Chair and Professor, Applied Theatre, School of Education and Professional Studies
Michael Balfour is a multi-award winning university researcher and teacher. Michael’s research is in the social applications of theatre. He has worked on international studies exploring arts–based work with returning veterans, performances in sites of war and conflict, performing arts practice in prisons and correctional facilities, and with newly arrived refugees in Australia. In 2013, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, he was the recipient of a Creative Partnerships Award for an arts project working with people with mid-to-late stage dementia.
Research expertiseMichael’s research expertise is in the social applications of theatre – theatre in communities, social institutions and areas of disadvantage and conflict. His specialist areas of research include:
- Arts practice in sites of war and conflict
- Prison Theatre
- Arts-based work with returning military personnel
- Play and dementia
- Drama work with participants from a refugee background
- Documentary theatre
Current teaching areas
- Theatre lab
- Performance essay
- Postgraduate supervision and teaching
Current postgraduate students
- Linda Davey, PhD. Awarded a GU scholarship.
- Jenny Penton, PhD. Awarded a GU scholarship.
- Sarah Woodland PhD.
- Penny Glass PhD. Awarded a GU scholarship.
- Natalie Lazaroo, PhD. Awarded a GU scholarship.
- Craig Wood, PhD.
- Playful Engagement and Dementia, Creative Partnerships Australia Award 2013 (Qld).
- Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, Australian Awards for University Teaching, 2012
- Nominated, Vice Chancellor Senior Researcher Award 2012
- Winner, Pro-Vice Chancellor Senior Researcher Award 2011
- National winner, Australian Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities and the Arts 2011
- Inaugural member, Griffith Academy of Learning and Teaching Scholars, 2010
- Pro-Vice Chancellor Arts, Education and Law, Research Group Award, 2010
- Balfour, M., Burton, B, Bundy, P, Dunn, J., Woodrow, N. (2015) Applied Theatre: Resettlement: Drama, Refugees and Resilience, Methuen (in press).
- Balfour, M. (Ed.) (2013) Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters, Intellect Press.
- Thompson, J., Hughes, J., & Balfour, M. (2009) Performance: In Place of War. Seagull Press/University of Chicago Press.
- Balfour, M.(co-edited with Somers, J), (2006). Drama as Social Intervention. Captus Press.
- Balfour, M. (2004). Prison Theatre: Theory and Practice. Intellect.
- Balfour, M. (2003). The Use of Drama in the Rehabilitation of Violent Male Offenders. Edwin Mellen Press.
- Balfour, M. (Ed.) (2001) Theatre and War: Performance in extremis 1934-1945; Berghahn Books.
Recent and forthcoming articles (selected)
- Balfour, M. (2015 in press) The art of facilitation: Tain’t what you do (it’s the way that you do it), in Sheila Preston (Ed.) Applied Theatre: Facilitation, London: Methuen.
- Balfour, M. (2015 in press) ‘War Songs: making music with veteran and military communities’ in Lee Higgins and Brydie Leigh-Bartleet (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Community Music, Oxford University Press.
- Hassall, L and Balfour, M. (2015 in press). Transitioning Home: research-based theatre with returning servicemen and their families, in George Belliveau and Graham Lea (Eds.) Research-Based Theatre, Bristol: Intellect.
- Balfour, M. and Stewart, D. (Eds.) (2015) The art of war: arts, social health and the military, Special Edition Journal of Arts and Health
- Davey, L., Day, A., Balfour, M. (2014) ‘Performing Desistance:How might theories of desistance from crime help us to understand the possibilities of prison theatre?’ The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 0306624X14529728.
- Balfour, M., Westwood, M., Buchanan, M. (2014) ‘Protecting into emotion: therapeutic enactments with military veterans transitioning back into civilian life, Research in Drama Education,10.
- Dunn, J., Balfour, M., Moyle, W., Cooke, M., Martin, K., Crystal, C., & Yen, A. (2013). Playfully engaging people living with dementia: searching for Yum Cha moments. International Journal of Play, 2(3).
- Balfour, M. (2012) ‘Creative ecologies: multi-arts approaches to resilience for newly arrived refugees’, 7arakat Conference: Theatre, Cultural Diversity And Inclusion e-proceedings, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
- Balfour, M. (2012) ‘Mapping realities: representing war through affective place making’, New Theatre Quarterly, 2(1).
- Balfour, M. (2010) The Difficult Return: Contexts and Developments in Drama-Based Work with Returned Military Personnel, Applied Theatre Researcher, 10.
- Balfour, M. (2010) Developing the capacities of applied theatre students to be critically reflective learner-practitioners, Australasian Drama Studies.
- Balfour, M. (2009) The politics of intention: looking for a theatre of little changes, Research in Drama Education. 14.3.
