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Ms Jane Arnfield

Associate Professor, Director of Fine & Visual Arts Programmes

Department: Arts

Jane Arnfield was born in Stockport and trained at Dartington College of Arts graduating with a BA (Hons) in Theatre.


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

0191 2273829


BA (Hons) Theatre, Dartington College of Arts, 1988

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Jane Arnfield specialises in sourcing first hand witness testimony and the transformation of this data into a theatrical landscape. She has specific research interests in abandonment and survival, resilience and risk taking, with a particular focus on genocide. Arnfield is extending her research of Theatre of the Real into new areas, investigating the impact performed host testimony imparts to both performer and spectator as surrogates, recipients of the original testimony.   

Sponsors and Collaborators

Arts Council England; British Council; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Freedom from Torture; The Forge; Summerhall Edinburgh

Current/Recent Projects

Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship - Towards an interdisciplinary conceptualisation of (auto)biographical theatre practice 

(Six months August 28th 2018 to February 28th 2019)

The proposed Fellowship will enable Jane to spend time in, and influence the research agendas of, the Institute of Sociology, University of Lodz, Poland. The proposed project builds on her ongoing practice-based research into the aesthetic and affective power of Theatre of the Real. The aims of this Fellowship are three-fold: firstly, to disrupt and push the boundaries of contemporary (auto)biographical theatre practice through an interdisciplinary questioning of its role and function; secondly, to explore and test out potential synergies between (auto)biographical theatre practice and ethnographic and archival study in the social sciences and humanities; and thirdly, to understand the contribution and role of witnessing and testimony in eliminating inequality and securing justice.


Arts Council England Award: £32,608 Individual Grants for the Arts - Project Name: Year of Wonders

(June 2018)

Please do click on the link:

Year of Wonders is a book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks who has gifted Arnfield sole 30-year rights to the adaptation for stage. Set in 1666 the book is rooted in documentary fact although written as a novel. An itinerant tailor brings the plague to a small Derbyshire village, fleas in a bolt of cloth. As the villagers die, one by one those who remain face a choice: do they flee in the hope of escaping the plague, or do they stay? The novel explores love & learning, fear & fanaticism, and the struggles of 17th century science & religion to interpret the world at the cusp of the modern era. Themes of civic mindedness, women’s rights & independence are at the core. There is an exploration around the ethics of quarantine and migration relevant to today’s fears around epidemics (such as Ebola) and their control. Ultimately, it is a story of ordinary people struggling to cope with extraordinary circumstances and making pragmatic decisions in the face of adversity.

This research will investigate the potential the novel and stage adaptation offers to explore how pandemic threats are managed and conceived – this is of course particularly relevant to the Ebola crisis. There are many directions that the project could follow in the future and great potential for cross disciplinary arts/science research situated in health and life sciences.

There will be a rigorous investigation on the impact of storytelling performance on an audience; examining how one biographical story can represent the many whilst serving as a document to raise interest in the authentic, historical narrative. Year of Wonders will be a continued exploration of solo performance (Practice as Research) for Arnfield whilst extending her relationship with The Lowry Salford where the play will premiere June 2018, before coming to the North East.


Keynote Presentations, Performances, Associated Lectures & Teaching The Tin Ring

May 2011 to June 2014

Washington USA Defiant Requiem Foundation invitation offered by Mark Rulison  Programme Director June 2014.

Lancaster House The Mall London Holocaust Memorial Task Force. A delegation of over 31 countries Chaired by Sir Andrew Burns of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Week May 12 2014.

Abu Dhabi UEA February 2014 - Presented by New York University invite of Professor Carol Martin to perform The Tin Ring with associated lecture presentations and workshops.

