drama in education leaders and young people in Turkey.


Dr Selen Korad Birkiye was awarded her B.S. and M.S. from the Sociology Department in the Middle East Technical University in Turkey; her pedagogy certification from Yildiz Technical University; and her Ph.D. from Ankara University. She has been providing dramaturgy and theatre theory courses in several universities as an independent academician since 2004.

Selen began working in State Theatres in Turkey in 1990, and has been working as a dramaturg in Istanbul State Theatre since 2001, where she was an assistant artistic director between 2009-2014. She has worked on more than 30 plays as a dramaturg and assistant director. Working as a drama in education facilitator since 1994, she has written two books: Interculturality in Modern Theatre, and To Manage and Not To Manage, That’s The Question(A Guide For Performing Arts Management). Selen received two awards from national theatre juries in Turkey for her professional achievements.

Yuk-Lan Phoebe Chan

Senior Lecturer (Performing Arts Research), The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Title of presentation and abstract: Drama, Education and Society.

Once upon a time she was introduced to the notion of 'drama as a social change agent' in a summer school at Birmingham...

This presentation is a personal narrative of a drama educator who critically reflects upon her practices of using drama as social intervention for over 20 years. It is a story about how she tries to develop and pass on what she learned in the past from her teacher, in a drastically changing society of unknown future.


CHAN, Yuk-Lan Phoebe holds extensive experience in research, drama and education practices. She has collaborated with a wide range of organisations in creating stage works, performing, teaching, researching and running facilitator training. She has developed drama programmes for many NGOs, and for over a decade, worked in partnership with Oxfam in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau on Global Citizenship Education. Phoebe convened and taught Hong Kong's pioneering Master's programme in Applied Theatre and Drama Education, co-organised by Griffith University and Hong Kong Art School. Her recent publications include Drama Alive: Teaching English through Process Drama (co-authored with LAM, Yin Krissy, Hong Kong Art School, 2010), Exploring Poverty through Drama: The Use of Drama in Global Citizenship Education (Oxfam Hong Kong, 2012, Chinese book), and "Fluorescent Raincoat into Yellow Umbrella: Social Responsibility as Embodied Experience" (in Drama and Social Justice, Routledge, 2016).

Wasim Al Kurdi

Director, Educational research and Development Programme, A.M. Qattan Foundation, Palestine.

Title of presentation and abstract: Drama as a Context for Aesthetic Experience. An experimental approach with teachers in a DIE Summer School. This presentation will discuss my work with teachers in the Drama in Education Summer School in Palestine and Jordan. These teachers work in an extremely challenging environment, socially, politically and economically. Over the last 12 years, we have been influenced by the work of David Davis and others in the field of Drama in Education, and our teachers have found that working through drama has created an enjoyable and positive learning environment. In this presentation, I will examine different artistic forms within a learning journey through drama. As part of our work, we create portraits for the roles which transform to be masks to reveal the hidden opinions for the roles, and we create a site for a city, changing the architecture as we imagine it would be to meet the needs of the people. I will discuss the integration of different kinds of arts within drama work, the relation between hands, thoughts and imagination, and how we recreate the hidden words through masks and the oppressed site through recreation of the place.


Wasim Al Kurdi – Palestine, is a poet, writer and practitioner in the field of Drama in Education. He runs the position of the Director of the Educational Research and Development Programme/A.M. Qattan Foundation. He worked as the Managing Editor of Al-Kateb Magazine, and is currently the Chief Editor of Ru'a Tarbawiyya periodic educational magazine and a Referee at NATD Journal, published by the National Association for Teaching of Drama. He has four poetry collections. He also wrote four lyrical dance performances produced by Al-Funoun Dance Troupe and The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. He has several published studies and books in the field of Drama and Education such as "The Burst of Words", "Art Education in School Teaching", and "Men under the Sun: Presence and Absence of Text". He presented in several conferences including IDIERI (The International Drama in Education Research Institute Conference) in Singapore in 2015, Auckland 2018 and the NYU Forum on Educational Theatre in 2016. Some of his areas of research interest include human practice from artistic production to aesthetic perception and drama as a context for exploring knowledge and artistic inspiration.