Recent and forthcoming book chapters
- Balfour, M. (2015) The difficult return: supporting returning veterans through an arts-based social leadership program, in Leadership for Learning and Effective Change, Neil Dempster and Greer Johnson (eds), Springer Books.
- Balfour, M. (2015) A fragile dance: art and place making in times of war and not war, in Mike Fleming, Looira Bresler, John O’Toole (Eds) The Routledge International Handbook of the Arts and Education, London: Routledge (in press).
- Balfour, M. (2014) Performing the promised land: the festivalising of multi-cultures in the Margate Exodus Project, in A.Bennett, I. Woodward and J.Taylor (eds.) Festivalisation of Culture, Ashgate Press.
- Whyte, T., Matthews, C., Balfour, M. (2014 in press) ‘The Boat House’ – Representing the Elders: Indigenous research, oral history and documentary theatre, in Robert Mason and Janet McDonald (eds) Creative Communities: Regional Social Inclusion and the Arts, Intellect.
- Balfour, M. (2013) ‘Refugee performance: encounters with alterity’, in M.Balfour (ed) Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters, Intellect.
- Balfour, M. and Woodrow, N. (2013) On Stitches, in M. Balfour (ed) Refugee Performance: Practical Encounters, Intellect.
Recent research grants
- 2014 AEL Collaborative Research Grant Re-conceiving asylum seekers/refugees as transnational justice actors: Re-thinking practice and theory through creativity ($9,987). CI Simic and Balfour.
- 2012-2015 ARC Linkage ‘Playful engagement and dementia: assessing the efficacy of applied theatre practices for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities’ ($200,000). Lead CI with interdisciplinary GU team.
- 2011-2014 ARC Linkage ‘Captive Audiences: The impact of performing arts programs in Australian prisons’ ($80,000) CI with interdisciplinary GU team.
- 2012 AEL Collaborative Research Grant ($15,000) The Boat House – Representing the Elders. Indigenous research, oral history and documentary theatre.
- 2010-2013 ARC Discovery ‘The difficult return: arts-based approaches to mental health literacy and building resilience with recently returned military personnel and their families’. ($240,000) Lead CI with GU, University of Queensland, and Chapman University (USA).
Recent teaching grants
- 2014 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching. Strategic Group/Discipline based project ($50,000) The Twenty-first Century Academic: Re-imagining the life and work of academic staff to contribute to an enhanced university experience for staff and students. CI Harrison, Balfour, Baker, Carey.
- 2013 Department of Immigration and Border Security (50,000) In partnership with Logan community agencies and Queensland Theatre Company.
- 2013 Australian Council of the Arts (20,000) Creative development of a verbatim project with women in corrections.
- 2012 Griffith Grants for Learning and Teaching. Strategic Group/Discipline based project ($14,000) Theatre Scope 2nd stage development.
- Keynote: Theatre, conflict and the social: making theatre in a post-political context, Rethinking Political Theatre in Western Culture, Tel Aviv University, March 2-4, 2015.
- ‘Yum-cha moments: Playful engagement and dementia with residents in an aged care facility’, The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing, International Arts and Health Conference, University of New South Wales, 12-15th November 2013.
- Keynote: ‘The art of return: researching arts-based practices that seek to support military personnel and their families in the transition from military to civilian life after recent conflicts’. International Symposium, Critical Journeys in Applied Theatre, University of Auckland, 24th-25th October 2013.
- ‘The Soldier’s Return: the art of peace building with returning veterans’, A better world is possible: Peace and Justice in the Globalised World, International Peace Research Association, Mie University, Japan, 26th November 2012.
- Keynote: ‘Creative ecologies: multi-arts approaches to resilience for newly arrived refugees’,7arakat Conference: Theatre, Cultural Diversity And Inclusion, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 2nd November 2012.
- ‘Arts-based approaches to work with returned Military personnel with trauma-related conditions’, Creative Communities 3, Risks and Possibilities, Gold Coast, 27th September 2012.
- The Return writer/director Linda Hassall. Producer/research: Michael Balfour. Documentary play based with ex-servicemen and actor. BEMAC Theatre, Brisbane 26 and 26 June 2014.
- Balfour, M. (2013) Alison Jeffers, Refugees, theatre and crisis. Applied Theatre Research, 12, Intellect.
- Balfour, M. (2013): Fears of Loss, Tears of Joy: Raun Raun Theatre and Its Role in the Construction of a National Culture in Papua New Guinea, Contemporary Theatre Review, 22.
- Balfour, M. (extended 3,000 word review) (2013) Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, Polly O. Walker (Eds.) Acting Together Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict Volume 1: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence; Volume 2: Building Just and Inclusive Communities. Peace Review, Volume 24, Issue 4, Routledge. 447-453.
- Jen Harvie, Michael Balfour , Ralph Yarrow & John O'Toole (2011): Publications, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 16:1, 125-142.