Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Project examples: performance and testimony, (auto) biographical monodrama, biographical narrative interviewing methods, cultural memory, theatre and memorialisation, ensemble culture and performative collective memory, biography of objects and performance methods

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Personal profile

Research interests

Arnfield is an Actor, Director, Facilitator, Writer uncovering synergies between (auto) biographical theatre practice and ethnographic and archival study in the social sciences and humanities.

Arnfield transforms (auto)biographical narratives (including that inscribed-on objects) into choral, ensemble and solo performances, staging these at sites of cultural significance on or around days of civic remembrance.


Further Information

  • Arnfield’s research projects are practice-led exploring how historical biographical information and narratives can be transferred into performative action engaging the spectator by blending memories; their own and others reframing the past in the present. Arnfield has worked extensively in the field of (Auto) Biographical Theatre. Arnfield’s research seeks to investigate memory discourses and the rendering of memory, which refuses complete immersion into a supposedly past moment. Supporting the action of public commemoration by enabling the participant to remember the past filtered through the present is at the core of the work. Arnfield is committed to developing interdisciplinary research and specialises in the creation of monodramas and choral works based on testimony. Arnfield works with ensembles to combine performance with oral history and biographical research that serves both the arts and social justice in the process, enabling lost or silent voices within archives, community groups, individual testimony to be reheard and re-experienced by all who are willing to listen.


  • Arnfield’s research disrupts and pushes the boundaries of contemporary (auto) biographical theatre practice through an interdisciplinary questioning of its role and function in memory studies, biographical narrative interviewing methods, performance and testimony.


  • Arnfield has developed a distinct practice called (LMTM) Living Memorial Theatre Methodology (2018), forensically examining the similarities, differences between creating (auto) biographical theatre and Biographical Narrative Interviewing Methods (BNIM) Sociology. The use of the word ‘surrogate’ is key in LMTM rerouting ownership, facilitating a ‘deputising’ to act, or bear witness for another. LMTM initiates a cyclical process: Host (BNIM) to first surrogate (Actors/Director), to second surrogate (Spectator), to new Host (Witness).


  • Arnfield transfers, transforms (auto) biographical narrative text into choral, ensemble, solo performance. Arnfield’s expertise produces performances sourced from oral history linked to or situated on sites of cultural significance, performed on or around days of civic remembrance. LMTM places performance methods (theatre) and biographical methods (sociology) in parallel, delivering purposeful knowledge through performed biographical research, serving both the arts and social justice in the process.


  • Projects include commissions by international, cultural organisations, Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre, Lodz, Poland, Defiant Requiem Foundation, Washington DC, USA. Arnfield tests methods of participatory engagement adapting material from memoir, fiction, non-fiction, diaries, letters, objects into performances.


  • As a Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellow (2018/19) at the University of Lodz Centre for Biographical Research and Oral History in Poland, Arnfield developed her LMTM on hidden sites of cultural significance. Reconstructing sourced material into contemporary transcripts, play scripts, librettos, musical compositions, choreographed sequences. LMTM cultivates a process of de-centring, of viewing events from the perspective of others, not in a purely cognitive sense but at a more holistic, emotional level enabling audiences to ‘inhabit’ the original testimony.

Education/Academic qualification

Drama, BA (Hons), Dartington College of Arts

1 Sept 19841 Jul 1988

Award Date: 1 Sept 1988


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