Zeki Ozen

Title of presentation and abstract: Youth stake a claim on their future using drama.

This presentation will discuss the history of drama in education in Turkey, especially the early years of our association and how it changed the future education of the Turkish people. I will explore how it started with just a few young people, how it spread and changed from the 1980s until today through connecting with the work of Dorothy Heathcote, David Davis, John Somers and many others who contributed to this change process. I will consider how children and young people in Turkey stake a claim on their own future when they are engaged in drama in education.


Zeki Özen was born in 1980 in Samandağ, Hatay. He completed his primary, secondary and high school education in Ceyhan, Adana. In 1999, he was accepted to Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Elementary Education. He graduated from the same program in 2003. During his university education, he became interested in drama in education. He held various positions in the field of facilitation/training and social communities. Between 2004-2005, he worked as a volunteer worker in Mourne Grange Camphill Community with disabled people in an educational and living institution in Northern Ireland. In 2005, he completed the Drama Teaching Program run by the Turkish Contemporary Drama Association. Between 2005-2011, Zeki was a student at Ankara University Institute of Educational Sciences Creative Drama Master's Program. During the same years, he was a board member at the Turkish Contemporary Drama Association. He worked as a drama teacher at TED Ankara College between 2005-2006 and at Ankara University Development Foundation Private Schools during 2006-2010. Since 2010, Zeki has been working in Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Elementary Education. In 2018, he completed his Ph.D. study at Ankara University, Institute of Educational Sciences, Department of Fine Arts Education. He still continues to carry out studies as a research assistant at Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Elementary Education.

Guy Williams

Guy Peter Williams

NATD (National Association for the Teaching of Drama, UK) Journal Committee

Title of presentation and abstract: Teaching ethically within the marketplace.

In his article for the most recent Issue of The Journal for Drama in Education, David Davis quoted from Berger's 2008 Hold everything dear: dispatches on survival and resistance:

…it is not only animal and plant species which are being destroyed or made extinct today, but also set after set of our human priorities. The latter are systematically sprayed not with pesticides, but with ethicides – agents that kill ethics and therefore any notion of history and justice. …And the ethicides are sprayed day and night by the mass news media.

The article was entitled, 'Acts of Resistance'. In fact, the whole Issue, at David's prompting shared the title, as all those who cared about NATD anticipated that this would be our final publication. The Association, along with all teachers in England and Wales and particularly teachers of the Arts are being sprayed daily with those ethicides whether they are aware of it or not.

Ever since the Education Reform Act of the late 1980s, we have been teaching within a culture defined by the market forces of the neo-liberal agenda. David has been the driving force and the intellectual analyst of resistance for NATD. The experiences of the Association and my own as both a member and a teacher describe the nature of the socio-political context and the struggle that continues to this day.

How do I as an individual teacher, now working in a Pupil Referral Unit, and as a member of NATD continue to teach ethically whilst being marginalised? The attack comes in many forms: the Association is withering, our pedagogy is being denigrated and then ignored, and I was driven from my workplace.

The fight continues.


I qualified as a Special Needs teacher in 1982 with a degree in Cultural Studies. I fell into teaching Drama in 1983 when the school burned down and we needed to find activities for the kids to do while classrooms were delivered! I discovered Gavin Bolton and Dorothy Heathcote in 1984 when I read 'Towards a Theory of Drama in Education'. I encountered David Davis' work in 1987 when we employed one of his PGCE students, Gill Brooks. I joined NATD in 1988. I studied full time for David's MA in 1991 - realising I needed to have my brain relocated by him. On David's prompting, I was Chair of NATD from 1997 to 2003 and have been on the Journal Committee from 2004 to the present. Having taught mainstream Drama from 1983 until 2016, I now work in a Pupil Referral Unit in Brighton.

Li Yingning

Li Yingning

Professor Li Yingning, playwright, drama educator.

Professor Li Yingning will offer a personal tribute to congratulate David Davis on his life-time achievement and his lifelong fight for what he believes in, which influences what many teachers and drama and theatre practitioners believe in all corners of the world.


