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Research-Informed Practice scheme

The Research-Informed Practice scheme supported the development of creative collaborations between leading cultural organisations and academic researchers working in complementary fields and exploring the process of research-informed collaboration towards a new creative project.

Over the 2016/17 academic year King's College London supported six leading artists/ cultural organisations to  work with King’s academics, drawing on their research and expertise in the research and development phase of a new creative piece. The aim was that this would lead to the production of new creative works informed by cutting-edge research and providing that research, in turn, with impact and visibility.

 It was supported by the university's Culture team.


A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer (APG) is a new touring musical commissioned by Complicite and co-produced with the National Theatre. APG will be an all-singing, all-dancing examination of life with a cancer diagnosis, using big anthems and shiny costumes to find new and more varied ways of talking about cancer - the scariest word we know.

Alongside the show and working with Dr Charlotte Wilson-Jones, Director of Undergraduate Psychiatric Teaching, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Complicite will create a digital resource for audiences interested in learning more. This online 'Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer' will collect interviews and information from former cancer patients, healthcare practitioners and leading scientists as well as the show's creative team. The guide will have a dual purpose, providing insight into the creation of the show itself but also offering frank, funny and practical advice for cancer patients and those affected by cancer.

 The ‘fight’ against cancer is deeply rooted in the public imagination: together we are funding charities, wearing pink ribbons and racing for life. The media is awash with life affirming accounts of people who have battled with cancer and won - but we rarely hear from those who emerge from the chemotherapy ward angry, miserable or scared, or from those who don't emerge at all. Without dismissing the importance of affirmation, the APG resource site will offer an alternative to the kind of mandatory positivity that can become oppressive, and can render certain ways of talking about cancer taboo. The resource will provide a space for the cancer stories we don't normally hear, offering solace for those who need a more realistic reflection of their experiences, and answers for those with questions.


  • Complicite, theatre company

  • Dr Charlotte Wilson-Jones, Director of Undergraduate Psychiatric Teaching, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Fair Field is an ambitious multi-arts production about politics, faith and how to be a good person. Inspired by the medieval epic poem Piers Plowman, Fair Field will be presented in July 2017 across the rugged landscape of the Malvern Hills and in the heart of London, on stage and in the street, on foot and online. Dr Lawrence Warner will work with Penned in the Margins and the creative directors of the piece to provide advice, decode and contextualise the poem.

Fair Field re-imagines Herefordshire poet William Langland's extraordinary vision of fourteenth century England in a series of site-responsive performances that splice together medieval and modern through music, theatre, spoken word and digital storytelling.  The dream-vision is divided into five ‘moments', each created by a different artist, to explore key issues that bring the medieval  age together with the modern: from social justice to labour reform, from faith to high finance. Together, they will tell Will's story over two weekends: firstly in the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury, and then in the heart of London. Fair Field will play out online too, using social media to narrate Will's journey of self-discovery and connect audiences with contemporary ideas emerging from this explosive medieval text.

With its combination of biting satire and debate, Piers Plowman is second only to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the medieval canon. Never before has Piers inspired a creative response on this scale, informed by academic research and using innovative performance methods, in locations with electrifying connections to the original poem. Fair Field brings an important work of English literature out of the academy and gives it new life for modern audiences.


A collaboration between Camden People’s Theatre and Professor Frank Kelly and the Lung Biology Group at Kings College London, Fog Everywhere is a new production splicing a topical exploration of the capital city’s air quality with a playful folk history of the London fog. Created in collaboration with Camden-based young people, and performed for an adult audience, this spirited docu-theatre event will co-opt the drama with which ‘traditional’ London smog is associated (Bleak House, Jekyll & Hyde etc), to explore the damage wrought on the health of its 21st-century population, particularly schoolchildren, by pollution.  (E.g. “Air pollution stunting children's lungs, study finds” – The Telegraph; “Air pollution linked to increased mental illness in children” – Guardian). The show will experiment with motifs of sightlessness while exploring the contrast between these first visible then invisible forms of pollution. There will be smoke machines.

New mayor Sadiq Khan has identified air pollution as a priority issue, and this increasingly urgent topic will dominate headlines throughout his tenure. Fog Everywhere delves beneath the broad-brush media coverage, drawing on Christine Corton’s 2015 book London Fog: the Biography and new research by the Lung Biology Group to build a picture of the alarming human damage wrought by air pollution.

The show will be accompanied by a series of talks and workshops exploring up-to-date research into London’s air quality, and how audiences and participants can become involved in the campaign to address it.


Hormones are chemical prostheses, political drugs. The substance not only modifies the filter through which we decode and re-codify the world; it also radically modifies the body and, as a result, the mode under which we are decoded by others

Hearty involves the development of three strands of work – an innovative live theatre production; a ceramic visual art installation and an intergeneration workshop – all responding to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a politicised issue. It will explore this in the context of different female transitions including cisgender menopause and transgender male to female transition, both of which increasingly have a complex relationship to the bio-technology of HRT.

