Michael Balfour

Head of School

Michael Balfour is Head of School and Professor of Theatre and Performance at UNSW.

Michael’s research explores applied theatre and performance work in a range of social contexts. He is currently lead investigator on Future Stories, a collaboration between UNSW, Griffith Film School and Queensland Childrens’ Health which explores the social benefits of co-designing virtual reality (VR) experiences with children in hospital. He has received numerous competitive national grants for projects including theatre and performance-based work in prisons, creative approaches to supporting the mental health of returning servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan, and arts-based work with newly arrived refugee communities. Michael’s work with creative approaches to working with people with mid to late stage dementia won a Creative Partnerships Award, and he was also the recipient of the Arts and Health National Leadership Award in 2017.

Michael has authored or edited 8 books, and over 50 book chapters and academic journal articles. His most recent publications include Performing Arts in Prisons: Creative Perspectives (Intellect, 2019), and Applied Theatre: Understanding Change (Springer, 2018) with Kelly Freebody, Michael Anderson and Michael Finneran. He is the series editor of the Bloomsbury Methuen applied theatre book series, that brings together leading international scholars to engage with and advance key themes in the field of applied theatre.

Before joining UNSW, Michael was Chair, Applied Theatre and Deputy Head of School, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University, Brisbane. He has also held positions at the University of Exeter, the University of Winchester and the University of Manchester.

