Staff profile

Dr Ava Hunt


Senior Lecturer Programme Leader MA Applied Theatre & Education

Ava Hunt




College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts

Research centre

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre, Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre




Derby Theatre



I am Programme Leader for the MA Applied Theatre and Education.  I am also an artist running an applied theatre production company based in Derbyshire.

Information on my PhD by publication

Three interconnected solo performances explore the by-stander role. Why do some people risk their own life to save others? What makes someone compelled to act?  My methodology used a/r/tography mixed method data collection approaches.  Through the roles of artist, researcher, and teacher I worked with almost 5,000 participants/audiences. These productions toured schools, theatres, festivals and academic conferences over a ten year period investigating agency and activism within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through participation, the productions explored how we activate the tritagonist the third voice in a conflict.

Thesis title 

Tritagonist Theatre: investigating the activation of the bystander through three interconnected solo performances


Teaching responsibilities

Professional interests

I trained as an actor forty years ago and continue to work professionally in theatre, film, commercials and television.

I have my own production company developing new and exciting work on a range of research areas including working with children, refugees and looked after young people.

My industry professional experience includes: Artistic Director and producer co-founder of Tangere Arts in 2003, co-Artistic Director of Yorkshire Women Theatre and Central Line Touring, Artistic Programmer for Hull Truck Theatre (2010) and Associate Director for CAST Doncaster (2015). I have also worked with Derby Theatre as a Youth Theatre director, delivering training to Youth Theatre directors for NAYT, Scottish Association of Youth Theatre Directors and working on National Theatre Connections Festivals 2015, 2016. 

I trained with Augusto Boal in Forum Theatre and Rainbow of Desire (1990/92). I also worked closely with Dr Dorothy Heathcote over many years delivering work to our students at University of Derby. My work has won several awards including: 

Research interests

2009 - 2010 I'm No Hero toured venues throughout Nottingham and Derbyshire. Material draws on key historical events during the Holocaust and a contemporary story in Palestine This work has continued and I am currently in receipt of Arts Council funding and University of Derby Research funding to travel to Israel and Palestine.

2013 - Research with my Applied Drama students used Michael Morporgo's book The Kites Are Flying in schools to develop ideas. I then travelled to the West Bank and worked with theatre companies: The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, and The Alrowwad Centre in Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. I filmed and worked with children, then performed a new multi-media one-woman show based on the book and using footage filmed in the West Bank at Derby Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse.

2014 - Following on from my research in the West Bank, I was commissioned by Amnesty International to create a new one-woman show called "Acting Alone" which performed as part of the Wirksworth Festival. In 2015, the Arts Council grant funded a reworking of the piece which then toured both nationally and internationally. The piece focused on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the role of the international community.

2016 - Delivering workshops in schools looking at migration and social division using in-role Mantle of the Expert with young people and teachers in collaboration with Dr Redman in Delhi India.

2015 - 2017 - Research focuses on young refugees using autobiographical and verbatim material. Following a six-month period of international travel and research developing ideas for a new piece of theatre with artists in Australia focusing on the themes of young refugees. This research was funded by the British Council. The material has been piloted with young audiences with Derby Youth Theatre and to audiences as part of National Refugee Week (June 2017). 

2019 - Continued research into refugee stories. Journeys of Destiny told the verbatim story of Syrian Saad Alkassab. This successfully toured schools and theatres throughout the region. 

2019 - Real for Me is a new research piece using drama to investigate the effect of social media and pornography on young people's relationships. An article will soon be published about this project.

2019 -2022 - Destines - a co-creation piece with young people with care experience and young unaccompanied asylum seekers with Sinfonia Viva and Derbyshire County Council Virtual School. This production moved from a theatre experience to online delivery as a result of COVID19 lockdown. The piece was a filmed theatre piece that was screened at Derby Theatre as part of the Culture Cares Conference 2021.

2022 - A/r/tography Research Cluster - a new Journal will be launched in 2023 - working as part of the editorial board.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

2015 - Politics, Protest and Performance Conference at University College of Cork, performance of Acting Alone

2015 - Performance of Hope: International Applied Theatre Conference University of Auckland, performance of Acting Alone

2016 - IFTR: International Federation Theatre Research in Stockholm, paper and extract of Acting Alone

2016 - Applied Theatre Education Conference University of New York - paper and extract of Acting Alone

2016 - Lincoln University - Political Theatre - performance of Acting Alone

2017 - ISTR - Irish Society of Theatre Research, Nottingham University presented conference paper on verbatim and participatory theatre  

2018 - ADSA - Melbourne University - Conference paper on verbatim and The Learning Theatre at Derby Theatre

2019 - ASSITEJ Norway - presented paper on Mental Health Crises and Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA)

2019 - TaPRA Exeter - paper on Journeys of Destiny - refugees and social cohesion - how do we remove the echo chambers?

2022 - Dorothy Heathcote Now - International Conference presenting Journeys of Destiny - and the use of in role

Experience in industry

I have worked as a professional actor, director, programmer and producer for 38 years some of the companies that I have worked with include: Shared Experience, Hull Truck Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse, Half Moon, Language Alive, Tangere Arts, Theatre Centre. As well as my television work including: Coronation StreetHollyoaksEmmerdaleTouch of FrostDangerfieldThe Royal Today, Grown Ups, Heartbeat etc.

My theatre work includes working for: Theatre Centre, Half Moon Young Peoples Theatre, Avon Touring Theatre, Yorkshire Women, Roundabout Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Playhouse, Derby Theatre. As a Youth Theatre Director, I have worked for Shared Experience, Derby Theatre, TV Workshops Nottingham. 

I have created participatory drama for young people and community audiences covering subjects including: alcohol misuse, sex and relationships education, HIV/AIDS, refugees, bullying, domestic violence, young carers, knife crime, eating disorders, racism, transition, environmental issues, citizenship and aspiration.

I have extensive experience in the business/corporate sector using theatre, drama facilitation and role play.

2010 - 2011 - Hull Truck Theatre - Artistic Assistant - responsible for programming main stage and studio space with drama, comedy, music and dance. Programmed Children's Theatre Festival, Black History Month and worked with a wide range of community groups to engage and increase diversity and cultural inclusion. 

2015 - Cast at Doncaster - Associate Director - responsible for community outreach, new writing rehearsed play readings, programming master classes, and liaising with Arts Council Creative People and Places funded community and theatre engagement programme supporting community cast.

2019 - 2022 -  freelance actor in film and TV and director/producer.  Corporate Role play/Management training programmes

International experience

1991 - 2015 - USSR, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Israel, Palestine, Romania

2016 - Calais (The Jungle), France, working with charities researching refugee stories for development with artists in Australia including:

2017 - Dehli, India, delivering workshops in schools with teachers and young people with Dr Redman on the use of in-role and Heathcote's Mantle of the Expert

2018 - Working with Saad Alkasab in Melbourne, Australia, recording verbatim material to contribute to "Journeys of Destiny"

2020 - Vienna: CONNECT UP presented a paper with Derby Theatre and 12 European countries' theatre mediation, with artists and teachers creating access for marginalised communities

2021 - Portugal: Masterclass for CONNECT UP: Theatre Mediation Programme - evaluation methods

2022 - Milan: CONNECT UP: presenting hotseating techniques within Applied Drama practice

2022 - Norway: CONNECT UP: Planning e-learning resources for Teachers Mediation programme

Additional interests and activities

Play alto saxophone in community band performing throughout Derbyshire

In the media

Recent publications