Staff profile

Professor Ava Hunt


Associate Professor of Applied Theatre

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



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

Information on my PhD by publication

Three interconnected solo performances explore the bystander role. Why do some people risk their own lives 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 went to Drama School and trained as an actor forty years ago. I continue to work professionally in theatre, film, commercials and television.

I have my own production company developing new and exciting work in a range of research areas including working with children, and 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, the Scottish Association of Youth Theatre Directors and working on National Theatre Connections Festivals 2015, and 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 the University of Derby.

My work has won several awards including: 

Research interests

2009 - 2010 I'm No Hero toured venues throughout Nottingham and Derbyshire. The material draws on key historical events during the Holocaust and a contemporary story in Palestine. This production received funding from the Arts Council funding and the University of Derby Research.

2013 - Working with UG Applied Drama students we explored Michael Morporgo's book The Kites Are Flying with year 6 pupils in schools. 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 delivering workshops with children. This generated filmed material that was then adapted and performed at Derby Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse.

2014 - I was commissioned by Amnesty International to create a solo performance 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 continued to explore the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the role of the bystander.

2017 - 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.

2016 - 2017 - The British Council funded me to research using autobiographical and verbatim material whilst working with refugees and asylum seekers. 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. The material performed to audiences as part of National Refugee Week (June 2017). 

2019 - "Journeys of Destiny" told the verbatim story of Syrian Saad Alkassab. This successfully toured schools and theatres throughout the region. 

2019 - "Real for Me" was a new research piece using drama to investigate the effect of social media and pornography on young people's relationships as part of the Relationships & Sex Education.  It was funded by Arts Council England and Derbyshire Police Commissioner. UG Applied Drama students developed the research material. This research was published as a chapter.

2019 -2022 - "Destines" - a co-creation piece with young people with care experience and young unaccompanied asylum seekers with Sinfonia Viva, Orchestra Live and Derbyshire County Council Virtual School. This production moved from a theatre experience to online delivery as a result of Covid-19 lockdown. The piece was a filmed theatre piece that was screened at Derby Theatre as part of the Culture Cares Conference 2021, and won two awards.

2023 - A/r/tography Research Cluster - publications, regular meetings and connection with international academic community.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

Experience in industry

Working as a professional actor, director, programmer and producer for 40 years some of the companies that I have worked with include:

My theatre work includes working for:

As a Youth Theatre Director, I have worked for Shared Experience, Derby Theatre, TV Workshops Nottingham.

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 - 2023 -  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.

2023 - Vancouver CONNECT UP: Delivering workshops - theatre mediation for artists, academics and teachers.

In the media

Recent publications