Project Team

Women/Theatre/Justice is an interdisciplinary project led by academics in theatre and performance studies and work and employment relations, in partnership with Clean Break theatre company.

In the Collaborators and Supporters pages, you'll find details about our colleagues from law, sociology, English literature, theatre and performance who are collaborating with us to produce seminars and public engagement events  across eleven universities across England. 

Project Team
Photo of Dr Sarah Bartley
Dr Sarah Bartley
Senior Lecturer in Community Performance and Applied Theatre Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

I am a community arts practitioner and have created performance projects with people in a range of social contexts over the past decade including: health, employment, education, and criminal justice. I have had the opportunity to work on prison arts projects with Rideout, Unlock Drama, Create Arts, and Shifting Point, and continue to seek out new ways to collaborate with artists within and beyond the prison estate. I am currently Senior Lecturer in Community Performance and Applied Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, after holding previous academic posts at the University of Reading, University of Leeds, Queen Mary University of London. As a researcher, I am interested in exploring the intersections of work, participation, and policy at play within socially engaged performance. My book, Performing Welfare (2020), examines the aggressive erosion of the UK welfare system and critically reflects on the implications of this erosion for socially committed performance practices. Across my teaching, research, and practice I am committed to finding creative ways to deploy performance in service to social justice.


Photo of Dr Deborah Dean
Dr Deborah Dean
Associate Professor of Industrial Relations, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.

I used to be an actor, singer and card-carrying Equity member, which took me many places, including Belfast (where I met Caoimhe), working around the island, representing Equity on the Women’s Committee of the NIC.ICTU, and starting the path to becoming an academic. I moved to Coventry and Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and the Industrial Relations Research Unit (where I met Anne-marie and am now Co-Director). My empirical research has included equality and diversity management in the public and private sectors; collective industrial action by insecure workers; and the effects of gender, age and ethnicity on the labour processes of professional actors – as the only workers employed to represent us to ourselves. Running through my projects is the same thread: attempts to understand the relationship between ideas and lived realities, and the ways in which this helps account for advantage and disadvantage in employment.

Read more about Dr Deborah Dean on the University of Warwick’s webite.

Photo of Prof Anne-marie Greene
Prof Anne-marie Greene
Professor of Work and Diversity, School for Business and Society, University of York.

The daughter of international teachers and growing up in Australia and Dubai, I returned to the UK to read Modern History at university, before settling on what has become a life-long passion for studying the world of work and particularly people who find themselves at the margins of the labour market and often without voice. Projects have included exploring experiences of women trade unionists, clergywomen, diversity consultants and most recently the emotional challenges of managing volunteers. After holding academic posts at North London, Aston, Warwick, De Montfort and Leicester universities, I am now Chair in Work and Diversity at the University of York School for Business and Society. Having been active in all things theatrical through school and university, I returned to my passion for theatre by finding the Criterion Theatre in Coventry, a charitable non-professional organisation completely run by volunteers. Over the 18 years I have been a member, I have acted in 36 productions and directed 13, and took over as Artistic Director in June 2019. 

Read more about Prof Anne-marie Greene on the University of York’s website.

Photo of Prof Caoimhe McAvinchey
Prof Caoimhe McAvinchey
Professor of Socially Engaged and Contemporary Performance, School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London.

I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s and was lucky enough to take part in community theatre projects that brought together young people from different cultural backgrounds. These encounters revealed new ways of seeing the world and the opportunity for people, who wouldn’t otherwise meet, to navigate it together. These experiences have informed all my work as a theatre maker with youth and community groups, as a cultural producer and as a Professor of Socially Engaged and Contemporary Performance. I am especially interested in how theatre makers have staged questions about the role of prison in society, economies of punishment, and the representations of criminalised bodies. I often collaborate with artists and arts organisations working in community settings to understand more about the material and political contexts that inform this work. For Applied Theatre: Women and the Criminal Justice System (2020), I invited artists and scholars working with women in criminal justice settings internationally to share their insights into different performance practices and the conditions that shape the lives of the women they work with. 

Read more about Prof Caoimhe McAvinchey on the Queen Mary University of London’s website.

Photo of Clean Break
Clean Break

Clean Break uses theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar, helping to reveal the damage caused by the failures of the criminal justice system. Through our unique work, we raise difficult questions, inspire debate, and help effect profound and positive change in the lives of women with experience of the criminal justice system. 


Visit the Clean Break website.



Born in London, I am an interdisciplinary artist and educator. This was my original training, but I took an early detour and my first career was as a singer. My work draws on this time as a performer, and an interweaving of ideas around social geography, linguistics, and film. I’m especially interested in how spaces make us feel; how bodies occupy space differently according to how they are performed, perceived, and mediated through hierarchies of visibility. My work here responds to the Women/Theatre/Justice (WTJ) project and its engagement with the performances, practices, and people within Clean Break Theatre Company. More widely, I am listening and responding to the project’s various voices: of people across diverse organizations who work daily and inventively to highlight and reshape the criminal justice system, and to the voices of women living the inequities. I am privileged to be responding to them all and to be experiencing the rich collisions of collaborative impact. Visit Laura Dean's website.