Researcher

Professor Michael Balfour

My Expertise

Michael Balfour's research explores applied theatre and performance work in a range of social contexts. He has extensive experience in prison theatre, refugee performance, performance in sites of war, and with returning servicemen managing mental health issues. His recent research extends to arts and health, where he has completed major studies with play based approach to working with people with mid to late stage dementia, and more recently co-designed virtual reality projects with adolescents with a serious illness in hospital.

Keywords

Fields of Research (FoR)

Performing arts, Drama, theatre and performance studies

Biography

Michael Balfour is Head of School and Professor of Theatre and Performance at UNSW.

Michael’s research explores applied theatre and performance work in a range of social contexts. He is currently lead investigator on Future Stories, a collaboration between UNSW, Griffith University and Queensland Childrens’ Health which explores the social benefits of co-designing virtual reality (VR) experiences with children in hospital. He has received...view more

Michael Balfour is Head of School and Professor of Theatre and Performance at UNSW.

Michael’s research explores applied theatre and performance work in a range of social contexts. He is currently lead investigator on Future Stories, a collaboration between UNSW, Griffith University and Queensland Childrens’ Health which explores the social benefits of co-designing virtual reality (VR) experiences with children in hospital. He has received numerous competitive national grants for projects including theatre and performance-based work in prisons, creative approaches to supporting the mental health of returning servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan, and arts-based work with newly arrived refugee communities. Michael’s work with creative approaches to working with people with mid to late stage dementia won a Creative Partnerships Award, and he was also the recipient of the Arts and Health National Leadership Award in 2017.

Michael has authored or edited 8 books, and over 50 book chapters and academic journal articles. His most recent publications include Performing Arts in Prisons: Creative Perspectives (Intellect, 2019), and Applied Theatre: Understanding Change (Springer, 2018) with Kelly Freebody, Michael Anderson and Michael Finneran. He is the series editor of the Bloomsbury Methuen applied theatre book series, that brings together leading international scholars to engage with and advance key themes in the field of applied theatre.

Before joining UNSW, Michael was Chair, Applied Theatre and Deputy Head of School, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University, Brisbane. He has also held positions at the University of Exeter, the University of Winchester and the University of Manchester.


My Grants

2018 Humanities Grant Development Fellowship ($6,000) Future Stories: emotion, empathy and social technologies. Exploring the affective benefits of immersive 360 video with children receiving palliative care services and their families.

2017 International Workshop Awards, Griffith University. Engaging the arts in ageing and wellbeing: Communities and care ($6,000).

2014 Collaborative Research Grant, Griffith University. Re-conceiving asylum seekers/refugees as transnational justice actors: Re-thinking practice and theory through creativity ($9,987).

2014 Strategic learning and teaching grant. The Twenty-first Century Academic: Re-imagining the life and work of academic staff to contribute to an enhanced university experience for staff and students ($50,000).

2013 Department of Immigration and Border Security. Traction and engagement project with young people from Logan ($50,000). Co-investigator with community agencies and Queensland Theatre Company.

2013 Australian Council of the Arts, Daughters of the Floating Brothel, ($20,000). Creative development of a verbatim project with women in corrections. Co-investigator with Woodland, S.

2012 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2012-2015). Playful engagement and dementia: assessing the efficacy of applied theatre practices for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities ($220,000).

2012 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2012-2015). Captive Audiences: The impact of performing arts programs in Australian prisons ($138,000).

2012 Collaborative Research Grant, Griffith University. The Boat House – Representing the Elders. Indigenous research, oral history and documentary theatre ($15,000).

2012 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching. Theatre Scope 2nd stage development ($14,000). Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2012-2013.

2011 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2011-2014). The difficult return: arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families. ($240,000). Principal investigator with Stewart, D., Nasveld, (University of Queensland) P., Fuery Chapman University, USA)

2011 Collaborative Research Scheme, Griffith University. The Boat House - Representing the Elders: indigenous research, oral history, and documentary theatre ($16,000).

2010 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2010-2013). Developing refugee resilience and effective resettlement through drama-based interventions ($80,000). Principal investigator with Burton, B Bundy, P and Dunn, J.

2010 Diverse Australia Grant (Department for Immigration and Citizenship) ‘Live Stories’ worked creatively and collaboratively with diverse community groups to enhance inter-ethnic dialogue and understanding ($33,000) Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2010-2011.

2009 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching Theatre Scope: Attainment, Access and Engagement. Developing sustainable responses to inclusion, diversity and student success through innovative and creative work-based learning initiatives ($50,000). Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2009-2011.

2009 Leverhulme Trust. A three-year international research network grants to foster and develop partnerships with performance artists working in war zones (£88,000). Co-investigator with Thompson, J.

2008 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, in partnership with Refugee and Immigration Legal Services (RAILS) for a community based Citizenship Education Program. ($40,000).

2004 Arts and Humanities Research Council Major Research Grant (2004-2008). In Place of War (£390,000). Co-investigator with Thompson, J (Principal, University of Manchester).


My Qualifications

University of Lancaster. Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance (1998).

University of Ulster Bachelor of Arts (First Class Hons) Theatre and Media Studies (1992) First Class Honours.


My Awards

2017 National Leadership in Arts and Health, Arts and Health National Awards.

2015 National Leadership in Arts and Health Research, Arts and Health National Awards.

2015 Nominated, The Return (Play) Prize for Distinctive Work in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Council of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS).

2013 Playful Engagement and Dementia, Creative Partnerships Australia Award.

2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Australian National Awards for University Teaching.

2011 National Teaching Excellence Award, Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

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Location

Room 311S, Webster Building
University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Sydney NSW 2052


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