Books
add
Freebody K; Balfour M; Finneran M; Anderson M, (eds.), 2018, Applied theatre: Understanding change, Springer
2018
2016, Leadership in Diverse Learning Contexts, Springer International Publishing, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28302-9
2016
Balfour M; Bundy P; Burton B; Dunn J; Woodrow N, 2015, Applied theatre resettlement: Drama, refugees and resilience, Bloomsbury Methuen
2015
Balfour M, (ed.), 2013, Refugee performance: Practical encounters, Intellect
2013
Balfour ML, 2012, Permissions
2012
Thomson J; Hughes J; Balfour M, (eds.), 2009, Performance: In place of war, University of Chicago Press
2009
Balfour M; Somers JW, (ed.), 2006, Drama as social intervention, Captus University Publications
2006
2004, Prison theatre: Theory and practice, Intellect
2004
Balfour M, 2004, Theatre in prison: Theory and practice
2004
2001, Theatre and war: Performance in extremis, 1934-1945, Berghahn Books
2001
Book Chapters
add
Balfour M; Dunn J, 2020, 'Locating hope: Exploring departures in applied theatre work with people with advanced dementia.', in Breed A; Prentki T (ed.), The Routledge companion to applied performance, Routledge
2020
Balfour M, 2019, 'The politics of care: Play, stillness and social presence', in Eckersall P; Grehan H (ed.), The Routledge companion to theatre and politics, Routledge, pp. 93 - 97, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203731055-23
2019
Balfour M, 2018, 'Music projects with veteran and military communities', in , pp. 555 - 572, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190219505.013.2
2018
Balfour M; Freebody K, 2018, 'Theories of change: Cultural value and applied theatre', in Freebody K; Balfour M; Finneran M; Anderson M (ed.), , Springer, pp. 19 - 31
2018
Balfour M; Dunn J; Martin K, 2017, 'Playful engagement: Exploring the features of applied theatre approaches to engaging Individuals living with dementia', in McCormick S (ed.), , Bloomsbury Methuen, pp. 128 - 149
2017
Balfour M, 2017, 'Music projects with veteran and military communities', in Bartleet B-L; Higgins L (ed.), , Oxford University Press, pp. 101 - 131
2017
Balfour M, 2016, 'Performing the promised land: The festivalizing of multi-cultures in the margate exodus project', in The Festivalization of Culture, pp. 207 - 228
2016
Balfour M, 2016, 'The art of facilitation: Tain’t what you do (it’s the way that you do it)', in Preston S (ed.), Applied theatre: Facilitation, Bloomsbury Methuen, pp. 151 - 164
2016
Hassall L; Balfour M, 2016, 'Transitioning home: Research-based theatre with returning servicemen and their families', in Belliveau G; Lea GW (ed.), , Intellect, pp. 103 - 116
2016
Balfour M, 2015, 'A fragile dance: Art and place making in times of war and not war', in Fleming M; Bresler L; O Toole J (ed.), The Routledge international handbook of the arts and education, Routledge, pp. 305 - 314
2015
Whyte T; Matthew C; Balfour M; Murphy L; Hassall L, 2015, 'Getting to know the story of the Boathouse Dances: Football, freedom and rock ‘n’ roll', in McDonald J; Mason R (ed.), , Intellect, pp. 81 - 97
2015
Balfour M, 2015, 'The difficult return: Supporting returning veterans through an arts-based social leadership program', in Johnson G; Dempster N (ed.), Leadership in diverse learning contexts, Springer, pp. 389 - 408, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28302-9
2015
Balfour M, 2014, 'Performing the promised land: The festivalising of multi-cultures in the Margate Exodus Project', in Bennett A; Taylor J; Woodward I (ed.), Festivalisation of culture, Ashgate Press, pp. 207 - 228
2014
Balfour M; Woodrow N, 2013, 'On stitches', in Balfour M (ed.), Refugee performance: Practical encounters, Intellect, pp. 15 - 34
2013
Balfour ML, 2012, 'Refugee performance: Encounters with alterity', in Refugee Performance Practical Encounters, pp. 213 - 228
2012
Conference Abstracts
add
Balfour M, 2019, 'Shakespeare in prisons conference, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, Friday 23rd–25th March 2018', in Research in Drama Education, Vol. 24, pp. 209 - 210, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2018.1542295
2019
Edited Books
add
Balfour M; Bartleet B-L; Davey L; Rynne J; Schippers H, (eds.), 2019, Performing arts in prisons, Intellect, https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo40060231.html
2019
Journal articles
add
Hatton N; Dunn J; Balfour M, 2019, 'Editorial', Research in Drama Education, vol. 24, pp. 1 - 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2018.1548928
2019
Dunn J; Balfour M; Moyle W, 2019, 'Quality of life or ‘quality moments of life’: Considering the impact of relational clowning for people living with dementia', Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 24, pp. 38 - 52, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2018.1544889
2019
Balfour M, 2019, 'The difficult return: The arts and social health of returning military personnel. [Special edition: Arts and the military]', Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 62, pp. 61 - 67, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2018.11.003
2019
Balfour M; Sallis R, 2019, 'The tyranny of distance', Applied Theatre Research, vol. 7, pp. 3 - 6, http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/atr_00001_2
2019
Balfour M, 2018, 'Disobedient Theatre: Alternative Ways to Inspire, Animate and Play', APPLIED THEATRE RESEARCH, vol. 6, pp. 77 - 79, http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/atr.6.1.77_5
2018
Balfour M, 2017, 'Arts, activism and human rights [Special edition in partnership with Amnesty International]', Journal of Arts and Communities, vol. 8, pp. 75 - 92, http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jaac.8.1-2.3_2
2017
Balfour M, 2017, 'Performing Noncitizenship: Asylum Seekers in Australian Theatre, Film and Activism', CONTEMPORARY THEATRE REVIEW, vol. 27, pp. 418 - 420, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000416894500017&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2017
Balfour M; Stewart D, 2016, 'Perspectives and contexts of arts, social health and the military', Journal of Arts and Health, vol. 7, pp. 87 - 95, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17533015.2014.999247
2016
Balfour M, 2015, 'Humanitarian Performance from Disaster Tragedies to Spectacles of War', NEW THEATRE QUARTERLY, vol. 31, pp. 295 - 295, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266464X15000585
2015
Davey L; Day A; Balfour M, 2015, 'Performing desistance: How might theories of desistance from crime help us understand the possibilities of prison theatre?', International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, vol. 59, pp. 798 - 809, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306624X14529728
2015
Balfour M; Westwood M; Buchanan ML, 2014, 'Protecting into emotion: Therapeutic enactments with military veterans transitioning back into civilian life', Research in Drama Education, Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 19, pp. 165 - 181, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2014.911806
2014
Dunn J; Balfour M; Moyle W; Cooke M; Martin K; Crystal C; Yen A, 2013, 'Playfully engaging people living with dementia: Searching for Yum Cha moments', International Journal of Play, vol. 2, pp. 174 - 186, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21594937.2013.852052
2013
Balfour M, 2013, 'Acting Together Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict', PEACE REVIEW-A JOURNAL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, vol. 25, pp. 447 - 453, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10402659.2013.816574
2013
Balfour M, 2013, 'Fears of Loss, Tears of Joy: Raun Raun Theatre and Its Role in the Construction of a National Culture in Papua New Guinea', CONTEMPORARY THEATRE REVIEW, vol. 23, pp. 237 - 238, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10486801.2012.722799
2013
Balfour M, 2012, 'Mapping realities: Representing war through affective place making', New Theatre Quarterly, vol. 28, pp. 30 - 40, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266464X12000036
2012
Balfour M, 2012, 'Refugee performance: Encounters with alterity', Journal of Arts & Communities, vol. 2, pp. 177 - 195, http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jaac.2.3.177_1
2012
Balfour M, 2011, 'Theatre in co-communities: articulating power', RIDE-THE JOURNAL OF APPLIED THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE, vol. 16, pp. 127 - 130, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000287404800011&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2011
Balfour M, 2010, 'Reading Against the Orientalist Grain: Performance and Politics Entwined with a Buddhist Strain', NEW THEATRE QUARTERLY, vol. 26, pp. 395 - 396, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266464X10000709
2010
Balfour M, 2010, 'Developing the capacities of applied theatre students to be critically reflective learner-practitioners', Australasian Drama Studies, vol. 57, pp. 54 - 63
2010
Balfour M, 2009, 'The difficult return: Contexts and developments in drama-based work with returned military personnel', Applied Theatre Researcher/IDEA Journal, vol. 10, pp. 1 - 11
2009
Balfour M, 2009, 'The politics of intention: Looking for a theatre of little changes', Research in Drama Education: Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 14, pp. 347 - 359, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569780903072125
2009
Balfour M, 2007, 'Performing war: ‘Military theatre’ and the possibilities of resistance', Performance Paradigm, vol. 3, pp. 1 - 9
2007

