David Shearing | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Dr David Shearing , BA, MA, PhD, FHEA

Job title

Lecturer in Performing Arts


I am a performance maker and academic creating and researching immersive multimedia environments and spaces. I am interested in how people and audiences engage both physically and conceptually with performance, design and materials. I have an interest in how material and spatial practices can transform everyday behaviours and situations. I make and research work that takes place in theatre spaces and in applied performance contexts. I explore audience engagement by creating intimate, and at times spectacular, art and performance installations using video, sound and organic materials.

I studied for a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts (University of Winchester) and an MA Performance Design and Practice (Central Saint Martins). I completed my practice-led doctorate at the University of Leeds, School of Performance and Cultural Industries in 2015. Thesis title: ‘Audience Immersion and the Experience of Scenography’. Through three cycles of practice-led enquiry I sought to uncover how audiences might become immersed in design through sustained relational encounters between materials, objects, people and space. In 2017 I was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow for Performing Mountains, a 24-month AHRC fellowship project led by Professor Jonathan Pitches.

I have presented over 30 paper and research presentations at a variety of conference events and public contexts, I have given lectures and workshops in the UK and Internationally including; the Royal College of Art, Tate Britain (Public event on science and weather with the Royal Meteorological Society), Foundling Museum, Queen Mary University of London, Prague Quadrennial of Space and Design, Society of British Theatre Designers, Association of Lighting Designers. I have exhibited my work(ing) in New York, Taipei, Prague and Chile.


Leeds Compassionate City Award - Art Project of the Year (2018) – Nomination

Alternative Design ‘The Weather Machine’, World Stage Design (2017) - Silver Award

Sky Academy Arts Scholarship (2014) - Winner

Installation Design, and it all comes down to this…, World Stage Design (2013) – Gold Award


2019-   Co-convenor TaPRA Scenography Working Group

2018-   Committee member Society of British Theatre Designers

2016-2018  Leeds 2023 Engagement Committee Member


Performance Arts, BA

Drama, Applied Theatre and Education, BA

Scenography, MA/MFA

Teaching Areas

  • Participation and Audience Engagement
  • Performance Technologies and Multimedia
  • Audience Immersion and the Senses
  • Devised Contemporary Performance Making
  • Experiential Dramaturgies

Research Areas  

  • Contemporary Performance Making
  • Scenography and Performance Design

PHD Supervision 

  • Practice Research
  • Applied Performance and Design 
  • Audience Engagement and Experience
  • Multimedia Performance and Technology
  • Ecology, Climate and Atmosphere

Key Publications 

2019. ‘Black Rock: Routes Through Scenographic Translation, from Mountain Climbing to Performance’ in On Mountains edited by Jonathan Pitches and David Shearing, (Performance Research). Volume 24 Issues 3.  

2019. Co-editor, On Mountains, edited by Jonathan Pitches and David Shearing, (Performance Research), Volume 24 Issues 3. 

2018. ‘An Ecological Approach to Performance Design’, in Journal for the Society of British Theatre Designers, edited by Greer Crawley, Issue 2.

2017. ‘Audience Immersion, Mindfulness and the Experience of Scenography’, in Scenography Expanded: An Introduction to Contemporary Performance Design, edited by Joslin McKinney and Scott Palmer. (London: Bloomsbury Methuen), pp 139-154.

2015. ‘The Weather of Scenography’, in Journal for the Society of British Theatre Designers, edited by Greer Crawley, Issue 2.

2015. ‘Immersive performance: the voyeur within’, in Theatre as Voyeurism: The Pleasure(s) of watching edited by George Rodosthenous. (Palgrave Macmillan), pp 71-87

2014. Scenographic Landscapes, Studies in Theatre and Performance, (Routledge), pp 1-15.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14682761.2013.877291 

2013. 'This rise of immersive theatre puts design in the spotlight', World Stage Design.


2017. Black Rock, University of Leeds, Arts Council England, Kendal Mountain Festival: Exhibition Finalist for Society of British Theatre Designers (V&A) 

2017. Incredible Things, city wide engagement project and artistic manifesto, Leeds 2023, Arts Council England.

2016. The Weather Café, Leeds Inspired, Arts Council England, AHRC University of Leeds engagement funding.

2015. The Weather Machine, an immersive multi-media performance, West Yorkshire Playhouse, stage@leeds, Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, Arts Council England. Melvin Bragg Sky Arts Film.

2012. and it all comes down to this…, stage@leeds, performance installation, winner of World Stage Design award for Best Installation, Arts Council England.

Register of Interest 

Nothing to declare.