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Prof Alex Sutherland

Picture by: Paul Greenway/3Pphotography

Research Assosiate

Degree | Masters in Education, Rhodes University (awarded with distinction), 2005


| Honours in Drama Studies (awarded cum laude 1995), Honours in Psychology (1994) University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg


Alexandra Sutherland (MEd., Rhodes University) (Honours-Psychology, University of Natal)(Honours- Drama Studies, University of Natal)


Her theoretical interests include British theatre and radical social criticism; how post-colonialism is performed; gender, race and performance; and theatre as/in social change. Her teaching, research and community engagement activities focus broadly on the creation of play and performance spaces within institutional settings as a way to generate alternative physical, social, emotional and political modes of expression and representation. She established the Art of the Street project (2003-2009) with street involved youth, resulting in commissions for the National Arts Festival main programme and the first African youth theatre group selected to perform at the Contacting the World theatre Festival in Manchester, UK (2006). Her current practical and research focus involves the social and aesthetic meanings of performance in criminal justice settings, and the possibilities of performance and play in psychiatric institutions. Her research is published in local and international journals. and she is the 2012 winner of Rhodes University vice-chancellor’s award for community engagement.


Employment History:


2001- 2015: Lecturer, Rhodes University Drama Department


2000: Contract tutor (play-making and voice), University of the Witwatersrand


1998-2000: Dance Development Manager, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds, UK



Professional Achievements: 2012 winner of Rhodes University vice-chancellor’s award for community engagement.


Creative work:


January 2010 – 2013, director of ‘Performing Change’, a practice as research project which investigates the development of a theatre methodology with adults in forensic settings.  This involves running weekly theatre making workshops (since January 2010) with the Grahamstown correctional centre performing arts group, and from May 2012,a theatre group at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital forensic wards.


2009- 2011: Co-Director  for The Amazing ‘other’ show, commissioned by the Dean of Students office at RU to address issues of identity for incoming first year students.


March – July 2009:  Co- director for Float, a collaboration between a Grahamstown youth theatre company (Art of the Street) and Lusaka based Barefeet Theatre.  6 site specific devised works were performed as part of the street theatre festival at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, 2009.


Research Activity:


Academic Articles


Sutherland, A. (2015). Disturbing masculinity: Gender, performance and ‘violent’ men. South African Theatre Journal. Vol 28 (1): 68-77.


Sutherland, A (2014). Narrative,/therapy and an apartheid story: audiences, ethical witnessing and power. In H. Barnes and M-H Coetzee (Eds). Applied Drama/Theatre as social intervention in conflict and post-conflict contexts.  Cambridge press.


Sutherland, A. (2014). Dramatic spaces in patriarchal contexts: Constructions and disruptions of gender in theatre interventions about HIV.  In H. Barnes, (Ed) Applied Drama and Theatre as an Interdisciplinary Field in the context of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Amsterdam, Rodopi: 178-186


Sutherland, A (2013).  Now we are real women: Playing with gender in a male prison theatre programme in South Africa.  Research in Drama Education:  The journal of applied theatre and performance. Vol 18 (2): 120-132


Sutherland, A. (2011). The role of theatre and embodied knowledge in addressing race in South African higher education. Studies in Higher Education :1-13


Sutherland, A (2007) Writing and performing change:  the use of writing journals to promote reflexivity in a Drama Studies curriculum. South African Theatre Journal. Vol 19:  109-122.


Sutherland, A (2005) Making visible the invisible: Drama as voice for youth at risk in a South African context. In L. McCammon & D. McLauchlan (Eds.) Universal Mosaic of Drama and Theatre: The IDEA 2004 Dialogues. Vancouver, Idea publications.


Conference presentations (last 5 years)


October 2014: Paper presented at the Performing the Word Conference, New York: The meaning of performance in forensic psychiatry: from the personal to the political.


July 2014: Paper presented at the Healing and Transformation in Mental Health Care in South Africa, Conversing, Connecting and Collaborating across Arts Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Allied Psychotherapies, University of Cape Town. The Fort England Psychiatric Hospital theatre project: an interdisciplinary conversation (with Lauren Fike and Bongisa Shumane).


November 2013: Paper presented at the DFL Africa Research conference, ‘The unfinished business of truth and reconciliation: arts, trauma and healing’: Disturbing masculinity: Gender, performance and ‘violent’ men.


June 2013: Panel presentation (Theatre and Social Change) and Master Class in Theatre Practice presented at the ‘New Directions in South African Theatre today’ symposium at the University of Toulouse, France.


November 2012:  Paper presented at the Drama for Life African Research Conference at the University of Pretoria: Narrative/Therapy and an apartheid story:  audiences, ethical witnessing and power.


October 2012: Paper and workshop presented at the Performing the World Conference , East Side Institute, New York: Releasing performances:  A South African prison theatre experience.


November 2011:  Paper and workshop presented (with Professor A Buckland)at the DFL African research conference, Wits, South Africa: Exploring space, place and power through an applied theatre praxis.


email | a.sutherland@ru.ac.za


for more information on Alex visit our drama reviews.


Updated 28-02-18 SM


Last Modified: Wed, 28 Feb 2018 14:43:03 SAST