Professor Li Yingning, playwright, drama educator. Board member of Jian Xue International Education and Culture Institute. Artistic director to Li Yingning Drama Studio & Youth theatre. Visiting professor of Shanghai Theatre Academy and China University of Communication in Nanjing.

Since 1995 Li Yingning has been introducing drama in education to China's universities and communities and founded Tao Ye Theatre in Education, which is one of the earliest TiE companies in mainland China. She has created a series of courses in Shanghai Theatre Academy for educational drama and theatre. She remains an important advocate of drama education and young people's theatre in the Chinese speaking world after her retirement.

Cao Xi

Cao Xi

Creative director, Drama Rainbow Education Centre, Beijing, China Executive director, Jian Xue International Education & Culture Institute, China.

Title of presentation and abstract: 'I disagree'—live through again, and again.

The Examination is a youth theatre project set in non-specific time in China that creates a situation where children between the ages of 7-10 can learn and develop during the performance. The rehearsal process has been structured as a series of living through drama episodes, leading to half scripted and half improvised theatre. The presentation will focus on one moment in the play where children are in role as the students being bullied by a senior student. Exploring the moment, children in role strongly disagreed with the decision the bully forced them to accept, yet in performance they expressed the content rather differently. The presentation will deconstruct the moment in order to discuss the power of metaxis when in role in relation to understanding the art form of drama through enactment. The presentation will also seek to open up discussion about the potential to develop processes that combine the use of theatre within a drama context through enacting, and whether children can live through a moment more than once.


Cao Xi is a writer, director and a drama teacher. Previously trained as a playwright, he spent the last ten years developing a radical form of political drama and theatre for young people in mainland China. He has directed all 7 Theatre in Education (TiE) programmes with Drama Rainbow, a pioneer organisation which was the first to practice drama and theatre in education for young people aged 3-12 in mainland China. In addition, Cao Xi has been developing weekly drama sessions, training, youth theatre, community civic activities and consultancy to universities and policy makers. He has been directing the summer school for Jian Xue International Education & Culture Institute, which since 2012 has trained more than 2,000 drama teachers who work in more than 18 provinces, alongside the renowned figure Madam Li Yingning. He has also translated David Davis' book Imagining the Real, and several of Edward Bond's plays and theories into Mandarin. He recently received a visiting professor post at the Communication University of China in Nanjing.

Estella Wong

Associate Dean, Head of Academic Studies and Applied Theatre | The School of Drama | Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Title of presentation and abstract: 'Society versus society: Who says what and what is expected?'.

Stepping into its 11th year, the MFA in Drama and Theatre Education major in HK has been a base for experimentation and exploration of drama education philosophies and practice, deeply rooted in the teaching of David Davis, Gavin Bolton and Dorothy Heathcote. In the past decade, the masters students initiated numerous drama education projects to enhance their target participants (including primary, secondary students, students with SEN, young immigrants, youth at risk, etc.) to reflect on themselves, others and the society they live in. This presentation will explore the experiences of these drama educators, school teachers, social workers and theatre practitioners, and how they see the potential of using drama with young people in this complicated, delicate city and what it means for them.


Founder and discipline leader of the MFA Drama and Theatre Education major in the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts since 2008, Estella Wong is currently the Associate Dean and Head of Applied Theatre in the Academy's School of Drama. A graduate from the Northcote College of Education, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the University of Central England, Estella obtained the Registered Teacher's qualification, Bachelor of Fine Arts (hons) in Drama, and the Master of Arts (Drama-in-Education) respectively. After graduation, Estella worked for two renowned professional theatre companies specializing in educational drama - Prospects Theatre Company and Chung Ying Theatre Company as the Head of Theatre Education Department, where she planned, organized and implemented more than 100 DiE and TiE projects. Estella has written the book Applying Theatre published by the International Association of Theatre Critics Hong Kong (IATC) in 2011 (second print 2017), co-translated Gavin Bolton: Essential Writings (edited by Prof. David Davis) into Chinese in 2014, Dramawise (Haseman & O'Toole) into Chinese in 2005, and co-edited Risks and Opportunities- the tension in Hong Kong Drama Education Development published by IATC in 2007. Estella is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Pants Production, Hong Kong Teachers Drama Association, and Arts with the Disabled Association Hong Kong.