Jo Ronan | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Jo Ronan

Project Title

Collective Ownership, Capital and Creating Performance: Developing a Sense of Ownership in Collaborative Theatre Practice


Dr. Gareth White


MA Actor Training & Coaching (distinction), The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (RCSSD), 2009 

BA Dramatic Studies, Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), 1995 

Diploma in Education, National Institute of Education, Singapore, 1987

BA English Literature and Sociology, National University of Singapore, 1986


My thesis interrogates the concepts of ownership, capital, collectivism, collaboration and artistic vision in theatre-making today. It employs a Marxist framework in developing a dialectical relationship between process and product enabling renewed definitions for the ownership of theatrical artefacts. BloodWater Theatre, a practice-based research ensemble was formed in February 2011 to test new ways of making theatre through its productions, Whose Story Is It Anyway staged at the Tron Theatre and Leave Your Shoes at the Door staged at the CCA. Collaboration was problematized through Marx’s theories of capital and cooperation in developing rehearsal pedagogy premised on ownership. Marx’s construction of capital in terms of commodity and labour power was used to explore the value of labour in the creation and ownership of performance.  Ways of working with and against the system were worked through theoretically and practically.  Cooperation intrinsic to Marx’s formulation of capital was deconstructed enabling a radicalisation of division of labour and specialisation in collaborative practice. The interrogation of Marxist concepts through practice resulted in a unique form of collaboration which I have named Dialectical Collaborative Theatre. 


I come from an academic and practice-based background with undergraduate degrees from the National University of Singapore (English and Sociology) and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Drama), a postgraduate diploma (Education) from the National Institute of Education of Singapore and an MA (Actor Training and Coaching) from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. I teach acting/performance, applied theatre, direct productions and supervise honours year theatre and film dissertations on the Performance programme at the University of the West of Scotland. I am committed to researching and practicing radical theatre pedagogy where the politicisation of performance training is made explicit alongside developing my research interests in exploring intersections between professional and community performance. I was Associate Director with 7:84 (Scotland) directing productions like The Algebra of Freedom by Raman Mundair, inspired by the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and Re: Union by McCartney, Sharma, Dimitrevic and McClean, four short plays marking the Act of Union of 1707.  I pioneered new writing in Singapore, co-founding The Necessary Stage Theatre Company in 1987 and was its associate director till 1994 when I settled in Scotland. My recent conference papers have included, Dialectical Collaborative Theatre presented at The European League of Institutes of the Arts conference in Glasgow and In Conversation with Fatima Rateb presented at The Theatre and Performance Research Association conference at Royal Holloway in London. I am currently external examiner for the BA (Hons) Theatre and Professional Practice programme at the University of Bedfordshire.


As part of my doctoral research, I founded a collective of seven artists called BloodWater Theatre (BWT) to test if it were possible to put ownership at the centre of collaborative theatre practice.  To ensure that the results of this experiment would be viable in the real world, the practice had to be tested in professional theatre venues.  BWT developed Whose Story Is It Anyway (WSA), a devised work about five fictional artists who come together for five days to test the possibilities of aesthetic ownership of theatre processes.  BWT staged two performances of WSA to an invited audience at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow on the 15th of October 2011.  Following this, BWT produced two ticketed performances of Leave Your Shoes at the Door (LYSD) about the same fictional artists who return to Glasgow fifteen months later to produce a play in five days without a director.  LYSD was staged at the CCA in Glasgow on the 31st of January 2014 with the audience having the choice of paying £0, £2, £5, £8 or £10 for their ticket.

Conference Presentations

2015 ‘Practice as Research’, Performing Methodologies seminar, University of the West of Scotland

2014 ‘Dialectical Collaborative Theatre’, ELIA conference, Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

2014 ‘In Conversation with Fatima Rateb’, TaPRA conference, Royal Holloway, University of London

2013 ‘Politics of Transmission – Dialogue between the Unsighted Student the Sighted Tutor’, TaPRA Conference, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and University of Glasgow

2013 ‘(Concept ÷ Dialectics) + (Practice ÷ Dialectics) = Praxis = Practice as Research; the Artist in Search of Truth’, Intersections Colloquium of Performance Research, RCSSD

2012 ‘Intersections between Actor Training and Applied Theatre’, Applied Theatre Conference, Alchemy in Unlikely Situations, York Saint John

Teaching areas/expertise

Collaborative modes of theatre-making

Specialist in the practice of Augusto Boal, training received at Cardboard Citizens (London) and The Necessary Stage (Singapore)

Experienced in the practice of Brecht, Lecoq, Grotowski, Artaud, Meisner, Michael Chekov, and Stanislavski

Experienced in Applied Theatre, Theatre in Education and Drama in Education