Ali Franks

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Ali Franks FHEA, PG Cert, BA(QTS) Hons

Lecturer in Performing Arts


Lead on Applied Drama BA (Hons)


  • Introduction to Applied Drama
  • Drama, Health and Wellbeing
  • Drama and Theatre in Education
  • Participatory Performance Project
  • The Advanced Practitioner
  • Applied Practice in Action
  • Independent Project

Ali has over fifteen years’ experience as an Applied Drama Practitioner working in a wide range of settings including schools, community settings, PRUs, youth groups, homeless hostels, women’s refuge, secure units, YOS, and working with asylum seekers and refugees.

She currently specialises in using drama as a tool for personal development and emotional health with young people and vulnerable or marginalised adults. She is a qualified teacher with further qualifications in counselling skills.

Ali studied Drama and Education under Jonothan Neelands and Sir Ken Robinson at the University of Warwick 1994-1998, and then returned to Higher Education to study Devised Theatre at Dartington College of Arts in 2000.

Ali’s recent projects include #noblurredlines, a participatory theatre project aimed at 16-24 year olds addressing the issue is sexual consent and compliance, alongside work commissioned by Barnardos Cymru, Healthy Schools and a number of local and national agencies across South Wales.

  • TaPRA: the Theatre and Performance Research Association
  • YANC - Youth Arts Network Cymru
  • WAHWN - Wales Arts and Health Network
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Exploring the disparity between the narrative and performed identities of adolescents through dramatic exploration: the performance of self in social media contexts.
  • Can participatory arts engender social-connectedness in a world of digital replacements and how we evidence this?
  • Relationships in the theatre space: how does the applied practitioner cultivate a safe, empathetic and compassionate space?

Ali is interested in the therapeutic role of theatre in process and performance and the power of participatory theatre to affect and engage. Her workshop methodologies draw on a range of sources from Augusto Boal to Geese Theatre.

2013 “Engaging Communities, Building Futures” ATRiUM (University of South Wales): Keynote Speaker: “Sustaining the visible and invisible: stories from partnership led practice” 

2015 “Unknown Pleasures" Symposium UWTSD Panel Speaker “#noblurredlines: Walking a fine line: Risk in Participatory Theatre in Schools”

2018  The Wales NEXUS Conference 2018: Teaching and Learning, UWTSD. Symposium Panel Speaker:"Partnership working with Higher Education, Participatory Arts and the Health and Wellbeing Agenda in Wales"

2018 Wales Festival of Innovation 2018 "Pandora's Last Look: Storytelling for the Modern Age Symposium" Speaker: "Storytelling, Health and Wellbeing"

2020: UWTSD Perspectives Podcast: A Call for Compassionate Creativity. Listen here: