Year in Review 2013-14 – Part 1

Trying to condense a whole year of Theatre at York St John into one blog post isn’t easy, so we’ve condensed it into three! In the next three posts we will document the innovative and diverse theatre practices taking place both on and off campus. We haven’t included everything but instead present a range of projects, events and achievements from the last academic year.

Part 1 – Staff Research & Practice

Dr. Claire Hind

photograph by Krys Fox
Skip Shirey photograph by Krys Fox

The International Symposium Infinite Record, Archive Memory, Performance was hosted by York St John University and welcomed Berlin Based Artist Arnold Dreyblatt, Performer Sxip Shirey, Composer Trevor Wishart and academic Astrid Schmetterling.  Faculty of Arts MA students were involved in the technical running of the symposium and MA student Emily Rowan presented a sound installation over the 3 days to international guests.

An exhibition and presentation of York St John staff members was curated by Dr. Claire Hind. Dr. Matthew Reason and Dr. Justin McKeown delivered papers and Nathan Walker premiered his work the Action Score Generator. The conference also saw a presentation of ‘Dream Yards’ a walking tour by Gary Winters and Claire Hind which included Theatre student Jess Chaney.

Claire Hind & Gary Winters - Dream Yards
Claire Hind & Gary Winters – Dream Yards

Dream Yards has also been touring the UK’s studio theatres, playfully delving into the hidden worlds and narratives connected to iconic figures and fictional characters. The work premiered at York Theatre Royal and will go to Theatre in the Mill Bradford later in the year. Theatre graduate Richard Wade worked on this touring show as the stage manager.

Dr. Nick Rowe

Nick’s project Converge, which forms relationships between YSJ and local mental health service providers, was shortlisted for Times Higher Excellence and Innovation in the Arts Award.

Dr. Eirini Nedekopolou

Eirini has recently completed a collaborative project with KMA as part of Yorkshire Innovation Fund and there is a research outcome linked to it. This is related to the conference paper ‘Performing Participation into the Open Air. KMA’s Congregation’, delivered at Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, May 2014.

Eirini has also delivered her research ‘Re-routing Intermedial Participation: (Anti) Social Generosity in Six Acts’, at the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), Re-Routing Performance Conference, Institut del Teatre, Barcelona, Spain, July 2013, and

Eirini Co-convened the TaPRA Performance and New Technologies, University of Glasgow, September 2013 with the theme of Embodied Engagement: Participatory and Immersive Performance.

Eirini is also contributing a chapter on participation, digital art and public sphere to a book she is co-editing – Performance & Phenomenology: Traditions and Transformations, Routledge 2015.  

Jules Dorey Richmond & David Richmond

Jules Dorey Richmond & David Richmond – Terrorists of the Heart

As part of the Cultures of Memory Symposium 2013 Jules and David co-authored a paper Talking back the Y(t)ears – on their collaborative Theatre of Witness series of works with WW2 veterans, witnesses and survivors, which David presented at Syracuse University London. They also performed their autobiographical duet terrorists of the heart a meditation on parenthood, ageing, grief and loss, as well as a political manifesto with some Morris dancing, which was shown at York St John’s Performing House. Jules also exhibited her Memory Drawings, which explored the relationship between the feelings of a memory, mark making and repetition.

Jules and David are currently working on The Personal Archive Project, which is a paper, exhibition and catalogue document of personal objects and narratives, which chart their embedded lives together, which will premier at the forth coming Cultures of Memory Symposium 2014.

Jules and David are working on a chapter for a book:  The Self in Performance: Autobiographical, Self-Revelatory, & Auto-Ethnographic forms of Therapeutic Theatre.  Co-Editors:  Susana Pendzik, Renee Emunah, David Johnson. To be published in 2015.

David Richmond exhibited his photographs at City Screen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, depicting his annual secular pilgrimage to Auschwitz and the subsequent work made with students on the Artist as Witness module.

Jules Dorey Richmond, along with Rachel Conlon conducted consultations with various local agencies and delivered a series of 12 taster workshops with 3 different groups in York: YACRO Women’s House; Changing Lives; and Blossoms at Life line, as part of On the Out – a project which places creativity at the centre of working with women on the fringes of the criminal justice system. Jules is currently working on a visual document of this project to be disseminated as part of the forthcoming I-CAN event at the Theatre Royal on narrative and criminal justice.

Professor Matthew Reason

Elusive Evidence – On 10th June Matthew Reason and Nick Rowe co-convened a symposium exploring how artists and researchers can document, measure and evaluate arts practice in social context. Ten invited speakers presented papers, along with staff from York St John University in theatre, fine art, music and dance.

International Centre for Arts and Narrative (ICAN) Run in collaboration between York St John University and York Theatre Royal, ICAN runs events, workshops and talks exploring narrative in and through the arts. This academic year ICAN ran four public talks on Narrative &… ( & food; & mental health; & adolescence; & alternative futures) and between January and July ran weekly workshops to schools, community and other groups. See

Storytelling and Adolescence – In September 2013, York St John University and York Theatre Royal received Arts and Humanities Research Council funding for a collaborative doctoral studentship on the theme of storytelling and adolescence. Cath Heinemeyer is now working on this project. You can visit Cath’s blog here

Nathan Walker

Nathan has presented his practice-led research in computer generated text and performance scores at Modular Form Symposium, Roehampton University, London and at TaPRA Performance and New Technologies, Royal Holloway, London. (forthcoming) This research discusses the context and history around his work the Action Score Generator which was presented at York St John as part of Infinite Record Conference, curated by Dr Claire Hind.

Nathan Walker by Marco Berardi
Nathan Walker by Marco Berardi

Nathan was commissioned to make a new large scale performance at Performance Space, London which resulted in new work NAPE a 6 hour durational install-action.

Nathan premiered the performance of a new play ‘SNECK STAIRS’ with artist Emma Bennett at York St John’s Performing House and also presented new writing at The Other Room, Manchester.

Rachel Conlon

Clean Break, Billy the Girl
Clean Break, Billy the Girl

Rachel launched The Prison Partnership Project in September 2013 and has provided theatre and fine arts students the opportunity to gain experience from working inside HMP Askham Grange. Clean Break’s play ‘Billy the Girl’ was performed at the launch and students and staff attended the performance in HMP Askham Grange. Run in collaboration with the nationally acclaimed theatre company Clean Break and HMP Askham Grange, the project was born out of the desire to provide a unique, creative partnership between education, the arts and the prison service. The project aims to give students the invaluable experience of working in the community and provides a real-world understanding of the impact of the arts within a criminal justice setting. The project aims to provide the women residents the opportunity to develop creative and life skills through the arts, in line with their resettlement plans approaching release into the community.

The partnership has just been awarded funding for the next year from the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioners Office to deliver three arts projects on a weekly basis in theatre, singing and fine art.

Rachel also secured funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Trust to deliver the ‘On the Out’ project with colleague Jules Dorey Richmond – working with women who have had an experience of the criminal justice system or who are in recovery and living in the wider York community. It had come to Rachel and Jules’ attention that there was no such provision in York for women post release to engage in an arts process. So following on from the arts delivery at HMP Askham Grange and after a wide consultation with service providers in York, the project began and has grown in strength working with the local organisations Changing Lives, Lifeline and YACRO.

Both projects offer the opportunity for two different kinds of communities to come together – university students and women, with the aim of participants coming together to engage in an arts process and gain understandings and encounters and to be part of a transformative learning experience that emphasises collaboration, dialogue and addresses issues of social concern.