2017 National Leadership in Arts and Health, Arts and Health National Awards.

2015 National Leadership in Arts and Health Research, Arts and Health National Awards.

2015 Nominated, The Return (Play) Prize for Distinctive Work in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Council of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS).

2013 Playful Engagement and Dementia, Creative Partnerships Australia Award.

2012 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Australian National Awards for University Teaching.

2011 National Teaching Excellence Award, Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

2018 Humanities Grant Development Fellowship ($6,000) Future Stories: emotion, empathy and social technologies. Exploring the affective benefits of immersive 360 video with children receiving palliative care services and their families.

2017 International Workshop Awards, Griffith University. Engaging the arts in ageing and wellbeing: Communities and care ($6,000).

2014 Collaborative Research Grant, Griffith University. Re-conceiving asylum seekers/refugees as transnational justice actors: Re-thinking practice and theory through creativity ($9,987).

2014 Strategic learning and teaching grant. The Twenty-first Century Academic: Re-imagining the life and work of academic staff to contribute to an enhanced university experience for staff and students ($50,000).

2013 Department of Immigration and Border Security. Traction and engagement project with young people from Logan ($50,000). Co-investigator with community agencies and Queensland Theatre Company.

2013 Australian Council of the Arts, Daughters of the Floating Brothel, ($20,000). Creative development of a verbatim project with women in corrections. Co-investigator with Woodland, S.

2012 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2012-2015). Playful engagement and dementia: assessing the efficacy of applied theatre practices for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities ($220,000).

2012 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2012-2015). Captive Audiences: The impact of performing arts programs in Australian prisons ($138,000).

2012 Collaborative Research Grant, Griffith University. The Boat House – Representing the Elders. Indigenous research, oral history and documentary theatre ($15,000).

2012 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching. Theatre Scope 2nd stage development ($14,000). Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2012-2013.

2011 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2011-2014). The difficult return: arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families. ($240,000). Principal investigator with Stewart, D., Nasveld, (University of Queensland) P., Fuery Chapman University, USA)

2011 Collaborative Research Scheme, Griffith University. The Boat House - Representing the Elders: indigenous research, oral history, and documentary theatre ($16,000).

2010 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2010-2013). Developing refugee resilience and effective resettlement through drama-based interventions ($80,000). Principal investigator with Burton, B Bundy, P and Dunn, J.

2010 Diverse Australia Grant (Department for Immigration and Citizenship) ‘Live Stories’ worked creatively and collaboratively with diverse community groups to enhance inter-ethnic dialogue and understanding ($33,000) Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2010-2011.

2009 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching Theatre Scope: Attainment, Access and Engagement. Developing sustainable responses to inclusion, diversity and student success through innovative and creative work-based learning initiatives ($50,000). Principal investigator with Woodland, S. 2009-2011.

2009 Leverhulme Trust. A three-year international research network grants to foster and develop partnerships with performance artists working in war zones (£88,000). Co-investigator with Thompson, J.

2008 Department of Immigration and Citizenship, in partnership with Refugee and Immigration Legal Services (RAILS) for a community based Citizenship Education Program. ($40,000).

2004 Arts and Humanities Research Council Major Research Grant (2004-2008). In Place of War (£390,000). Co-investigator with Thompson, J (Principal, University of Manchester).

Subject areas