Dr Selina Busby, BA, PGCE, MA, PhD | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Dr Selina Busby, BA, PGCE, MA, PhD

Job title

Principal Lecturer, Course Leader MA Applied Theatre, Course Leader PG Cert Applied Theatre with Young People.


In 2018, I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of the impact I have made on both students and the teaching profession. I am an academic and theatre practitioner who makes performances with community groups. At Central, I am a principal lecturer in Applied Theatre, teaching on both the BA Drama, Applied Theatre and Education and the MA Applied Theatre courses. After studying at Middlesex University, I worked as a drama teacher in a further education college as well as in schools and prisons. I have also taught at both Buckingham Chiltern University College and Royal Holloway University of London as well as at Central on the PGCE.

My research and practice focuses on theatre that invites the possibility of change, both in contemporary plays and in participatory performance. My doctoral thesis looked at the representation of dysfunctional families on the British stage between 1993 and 2001. As a practitioner, I work in prison settings, youth theatres, and with young people living in adverse conditions both in the UK and internationally. Current projects include work with communities who live in India, shelter dwelling youth in New York, hard-to-reach young people, and those in the prison system. I am currently writing a book which theorises my practice and the ethics which have underpinned over 25 years of working in applied theatre contexts. 

I have given keynotes and lectures about my research at Central St Martins, London, The National Institute for Performing Arts and Music, Barcelona, Westminster College, Utah, The Korean University of the Arts and The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. In 2014 I was awarded funding from Creative Works London to work with Clean Break on a research project investigating and evaluating the success of their work with women who have experience of the criminal justice system. I am currently working on research projects in partnership with both Synergy Theatre Project and Pan Intercultural Arts in the UK. Since 2015 I have been an advisor on the development of a PG Cert in Applied Theatre at The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.


Drama, Applied Theatre and Education, BA

Applied Theatre With Young People, PG Certificate

Applied Theatre, MA

Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD)

Teaching Areas

  • Applied & Community Theatre
  • Young people's theatre
  • Prison theatre
  • International collaboration
  • Drama Pedagogy

Research Areas

  • Applied & Community Theatre in a range of settings
  • British Theatre of the 1990s
  • Contemporary Political Theatre

PHD Supervision

I supervise and examine PhD projects on contemporary British theatre, and in a range of applied theatre contexts that include work with those who have experience of the criminal justice system, marginalised youth and street dwellers.

Key Publications

2018. ‘Streets, Bridges, Cul-de-sacs and Dreams: Does inviting shelter-dwelling youth to work with culture industry professionals engender a sense of cruel optimism?’Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre; 23.2 pp 355-372

2017. 'Finding a Concrete Utopia in the Dystopia of a 'sub-city' Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22.1

2015. ‘A Pedagogy of UtopiaResearch In Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20.3. pp 413-416.

2015. ‘Celebrating Success: How has participation in Clean Break’s Theatre Education Programme contributed to Individuals’ Involvement in Professional or Community Arts Practices? with Dr N. Abraham.


I am an advisor and partner in Crossing Bridges a project that brings together the youth of Covenant Houses’ New York homeless shelter and Broadway artists twice a year to make theatre.

Since 2018, I have worked in partnership with the British Council on their People-to-People project with artists and practitioners in the Baltic States and in Central Europe to create theatre that uses stories from the community, to strengthen social cohesion and promote co-creation in and between different groups.

Since 2007, I have worked closely with Divya Bhatia, a partner in India to support projects with several schools, NGOs, and disadvantaged youth in Mumbai and in Delhi at a care home for young women. One of the projects in India that takes place with young slum dwellers in Dharavi was the subject of an article in The Times Higher Education Supplement and accompanying podcast. In 2016 this project was nominated for The Times Higher Education award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Find out more about Concrete Utopias in Dharavi

Register of Interest

Nothing to declare.