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Dr Kay Hepplewhite

Senior Lecturer

Department: Arts

Research includes investigating the expertise of applied theatre practitioners who work in participatory and community contexts. A participatory research method of reflective dialogues utilises video recordings to support reflective conversation with artists about the detailed in-action decisions made within the practice. In the reflective dialogues, practitioners debate the detail of their work within a context of wider philosophies and aims for the work.

A recent research collaboration involved working with Graeae Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey on an international collaboration for performance of In Touch at National Theatre's Dorfman venue, 2017. (See chapter in Sealey, J. 2018 Reasons to Be Graeae, London: Oberon Books)

Kay co-convened the industry/research collaboration symposium, Future of Fringe in Newcastle/Gateshead, at Northumbria University, February 2015

Kay has supported student research projects, including Out of Her System, a verbatim performance about girls and education selected for GiFTed (Gateshead International Festival of Theatre). She directed Abraham and Isaac for York Mystery Cycle of plays, which tour the city streets on wagons.

Before joining Northumbria University October 2013, Kay was a Senior Lecturer at York St John University for BA Theatre and MA Applied Theatre. There, she was a CETL Research Fellow with the C4C Collaborating for Creativity project and established Alchemists at Work, a forum for exchange between researchers, artists and scholars in applied theatre.

Kay has directed youth performance commissions for Sage Gateshead, Northern Stage, and Northern TUC Youth Forum. She worked as a performer, devisor and workshop leader in Community Theatre, Theatre in Education and in youth work settings before becoming a lecturer.

Kay is currently co-director of The Guild of Lillians production company.


  • Drama PhD September 01 2017
  • Theatre and Performance Practice MA January 01 2014
  • CertEd June 01 1992
  • Higher Education Academy Fellow, Reference PR055864 2013

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Encouraging selfishness in applied theatre students – surprises arising from a community project., Hepplewhite, K. 29 Mar 2019
  • How young artist/facilitators use their unsettled identity to develop creative ageing practice, Hepplewhite, K. Jan 2019, In: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
  • In their shoes: participation, social change and empathy in Open Clasp's 'Key Change', Hepplewhite, K. 19 Apr 2018, Applied Theatre, London, Bloomsbury
  • Responsivity in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise: Introducing Identifying Patterns and Names, Hepplewhite, K. 1 Mar 2017, In: ARTSPRAXIS
  • More than a Sum of Parts? Responsivity and Respond-ability in Applied Theatre Practitioner Expertise, Hepplewhite, K. 15 Sep 2016, Facilitation, London, Bloomsbury
  • The applied theatre practitioner as dialogic hero, Hepplewhite, K. 3 Apr 2015, In: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
  • Here's another nice mess: using video in reflective dialogue research method, Hepplewhite, K. 30 Sep 2014, In: Research in Drama Education: Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
  • Here's one I made earlier: dialogues on the construction of an applied theatre practitioner, Hepplewhite, K. 16 Apr 2013, In: Theatre, Dance and Performance Training

PGR Supervision

Rebecca Mather Start: 01/10/2019

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

PhD thesis

Hepplewhite, E. K. (2017) Opening the Space: Investigating responsivity in the expertise of applied theatre practitioners. University of Manchester.


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