For my undergraduate degree I studied English and Drama and was awarded a first-class degree with honours from Lancaster University in 1995. On this degree I took core English modules in Victorian Writing, Renaissance Writing, Writing 1880-1940 and Contemporary Writing and took specialist modules in the Skills and Practice of Creative Writing. For the Drama elements of the degree, I chose to take modules exploring the theoretical and practical aspects of directing, producing and devising performance work. This included modules in Text & Performance, Popular Theatre and Theatre and Performance.
Upon graduation, I worked for 12 months as a Youth and Community Education Worker for Seabridge Community Education Centre in Staffordshire where I was employed as a workshop leader and a director in their youth theatre.
During the final year of my undergraduate degree and following graduation I began to have my poetry published in the poetry journal Staple and I applied for and accepted a place on the MA in Creative Writing at Bretton Hall. This master’s degree was examined via the production of a substantial portfolio of creative writing and critical essays. My creative portfolio focused on poetry and scriptwriting. In my critical writing I examined concepts of truthfulness and narrative authority in the poetry of Carol Anne Duffy and interrogated the role of the writer as autobiographical researcher.
Whilst studying for my MA at Bretton Hall I was placed third in the Northern New Writing Awards for Poetry (1997), became a member of the Pennine Poets, and was invited to be the assistant editor of the Pennine Platform. Shortly after completing my master’s degree a selection of my poems was published by Fighting Cock Press as part of an anthology of new poetry entitled Ho! Rumplestiltskin (1998).
In 1998 I applied for and was awarded a student bursary from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at St. Martin’s College, Lancaster to study for a practice-based PhD. In my PhD, Sculpting in Ice: Writing for the Postmodern Stage, I argue that from within a postmodern framework the ‘realist narrative mode’ finds its position as the narratological form of choice for communicating historical and biographical ‘truth’ under question. Furthermore, as the formal distinctions between ‘fictional’ and ‘factual’ writing become less clear, I propose that the writer’s approach to their craft must also be redefined. Under such conditions I argue that each individual text defines and legitimises its own particular terms of reference and narrative form. The act of writing within a postmodern framework, therefore, is not only a craft, but also a philosophical activity and as such requires the writer to enter the world of theoretical fiction.
In 1998, whilst studying for my PhD at St. Martin’s, I began lecturing on a part-time basis on their undergraduate Drama, English, and Creative Writing programmes. In 2003 I became a Lecturer at St. Martin’s on a full-time permanent basis. In 2007, I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the newly formed, University of Cumbria, and since 2016 I have worked as a Programme Leader on their Drama, Acting and Theatre and Performance degrees. In 2022 I took up a new position at the University working in the Centre for Arts and Participation.
Between 1998 and 2018 I taught primarily on the BA (Hons.) Drama degree in Lancaster. As the module leader for units in, technical theatre, acting skills, directing, production, and applied drama. My primary responsibility was to teach, supervise and direct devised and scripted theatre.
Whilst teaching on the Drama degree in Lancaster I supervised 17 full length public productions 11 of which were final year productions, rehearsed on campus and then toured into a professional venue, The Dukes Theatre, in Lancaster. In addition to these supervisions, I directed a further 10 full-length, undergraduate public performances.
Whilst working on the Lancaster campus I set up a graduate theatre company which allowed me to work with young actors outside of the undergraduate degree. This company permitted me to pursue a directing repertoire more aligned to my research interests and also gave young actors the opportunity to gain greater public performance experience. Under the banner of my graduate company, I directed a further 14 full-length public performances and one short film.
In addition to working on the Drama degree in Lancaster, I was the module leader for the scriptwriting modules on the Creative Writing degree, was a guest lecturer on the English degree, and collaborated with the Fine Art department to write and validate a degree in New Media Arts. In 2015 I was nominated by my students in the UCSU Success Awards for Lecturer of the Year (Education, Arts & Business)
In 2018 I moved to the Brampton Road campus in Carlisle where I was the Programme Leader for the BA (Hons.) Acting and BA (Hons.) Theatre and Performance degrees whilst also leading modules on the Performing Arts, Musical Theatre and Dance undergraduate degrees. Whist working on the Brampton Road campus I have also taught on and supervised work for the MA in Directing, taught on the BA (Hons.) Creative Writing degree, taught on Institute of the Arts common modules, sat as the subject specialist on a PhD upgrade panel, and worked as part of a PhD supervisory team.
Over the course of my career, I have become increasingly interested in stage photography, and I have been documenting my own work, and the performance and production work of others, in this format, since 2003. Since 2007 I have also worked as a freelance headshot and portrait photographer.
In December 2015 and January 2016, a collection of my stage photography was exhibited publicly in an exhibition entitled Under the Lights, An Exhibition of Stage Photography, which was hosted in the gallery space at The Dukes Theatre, in Lancaster. Rehearsal photos from my 2005 production of Anthony Neilson’s Stitching were also published in M’Hemmx Bzonn Siparju a book of theatre criticism published by the Malta Drama Centre in 2012.
Following the formation of the Institute of Education, Arts and Society in 2023, I have moved back to the Lancaster campus and currently work in the Centre for Arts and Participation.
Qualifications and memberships
(2006) PhD Sculpting in Ice: Writing for the Postmodern Stage, Lancaster University, St. Martin’s College.
(1997) MA Creative Writing, University of Leeds, Bretton Hall College.
(1995) BA (Hons.) English with Drama, Lancaster University, St. Martin’s College.
Academic Staff Representative to Academic Board for the Institute of Arts (2020-2023).
Institute Representative to the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments.
Member of the University of Cumbria Research Ethics Panel.
Academic and research interests
My current research centres on developing creative responses to lived experiences in a range of media (live performance, film, VR, audio, and photography) using verbatim theatre techniques. I am currently working on a project entitled, The Many Faces of Modern Fatherhood, which explores changing attitudes to fatherhood through the lived experiences of dads living in North-Lancashire and Cumbria in the 2020’s. I have recently completed writing a shot VR film for the Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Project, raising awareness of modern slavery and short film for Cumbria Police, addressing the issue of consent.
My primary research interests are:
- Developing creative responses that explore issues within, and arising from, contemporary attitudes towards masculine identity and fatherhood.
- Devising theatre and using verbatim theatre techniques and collaborative practice to explore the lived experiences of participants and the issues arising from those experiences.
- Narrative psychology and the benefits of autobiographical storytelling (writing and performing) as a means of articulating, understanding, and creating identity.
- Writing for the stage; using post-dramatic techniques and post-modern theory to explore the relationship between the subjective and objective experience, particularly in the realm of autobiographical, biographical and historical fiction.
- ‘In-Yer-Face’ Theatre; especially depictions of masculinity in the works of Anthony Neilson.
I also have research interests in:
- Stage & theatre photography; documenting performance and portraiture.
- Directing for the Stage; contemporary British drama).
- Actor Training; performing Naturalism and Psychological Realism, Meisner technique and Practical Aesthetics.
KEYWORDS: Masculinity, Fatherhood, Writing, Devising, Directing, Post-dramatic, Postmodernism, Autobiography, Biography, Historiographic Meta-Fiction, ‘In-Yer-Face’ Theatre, Contemporary Drama, Verbatim Theatre, Narrative Psychology, Stage Photography, Theatre Photography.
- Member of PhD supervisory team.
- Subject specialist (Theatre and Performance) on a PhD upgrade panel.
- Feb 2023 Wrote Sofia, Short VR Film for the Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Project (A short educational VR film shot in 360° to raise awareness of modern slavery, commissioned by the Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Project).
- Jan 2022 Wrote Party, Short Film for Cumbria Police (A short educational film for young people exploring the issue of consent, commissioned by Cumbria Police).
- Dec 2021 Wrote Mild Peril (…and some language) The Stanwix Theatre, Carlisle (A performance emerging from a collaborative research project exploring the experiences and effects of social media on young people aged 18-25).
- May 2020 Wrote & Directed Lockdown, Short Film / Monologue. (A short film, written and filmed during lockdown exploring men’s mental health. Written and filmed for Men's Mental Health Awareness Month).
- May 2019 Directed Mike Bartlett’s Contractions, The Stanwix Theatre, Carlisle
- May 2018 Directed Martin Crimp’s Attempts on Her Life, The Stanwix Theatre, Carlisle
- March 2018 Directed Mike Bartlett’s Contractions, The Black Box Studio Theatre, Lancaster / Morecambe Fringe Festival & Manchester Fringe Festival.
- May 2017 Directed Peter Morris’ The Age of Consent, The Stanwix Theatre, Carlisle
- March 2016 Directed Mike Bartlett’s Cock, The Black Box Studio Theatre, Lancaster.
- April 2015 Directed David Harrower’s Blackbird, The Black Box Studio Theatre, Lancaster.
- December 2015 - January 2016 Under the Lights, An Exhibition of Stage Photography, The Dukes Gallery, Lancaster.
Recent external roles
External Examiner: The Arden School of Theatre, Manchester (Sheffield Hallam University) 2019-2023