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Staff Profile

Rachel Conlon

Joint Course Lead (MA Applied Theatre) and Senior Lecturer

Staff profile image of Rachel Conlon

I am the Director of the YSJ Prison Partnership Project and Senior Lecturer in Theatre specialising in socially engaged arts practice, with a particular interest in theatre in the criminal justice system. My practice investigates women’s personal and collective narratives and explores the relationship women navigate between the inside and outside of prison. With a professional career that spans over the last 20 years, I am also an active practitioner in the field of drama with young people at risk and make theatre work with, for and by diverse youth communities. My work is driven by a social justice and feminist agenda and I collaborate with other practitioners across art forms as well. My postgraduate training was in Drama Therapy and also in Applied Theatre and my work takes on a therapeutic approach in its process and delivery, offering the potential for change, empowerment and transformation.

I run the YSJ Prison Partnership Project in HMP Askham Grange and HMP New Hall, a theatre project delivering weekly arts practice that provides an enhanced learning opportunity for York St John students to engage in arts practice with women in prison. The project collaborates also with the Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy and with the theatre company Clean Break.

Together with colleague Jules Dorey Richmond I coordinate and deliver the ‘On the Out’ project that creatively engages with women post release from prison and in recovery living in the local York community. For the last 4 years Jules and I have been touring nationally in secondary schools the ‘It’s not Ok’ theatre in education play, that explores issues surrounding child sexual exploitation for the NSPCC. Theatre students and alumni work alongside us on ‘It’s Not Ok’ touring the play across the country.

I lead on the BA Drama, Education & Community degree and the MA Applied Theatre course. I teach and support students across the theatre degrees in their journey to create drama workshops and theatre performances that engage with the wider local and regional community, in settings such as schools, youth, mental health settings, elderly care homes, homeless hostels and in prison. Ensuring that the work created is accessible, participatory and promotes social and political change and affords an opportunity for communities to tell their stories through engagement in theatre.