The collaborative research and development phase funded by this scheme will draw on the overlapping interests of Emma Frankland, Artist and Independent Theatre Practitioner and Professor Myra Hunter, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Health Psychology at King's College London.

The Performance will examine the tension between the pain relief provided by these drugs and the gender politics of the pharmaceutical industry, in particular the contradictory nature of a family of drugs that can provide relief from suffering but that is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry and potentially has contributed to the erasure ad diabolisation of powerful older women - “crones”.

The accompanying workshop will facilitate intergenerational conversation between transgender women undergoing HRT as part of gender transition and cisgender women undergoing HRT as part of menopause. The workshops will both feed into the devising process of the performance during the R&D period, and provide an accessible opportunity to offer context and further debate alongside the touring production.

The project’s third stand will consist of the construction of several large ceramic vessels made in collaboration with Emma’s mother Sheran Dickenson (a menopausal ceramicist) inspired by conversations about her experience of menopause and transformation. These recorded conversations will be played from inside the ceramic vessels. This strand of the project has been commissioned by the transgender art exhibition’ Art Mob’ and will also feed directly into the performance and workshop strands.

This project will cover topics that are still taboo, create collaboration between two categories of women who are often depicted as oppositional and provides an opportunity for them to unite over their shared experiences in a creative and long lasting way.


This project is also supported by Battersea Arts Centre, Hall for Cornwall and Art Mob

A History of the Future of the World will be a large-scale contemporary pageant that explores agency and multiplicity in the construction of shared narratives.

The work takes as its starting point given histories presented at pageants historically in the UK, based on Professor Paul Readman and Dr Tom Hulme’s research (both Modern History Department, Kings College). In a uniquely crafted participatory performance developed by artist Emma Smith scripts will be offered up for public participation and intervention, to debate how histories are constructed and to whom they belong. Offering up agency and voice to the public, the work provides a platform for collective narration and shared histories to consider how pageantry can take account of demographic changes and be fully representative of British Society today. 

This work develops out of conversations on shared research interests between academics Prof. Paul Readman, Dr Tom Hulme and artist Emma Smith. Together they are interested in exploring the construction of place history through pageantry and the voice of the public in this narration. Through this academic collaboration the artist proposes to make a new performance work that would not only be informed by the academic research but in its activation would create a platform for the continuation of this academic research process.


  • Emma Smith, artist working with performance and public participation 
  • Professor Paul ReadmanVice-Dean (Research), Arts & Humanities / History and Professor of Modern British History
  • Dr Tom HulmeSchool of Advanced Studies 

Russell Maliphant Company jointly with Dr Kelina Gotman is seeking to carry out an in depth research period that will inform a new creation exploring the question ‘what shapes our body and movement patterns?’ This period will culminate in a performative lecture demonstration for a public audience.

Areas of exploration will include:

  • Anatomical influences, with a particular focus on recent developments in the understanding of fascia and how this shapes and influences movement
  • Aspects of architectural form, including tensegrity and the newly coined ‘bio-tensegrity’ - and how these concepts may shift our understanding of our body’s physical landscape
  • How physically referenced language within our culture might influence our body and the feedback loop between body, mind and spirit might effect our attitude or posture (e.g. phrases like: chin-up, stand firm, knuckle down, head in the clouds)
  • The world around us - and how the developments of a culture might influence our patterns of movement and dynamics. (e.g. furniture and the idea of ‘uprightness’)
  • The history of anatomical thinking and biomechanical models in movement arts; cultural and scientific discourse describing interactions between movement/body, industry, and health/wellbeing

The initial research period will focus on the way our conscious and unconscious knowledge of the body might affect our physicality. Part of the research would be looking at how we learn to be physical and explore the quality of that physicality. This would include examining observational and architectural developments that have altered our understanding of the body and its workings, from the biological, to the mechanical, to the social and environmental.


With Becky Shaw (artist) & Mavis Machirori (PhD student, Health Research)

The type of knowledge generated by research can often sit in uncomfortable opposition to practice-led learning. We look at the roles of research in our disciplines, how we balance the roles of the researcher/student and the demands of ethics vs the daily reality of research, as well as how we move from qualified/knowledgeable clinician to researcher/student. Transition between roles often generates anxiety and even conflict, so we are keen to explore whether balance can exist in the multiplicity of roles we occupy as we work to make a difference to our disciplines. Some of these conflicts of identity also exist in artistic practice, so thinking about the similarities and differences in our situations might generate fresh insight. 

These questions, along with others posed by research students, were discussed in fortnightly forums hosted by artist Becky Shaw, using creative responses including role-play, film and object handling drawn from the archive of Florence Nightingale, amongst others. 

For more infomation about the artist see her website here:


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