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Jane Arnfield

Associate Professor

Department: Arts


ADSS J Arnfield Facultystaff 255Jane Arnfield was born in Stockport and trained at Dartington College of Arts graduating with a BA (Hons) in Theatre; she has been a theatre practitioner for the past twenty four years.

As a performer, examples of Jane’s work include Northern Stage Ensemble under the direction of Alan Lyddiard and Erica Whyman. Method and Madness with Mike Alfreds and Shakespeare’s Globe London, New York where Jane played Imogen in Cymbeline opposite Mark Rylance.

As a member of the David Glass Ensemble Jane has worked as a performer and Project Leader on the Lost Child Project in South East Asia, South America and Europe. Leading projects with partners British Council, British Embassy and world leading NGOs Mith Samlanh, Save the Children and World Vision.

The theme of her three solo performance pieces since 2003 have been to investigate the form of biographical and auto biographical theatre. Collecting data of survival mechanisms deployed by human beings in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. Jane has been working on the adaptation and performance of The Tin Ring with Mike Alfreds since 2010.

2003 Geneva, collaboration with Quarantine directed by Richard Gregory, was researched at Everest base camp and Pheriche Hospital with climbers and medical staff. Jane’s research explored the effects of high altitude on the body and the extreme conditions individuals endure in order to climb mountains.

2008 The Gymnast researched the Cambodian genocide through testimonials from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC- Cam) archives. Directed by the late Nigel Charnock and produced by Empty Space the performance played the Edinburgh Festival in 2008 and was selected for the MI Singapore Arts Festival 2010.

2010 The Tin Ring by Zdenka Fantlová, originated and adapted from the book by Mike Alfreds and Jane Arnfield, performed by Jane Arnfield and produced by Human Remain. Zdenka Fantlová is one of a handful of Holocaust survivors still alive today. This is her story, born in Czechoslovakia Zdenka was 17 when the war began and the ring of the title was given to her by Arno her first love.  Zdenka kept it with her as a symbol of truth and hope from Terezin to Bergen Belsen. 

Jane was the Artistic Director for Newcastle upon Tyne’s Holocaust Memorial Event 2010/11. Jane is currently an Associate Artist with the Cambodian Documentation Centre (DC-Cam) and member of the Sleuk Rith museum team in Phnom Penh under the direction of Youk Chhang.

Jane is also an Associate Artist at Summerhall Edinburgh

  • Professional Actor, Director and Facilitator for over 24 years working in theatres nationally and internationally
  • Creation of her own company, Human Remain, in 2012 to promote her individual research
  • Development of highly acclaimed production The Tin Ring in 2009 which is currently touring nationally and internationally
  • Sell out run of The Tin Ring at 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • Development of The Tin Ring website  
  • Achieved with The Tin Ring national press, radio and TV coverage features on BBC TV and BBC Radio including Woman's Hour and The Culture show on BBC4
  • Interviews and extensive articles in The Times, Guardian and Observer plus extensive regional, national and international press coverage of the performance and the impact of the research on the public and academic sector

Arnfield is an Actor, Director, Facilitator, Writer uncovering synergies between (auto) biographical theatre practice and ethnographic and archival study in the social sciences and humanities.

Arnfield transforms (auto)biographical narratives (including that inscribed-on objects) into choral, ensemble and solo performances, staging these at sites of cultural significance on or around days of civic remembrance.


  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Suitcase of Survival: Performance, Biography and Intercultural Education: Unlocking the Past – Collaborative Learning Through Witness Testimony & Performance, Enabling Communities & Individuals to Engage with Intercultural Learning & Teaching, Arnfield, J. 24 Aug 2017, Going Performative In Intercultural Education , Bristol, Multilingual Matters
  • Adapting Testimonies of Survivors of Mass Atrocity Crimes for Performance: A Law and Drama Approach, Fijalkowski, A., Arnfield, J. 29 Jun 2021
  • Six Researchers in Search of A Meaning In Lockdown: A Collective Essay (RN03), Nurse, L., O'Neill, M., Arnfield, J., Epp, A., Sidiropulu-Janků, K., Waniek, K. 2 Jun 2020

Alice Potter Just Being – A feminist perspective of the transformational experience of Demidov's Organic Acting Technique. Start Date: 01/10/2019

  • Arnfield’s research projects are practice-led exploring how historical biographical information and narratives can be transferred into performative action engaging the spectator by blending memories; their own and others reframing the past in the present. Arnfield has worked extensively in the field of (Auto) Biographical Theatre. Arnfield’s research seeks to investigate memory discourses and the rendering of memory, which refuses complete immersion into a supposedly past moment. Supporting the action of public commemoration by enabling the participant to remember the past filtered through the present is at the core of the work. Arnfield is committed to developing interdisciplinary research and specialises in the creation of monodramas and choral works based on testimony. Arnfield works with ensembles to combine performance with oral history and biographical research that serves both the arts and social justice in the process, enabling lost or silent voices within archives, community groups, individual testimony to be reheard and re-experienced by all who are willing to listen.


  • Arnfield’s research disrupts and pushes the boundaries of contemporary (auto) biographical theatre practice through an interdisciplinary questioning of its role and function in memory studies, biographical narrative interviewing methods, performance and testimony.


  • Arnfield has developed a distinct practice called (LMTM) Living Memorial Theatre Methodology (2018), forensically examining the similarities, differences between creating (auto) biographical theatre and Biographical Narrative Interviewing Methods (BNIM) Sociology. The use of the word ‘surrogate’ is key in LMTM rerouting ownership, facilitating a ‘deputising’ to act, or bear witness for another. LMTM initiates a cyclical process: Host (BNIM) to first surrogate (Actors/Director), to second surrogate (Spectator), to new Host (Witness).


  • Arnfield transfers, transforms (auto) biographical narrative text into choral, ensemble, solo performance. Arnfield’s expertise produces performances sourced from oral history linked to or situated on sites of cultural significance, performed on or around days of civic remembrance. LMTM places performance methods (theatre) and biographical methods (sociology) in parallel, delivering purposeful knowledge through performed biographical research, serving both the arts and social justice in the process.


  • Projects include commissions by international, cultural organisations, Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre, Lodz, Poland, Defiant Requiem Foundation, Washington DC, USA. Arnfield tests methods of participatory engagement adapting material from memoir, fiction, non-fiction, diaries, letters, objects into performances.


  • As a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellow (2018/19) at the University of Lodz Centre for Biographical Research and Oral History in Poland, Arnfield developed her LMTM on hidden sites of cultural significance. Reconstructing sourced material into contemporary transcripts, play scripts, librettos, musical compositions, choreographed sequences. LMTM cultivates a process of de-centring, of viewing events from the perspective of others, not in a purely cognitive sense but at a more holistic, emotional level enabling audiences to ‘inhabit’ the original testimony.

  • Drama BA (Hons) September 01 1988
  • Full Member Equity 1988

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