University of Essex January 30 2014

Jersey Arts Centre January 28 2014
Durham Cathedral January 27 2014

Wollongong University Dept of Humanities December 2013

India Mumbai Literature Festival British Council November 14 to 16 2013

Surrey University November 19 2013

New York University September 22 -27 2013

Salford The Lowry October 14 &15  2013

Oslo University Seminar Ethics of Memory & The House of Literature  performance of The Tin Ring Oslo plus Kristiansand for United Nations Norway and the Arkivett Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies Norway Oct 21 to 25 2013

The Documentation Centre Cambodia (DC-Cam) February, March & April 2013

Bergen 18th Nordic Conference for Therapists and Care Givers Working with Traumatised Refugees Norway Keynote Presentation April 2013

Czech Embassy British Czech & Slovak Association performance London May 2013

The Speakers House at House of Lords & House of Commons London performance and post performance discussion January 28 2013

Human Rights Society & Newcastle upon Tyne November 2012 performance
Freedom from Torture

Cafe Culture Urban Café  Dance City Newcastle upon Tyne UK: November 5 2012 Theatre of Witness Performance and talk

Newcastle upon Tyne UK: September 2012 - The Tin Ring Presented by The Literary & Philosophical Society, an independent library, six public sold- out performances and associated film screening and panel lead discussion After the Crisis: Marking Catastrophe chaired by Lord John Shipley at Tyneside Cinema. 

Lodz, Poland September 2012 - Presented by the European Sociological Association as part of the Conference: Biological Research: emotion, ethics and performative praxis at the University of Lodz.

Salford September 2012 - Presented in association with The Lowry, six public sold-out performances and panel lead discussion with key note speaker Prof Carol Martin After the Crisis: Who tells the story? 

Agder, Kristiansand, Norway June 2012 University of Agder and Stiftelsen Arkivet conference

Arkivet Centre for Historical Reflection and Peace Building as part of the Conference; After the Crisis: an interdisciplinary conference on narratives of traumatic events performance and post performance talk

Abu Dhabi, UAE  March 2012 - Presented by New York University at the invitation of Professor Carol Martin to perform The Tin Ring with associated lecture presentations and workshops

New York, USA  November 2011 - Presented by The Tisch School of Arts at the invitation of Professor Carol Martin to perform The Tin Ring research phase with associated lecture presentation and workshops.

Canterbury, Kent  October 2011-Presented by The University of Kent and panel lead post show discussion Aspects of Verbatim Performance featuring Richard Schechner, Carol Martin, Hans Thies Lehmann, Jane Arnfield and Mike Alfreds.

Kingston, Surrey,  July 2012 - Presented by Kingston University as part of the Conference Life Writing and Human Rights: Genres of Testimony. Kingston University London to present a Shift of The Tin Ring Work in Progress Life Writing and Human Rights: Genres of Testimony 11 July

Leeds, Yorkshire June 2011 - Presented by Transform, the first festival of work at The West Yorkshire Playhouse, to showcase new and developing work as part of a series of solo performances. Transform West Yorkshire Playhouse June 10 & 11 The Tin Ring Work in Progress two public performances, Storytelling Master Class delivery with Mike Alfreds, Symposium Biographical Theatre panel member with Lem Sissy

Utrecht, Netherlands May 2011 - Presented at the PSi Performance Studies International Annual Conference Camillo 2.0: Technology, Memory, Experience as part of an abstract shift In the theatre and through the theatre: performance, philosophy, and the remembrance of the Holocaust. PSi Camillo 2.0 Utrecht May 28 to present a Shift of The Tin Ring Work in Progress "A really extraordinary performer and performance piece" Richard Schechner May 2011

Newcastle upon Tyne May 2011 - Presented at Northern Stage as part of a creative residency to support and develop "work in progress" culminating in two presentations/performance shifts to an invited audience. Five Day Creative Residency Northern Stage The Tin Ring Work in Progress May 9-13 & two public performances with seven Performing Arts students observing the creative process

Stockholm Sweden Brainstorm Presentation selected keynote Presentation by British Council at IETM conference 'Whose Story is it Anyway?' April 17-24 2011 


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