Pilar Costa | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Pilar Costa

Project Title

Theatre and Performance Audiences and Urban Geography


Prof. Sally Mackey 


MA Queen Mary University of London. Dissertation: The Trajectory of the Festival of São João and the Inner Workings of Neoliberal Capitalism in Rural Northeast Brazil: A Case Study and a Critical Dissertation

BA (Hons), Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Rio de Janeiro. Dissertation: Violence and the State of Exception: A Case Study 


My research is about theatre and performance, urban geography and communities with low engagement with the arts. It aims to investigate cultural shifts and engagement with the arts/theatre and the city. My current focus is on the exchange between performers and audience within community-engaged performance practice. Cross-disciplinary in method, it places theatre and performance studies in the context of urban geography, aiming to analyse data collected from the Office for National Statistics. For the purpose of this study, I claim that a point of cultural intersection is of relevance for a theatre practitioner, a place that requires generosity in relation to others. It is from this internal perspective that I aim to investigate the relationship between art and the public.


I am a theatre maker, researcher and PhD candidate at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. I undertook a Master’s Degree at Queen Mary University of London, during which time I did a placement with People’s Palace Projects. Before that I worked for five years with a radical street theatre company: ‘Tá Na Rua’, based in Rio de Janeiro. I am the artistic director of theatre and performance Group Shakespirados, which is currently developing a project called ‘Water on Earth’. This project aims to research the preservation of the bioma and the conservation of water linked with arts practice. The Group Shakespirados work with young performers, directors and technicians in the Northeast of Brazil; with diverse audiences, from schools and traditional theatres to female prisons in both the North and South of the country. With this group I have co-created and performed a solo piece called ‘Diary of a Thief Woman’, based on the The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Oscar Wilde) and The Thief’s Journal (Jean Genet), which won the prize for best direction at the XVII National Festival of Monologues in 2009. As artistic director, I have also collaborated with companies such as Harem de Teatro (BR), Teatro Extremo (Portugal) and Unfinished Business (UK). 


2015 Theatre workshop facilitator, Water on Earth, Group Shakespirados, Brasil

2015 Assistant director and performer, A Festa, Festival Lusofano, Brasil

2014 Artist researcher, Encounters, People Palace Projects, UK

2014 Practice-based researcher and solo performer, Sorry, UK

2013 Assistant direction (volunteer), Only Wolves And Lions, participatory performance project at The Junction Cambridge, UK

2013 Co-creator and performer, Memory, Shut Your Mouth! (Memória Cala-te Já!), Brasil

2012 Theatre workshop facilitator, Homegrown, 18 - 25 Drop-in Sessions: Leo Kay at Battersea Arts Centre, UK

2012 Practice-based researcher and solo performer, Hot House, Circus North artist development programme, UK

2012 Artist assistant and language interpreter, Rio Occupation London, UK

2012 Organiser, “Festival Sementes – International Exhibition of Art for Small Public”, Portugal

2007/2011 Assistant director and solo performer, Diary of a Female Thief, Shakespirados, Brasil

Teaching areas/expertise

Theatre and performance studies

Community engaged performance practice