Dr Erin Walcon
Senior Lecturer in Applied Drama and Theatre (E&S)
Erin serves as a Lecturer in Applied & Educational Theatre, and as the convenor of the MA Applied Theatre pathway. She is also Co-Director of Doorstep Arts in Torbay: a grassroots organisation providing sustainable long-term participatory arts engagement opportunities for children and young people in an area of statistically low socio-economic status. Doorstep Arts works in collaboration with Battersea Arts Centre and 8 regions across the UK as part of the Collaborative Touring Network (2013-2024), building connections between outstanding touring performance and ongoing participatory work at various doorstep sites across Torbay.
Her 2013 PhD, titled Vital Spaces/Vital Signs: Young People, Performance, Identity and Dialogue, examined the ways in which devised theatre practice with young people aged 13-19 creates pedagogically rich space for dialogue about identity and social change. From 2013-2015, Erin worked on the AHRC-funded Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space as a postdoctoral research fellow. This research was led by Jane Milling (Exeter), Helen Nicholson (Royal Holloway) and Nadine Holdsworth (Warwick) and was the first major study to seriously consider the social and cultural dimensions of amateur dramatics. From 2016-2021, she also served as the drama advisor for the MA in Creative Arts in Education, within the Graduate School of Education on the St Lukes campus.
Erin currently serves as a board member for Theatre Alibi, helping to host their Getting Through the Cracks symposium series in 2020-21. She also serves on the Advisory Board for Beyond Face and the Cultural Learning Alliance.
Erin's research interests include: dialogic theatre, participatory arts, social justice, community engagement, critical pedagogy, and theatre in education. As a practitioner, Erin facilitates and directs devised theatre, using creative writing, physical techniques, dance and original music to create new works with young people.
She writes and publishes in open-access and public-friendly formats which aim to have a non-academic audience and readership, primarily using the Doorstep Arts blog as a primary space for reflection, sharing practice, and opening up dialogue about key areas of concern.
Research through practice
Erin's research is conducted through practice. Much of this work is led by Doorstep Arts in Torbay. This grassroots and community-based action research enriches the Applied Theatre courses by creating practical projects for university students. Erin's work uses a Participatory Action Research framework.
External impact and engagement
Erin's work is practice-based, and depends upon strong partnerships with the local community. As former Artistic Director of Devon Youth Theatre, Erin developed a long-term partnership with DAISI (Devon Arts in Schools Initiative) to provide a free schools theatre outreach programme every January/February. This outreach programme culminates with a showcase at the Exeter Northcott Theatre. This outreach programme continues as the Devising Discovery Series, now funded by the Widening Participation office & by Doorstep Arts' Open Doors Outreach programme. Schools interested in booking outreach workshops as part of the Devising Discovery series should email Erin directly.
As one of the members of staff working with the Applied Theatre pathway, she supports university students working out in the field with various school, health and community groups. Current project placements include RD&E Hospital School, MED Theatre, Age UK, Magic Carpet, The Turning Tides Project, Libraries Unlimited, Westbank Community Centre, and many regional primary & secondary schools.
Through Doorstep Arts, Erin administers and produces 14 ongoing weekly groups for children and young people aged 4-25 across Torbay. These groups devise and create their own theatre, dance and music with support from professional artists. Erin is also a regional producer for Battersea Arts Centre's Collaborative Touring Network - the CTN is aiming to reinvent touring theatre through work in nine areas of traditionally low arts-engagement across the UK.
Erin serves as the chair of the Torbay Arts in Schools Network (the regional Cultural Education Partnership) and serves on the boards of Theatre Alibi, Beyond Face & the Cultural Learning Alliance.
Erin regularly teaches on a variety of practice-based modules in the Drama Department, but her specialism is Applied and Educational Theatre. She convenes the two elective modules which focus on community-based socially engaged theatre practce: DRA2026 and DRA3012.
She also serves as the drama advisor for the MA in Creative Arts in Education on the St Lukes campus in the Graduate School of Education. Here, she teaches on MA courses EFPM224, EFPM228, and EFPM308.
A former secondary teacher in the USA, Erin's own MA in Teaching enriches her pedagogical approach, and she uses a student-centred and experiential model of teaching.