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Communications, Drama and Film

Photo of Ms Fiona Macbeth

Ms Fiona Macbeth

Honorary Senior Research Fellow


From 2003 to 2018 Fiona worked at the University of Exeter as a Lecturer in Socially Engaged Theatre Practice. She taught at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate level and carried the management position of Director of Education in Drama for 3 years until 2018. She is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Drama. 

Prior to 2020 Fiona was a workshop facilitator, trainer, teacher and consultant for people working within education and health settings, university students, young people facing the challenges of the care system, elderly people in supported living and adults in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. She began her working life in 1988 as a drama facilitator and workshop leader for Leap Confronting Conflict, London. She and Nic Fine created the first training model for Youth and Conflict for the organisation.  Fiona and Nic spent time with innovative programmes in the USA in the 1990s, including CityKidsNY, Youth at Risk, the Alternatives to Violence programme in prisons and Young Mediators in Schools in Pennsylvania, exploring creative appraoches to conflict and violence. This research culminated in the publication of Playing with Fire : training for the creative use of conflict, 1995, New Society. Re-published in 2011 as Training for Those Working with Youth People in Conflict, 2nd edition. Jessica Kingsley.

In 2000, as a Research Fellow in The Peninsula Medical School, Fiona co-founded RAP: a sex and relationships programme for young people who have had a disrupted education. This programme was researched and developed with peer educators; young people who had themselves experienced disrupted education. The peer educators were in command of their own stories and used their understanding of disaffection to create relevance and meaning for their peers. The energy and focus of the young educators was often chaotic but for their learners it was compelling and relatable; a lesson for the researchers in how powerful intention communicates more than any amount of clarity.

During 2011, as part of a Connected Communities AHRC grant, Fiona worked with Clark Baim and a group of care leavers to explore what 'belonging' and 'community' could mean to those who have been ejected from their community. The personal stories of the group were held within an artistic frame, enabling a quality of sharing and reframing of experience that had a powerful and positive impact on the group members. The possibiity for change that emerges where personal narrative and fictional story intersect was strikingly clear. 

Between 2013 and 2017 Fiona was part of an annual training event with four other artist-facilitators - Stephen Langridge (director), Jan Hendrickse (musician), Stephen Plaice (writer) and Libby Worth (dancer)-  developing and running Training the Trainer workshops for Altana-Kluturstiftung, Germany. The training process was a vibrant exploration of the practice of collaboration within education work and was a wonderful experience of cross-disciplinary arts practice. The challenges and discoveries of this collaborative process cemented her commitment to developing her practice as an interactive storyteller. 

In collaboration with Dr Megan Alrutz Fiona devised an interactive, story-based approach to gathering local wisdom and sharing it within the community. The approach raises and responds to vital questions for our times. Fiona and Megan coined the term 'storytravelliing' to describe the blend of storytelling, personal narrative, facilitation and performance at the heart of Patchwork Stories. 

Fiona's path through youth work, education, facilitation and research has led to the creation of An Inside Story, an interactive story-based process enabling people to find words and images that stimulate greater understanding of the factors which affect our lives. This unique approach is a synthesis of skills, knowledge and passion grown through 30 years of faciltiation, training, teaching and collaboration with extraordinarily wonderful colleagues, artists and young people. 

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External impact and engagement

I run projects in schools, community settings and training environments. The following briefly outlines my work in these contexts.  

Perfectly Mixed Up is an integrated company of Masters students and young care leavers. More than the Sum was performed at the Cohen New Works Festival in Austin, Texas in March 2013. My work with care leavers is part of the topic of the TedX talk I gave in June 2012.

Patchwork Stories is both a research project gathering stories provoked by simple questions and an installation of stories and mending. In May 2014 a group of staff and students from UT, Austin worked alongside drama postgraduate students and community members to create the first installation of the project. In May 2015 my return visit to UT, Austin will provide the setting for the second installation.

Altana Kulturstiftung is an art education organisation based in Frankfurt. I am one of a team of 5 artists and trainers who run an intensive Training the Trainers course for practicing artists of all disciplines. The course provides a framework for artists to explore creative collaboration with each other prior to leading collaborative arts projects in schools.

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