Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance



Dr Melissa Trimingham (Director Autumn 2017)

Melissa Trimingham is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Kent and Director of Practice as Research in the Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance. She researches cognitive approaches to scenography, puppetry and costume and has published on scenography in applied theatre with autistic children. She has also published extensively on the Bauhaus stage and Modernism. As Co-Investigator on the AHRC project ‘Imagining Autism: Drama, Performance and Intermediality as Interventions for Autistic Spectrum Conditions’ (2011-2014) she designed, built and performed in the drama environments using puppetry, masks, costumes, sound, light and projection.


Prof Nicola Shaughnessy (Director Spring/Summer 2018)

Nicola Shaughnessy is Professor of Performance with research and teaching specialisms in contemporary performance, autobiography, applied and socially engaged theatre. She founded Kent’s Research Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance, led the AHRC funded project “Imagining Autism” and is co-editor of Methuen’s Performance and Science series. Nicki’s teaching and research integrates theory and practice, ethics and aesthetics in interdisciplinary contexts.  Her current research brings her into dialogue with psychologists and neuroscientists through projects on drama and developmental psychopathology (e.g. autism and dementia). Complementing this is an ongoing pursuit and evaluation of the role of creative practice as embodied methodology and pedagogy.


Dr Shaun May

Shaun has a background in theatre and philosophy, and much of his work attempts to bring those two disciplines into fruitful dialogue with each other. Prior to joining the faculty at Kent he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool, and he previously taught at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
He is the author of two monographs, A Philosophy of Comedy on Stage and Screen and Rethinking Practice as Research and the Cognitive Turn, published by Bloomsbury and Palgrave respectively. He was Primary Investigator on the BA/Leverhulme funded project Comedy on the Spectrum: Exploring Humour Production in Adolescents with Autism, and organiser of the Autism Arts Festival which was funded by Arts Council England.


Roanna Mitchell

Roanna works as a movement director and performance-maker in the UK and internationally and as a lecturer at Kent. Her research interests include body politics and embodied cognition in actor training, and contemporary approaches to training for performance in the intersections between dance and theatre. She is co-investigator on the ‘Devising and Catalyst Direction’ strand of the ‘Michael Chekov Training in the 21st Century: New Pathways’ research project, and a founding member of The Chekhov Collective. Roanna has published on the student actor’s aesthetic labour, and on crises of the body in actor training. Roanna also works as artistic director and coordinator for the local-global organization Endangered Bodies, convened by Dr Susie Orbach.​

Angeliki Varakis-Martin

Angie is a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre an ongoing research interest in the work of Greek theatre director Karolos Koun and his contribution towards the creation of a modern Greek tradition in the staging of Greek theatre, particularly Aristophanic comedy. She is also exploring the applicability of various acting techniques to Greek theatre with a special interest in masked acting. The performer’s perspective is a key aspect of my current research on ‘acting Greek theatre’.


Dr Freya Vass-Rhee

Freya Vass-Rhee is a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre with a specialization in dance/physical theatre studies and performance. Her primary research interests include cognitive dance and theatre studies, postdramatic physical theatre practices, visuo-sonority in contemporary dance, dramaturgy, and arts/sciences interdisciplinarity. Following a professional dance career, Freya studied Linguistics and Cognitive Science (UCLA) before completing an interdisciplinary PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. From 2011 to 2015, Freya was an Associate Researcher with the Dance Engaging Science workgroup of the Motion Bank project (The Forsythe Company, Frankfurt). Freya has served as Dramaturg and Production Assistant to choreographer William Forsythe (2006-13) and also freelances as Dramaturg. Her research has appeared in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance (forthcoming), William Forsythe and the Practice of Choreography (Routledge), Theater Without Vanishing Points (Alexander Verlag), Dance Dramaturgy: Modes of Agency, Awareness and Engagement (Palgrave), and Dance Chronicle. She is currently writing a monograph on perceptual performativity focused on William Forsythe’s works and working methods.


Dr Rocio Von Jungenfled

Rocio is a Lecturer in Digital Media. Her research is concerned with the use of media in the production of creative outputs. With focus on contemporary media art, portability, interactive and mediated environments, participation in public space, perception and media projections. Her current research projects include the display and performance of creative media in public space and participation, perception and play in interactive environments.

Ania Bobrowicz

Ania first graduated with a degree in Applied Linguistics before taking an MSc in Multimedia Systems. She is now a lecturer in Multimedia Technology and Design at Kent. She teaches visual communication, interaction design and digital art and has interets in Human-computer interaction, new media, visual communication, and social movements.


Prof David Williams

David’s research focuses on various forms of developmental psychopathology, including autism spectrum disorder and specific language impairment. He is interested in understanding the nature and neuro-cognitive bases of developmental disorders, as well as what these disorders tell us about typical development. For his research into metacognition in autism spectrum disorder, he was given the prestigious 2010 Young Investigator award by the International Society for Autism Research.  He is Associate Editor of the journals Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Autism and Developmental Language Impairments.

Associate Members 


Dr Julie Beadle Brown


Dr Jeremy Scott (English Language & Linguistics, University of Kent)


Prof Murray Smith (Film, University of Kent)


Prof David Wilkinson (Psychology, University of Kent)




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Last Updated: 19/10/2017