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About Dr Shelley Piasecka

As a scholar and theatre director my publications and performance research outputs are connected in meaningful ways. I am interested in the intersections between theatre, government policy, the STEAM Agenda, and applied drama in educational settings, with a recent critical focus on Prevent and UK counter-terrorism strategies. My work this area was instrumental in the convening of an expert conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on the themes of youth radicalisation and terrorism and has been cited in European Government policy documents. My new research is looking at the use of participatory arts, specifically drama, to support refugee children fleeing war and violence.

Additionally, I am involved in the creative adaptation and direction of literary texts for the stage.


My teaching expertise lies in the creative adaptation of literary texts for the stage, directing for theatre, performance theory, applied theatre and play text analysis.  For many years I have taken students on residential visits to New York City and performance festivals in the United Kingdom and Europe.

I am programme leader for the MRes Arts and Media and Senior Postgraduate Research Tutor for the School of Arts and Media. I supervise PhD students in the areas of stage adaptation, professional wrestling, feminist theatre, collaborative song-writing, law and ethics in journalism, and applied drama and pedagogy.


Theatre: Practice as Research

2017-19 Adaptations: Moby Dick (Writer & Director)
Original stage adaptation and direction of the novel Moby Dick. The production was commissioned for the Cornerstone Arts Festival, Liverpool. This led to an invitation to discuss the adaptation at a public event at the British Library, London, organised by the Melville Society (USA) and Kings College, London. Subsequently, the project was restaged on a Tall Ship for the Liverpool River Festival in partnership with Tall Ship Zebu and MAST (Adventures in Sailing).

2018 Ada Nield Chew: Radical Suffragist (Writer & Director)
Original adaptation and direction of the letters of Ada Nield Chew, a British suffragist from Crewe who campaigned for the rights of female factory workers. The performance was commissioned for a Local Youth Engagement Project (LYE) and funded by HEFCE. This was a “pop-up protest performance” to mark the centenary of the Legal Assent of the Representation of the People’s Act. The performance premiered at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Cornerstone Arts Festival, and the People’s History Museum, Manchester.

2015-16 Flight to Arras (Director)
Director of a stage adaptation of the novel Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Commissioned for the International Cornerstone Festival, the production was selected for the High Fest International Performing Arts Festival, Yerevan, Armenia for the Memorial Programme to the Armenian Genocide. It was also performed at the Adaptations, Revision, Translation: From Life to Art, From Page to Stage and Screen Conference, Université Catholique de Lille, France (2016).

Other: Novel

Danni and the Lands of In-Between (2021): a fantasy novel for middle-grade readers. Currently seeking publication.

Published Work

Published Work

  • “The Furling of the Sails,” Leviathan”, A Journal of Melville Studies, Vol 22: 1, 183-185, 2020
  • “Performing PREVENT: anti-extremist theatre-in-education in the service of UK Counter Terrorism, a Freirean analysis”, Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol 12: 4, 715-734, 2019
  • “Culture, Politics and Drama Education: The Creative Agenda 1997-2015”, Drama Research: International journal of drama in education, Vol 7, 1: 2-19, 2016
  • “In the Thick of It: Proximities of Belonging in Drama Research”, Drama Research, International Journal of Drama Education, Vol 5, 1: 1-14, 2014
  • “Fishing in Puddles: Place and Space in Performance Research”, International Journal of Art & Design Education, Vol 33: 235–241, 2014
  • “Creativity, Live Art and the Primary School Curriculum”, Daniel Watt and Daniel Meyer-Dinkgrafe (Eds), Theatres of Thought: Theatre, Performance and Philosophy, 140-151, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2007

Conference Papers and Scholarly Events

  • Public lecture: “Chapter 22: Happy Christmas”, The Christmas Lectures, Storyhouse, 2019
  • Conference paper: “Ensemble and Multi-Role in Moby-Dick”, Melville’s Origins, 12th International Melville Society Conference, NYC, 2019
  • Invited guest speaker: “Witches on Stage”, Storyhouse, Chester, 2019
  • Expert contributor: Promoting Peace, Fighting Youth Radicalization, Fostering a Welcoming Europe,
  • European Parliament, Brussels, 2018
  • Conference paper: “Adapting the letters of Ada Nield Chew for the stage”, The Drama of the Suffrage Movement Conference, PHM, Manchester, 2018
  • TEDx: “The Role of Theatre-in-Education in Countering Youth Radicalisation”, 2018
  • Conference paper: “Theatre-in-Education in Countering Youth Radicalisation,” Celebrating Women’s
  • Research, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, UoC, 2018
  • Invited speaker: “UK Counter-Terrorism and the Prevent Duty Strategy,” SWC Labour Party Branch Meeting, 2018
  • Public lecture (and co-convener): “A Night Less Ordinary: The Christmas Pantomime”, The Christmas Lectures, Storyhouse, Chester, 2017
  • Invited delegate, Race, Racism and Xenophobia Conference, The European Parliament, Brussels, 2017
  • Co-Convener: Narratives and Alternative Stories Conference, UoC, 2017
  • Invited panelist: Looking for Melville, British Library, London, 2017
  • Invited delegate: Beyond Text, Vic, Barcelona, 2017
  • Conference paper “Adapting Moby Dick for the Stage”, Studies in 19th Century Literature, Keele University, 2017
  • Conference paper: “Theatre-in-Education and the Prevent Duty Strategy”, Women of Crewe, MMU, 2016
  • Conference paper: “Work-based learning in Traditional Theatre Environments”, Learning and Teaching Staff Conference, UoC, 2015
  • Conference paper: “Where have all the words gone? Challenges and Dilemmas in Performance- based Research”, Silence: A Semiotics of (in)Significance, Embodiments Conference, Liverpool University, 2015
  • Conference paper: “Narrative Methodologies in the Performing Arts,” Troubling Narratives Conference, Huddersfield, 2014
  • Conference paper: “Narrative Methodologies in the Performing Arts”, CCRAM, UoC, 2014
  • Conference paper: “Sewing Shadows, Drama in the Primary School Curriculum, Heathcote Re- Considered, National Drama, International Conference, 2013
  • Conference paper: “Fishing in Puddle: Place and Space in Performance Research”, IJADE, UoC, 2012


2012     PhD: Sewing Shadows, Investigating Performance Research in the Primary School Curriculum. Supervised by Professor Robin Nelson, Professor Dean Garratt and Dr Russell Jones. Externally examined by Professor Tony Jackson. MMU Cheshire.

2005     MA by Research:  Live Art and the Post-16 Curriculum. MMU Cheshire.

1998     PGCE, Further and Higher Education. Wolverhampton University

1992    BA Hons Creative Arts (Drama and Creative Writing) Crewe and Alsager College of Further Education