Personal profile


I studied for a BA (Double Hons) degree in Drama and English at the University of Manchester, before becoming a freelance practitioner, working as a theatre director, teacher, writer and facilitator in community settings. From 1998 – 2003 I was Director of Theatre Education at Mind the Gap theatre company in Bradford, running the company’s innovative training programmes in professional theatre for adults with learning disabilities. From 2002 – 2009 I also performed as Smiley Smacko of The Pierrotters, Britain’s last remaining seaside pierrot troupe.

My research has related to my professional practices. In 2014 I was awarded an MA by the University of Huddersfield for research into the history of two types of performance troupe: the British seaside pierrot; and the Rat Pack in America. I achieved a PhD by Published Work at the University of Warwick in 2017 based on a series of articles and book chapters about learning disabled performers. From 2012 - 2016 I was a co-convenor for the Applied and Social Theatre working group at the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA). 

Since joining the University of Huddersfield in 2005 I have maintained ongoing links with the theatre industry mostly through memberships of company boards, including Promenade Promotions and Chol Theatre. From 2011 – 2013 I was an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England, focussing on street theatre and Disability Arts. I am currently Chair of Trustees for Huddersfield's Dark Horse theatre company, and a trustee of Holmfirth Arts Festival.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Learning disabled performance / performers
  • The history of Disability Arts
  • Theatre of the Oppressed
  • Applied Theatre practices
  • The Pierrot tradition
  • The Rat Pack and / or any of its individual members


  • Learning Disabled Performance
  • The Rat Pack
  • The Pierrot Tradition
  • Applied Theatre Practices

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

learning disability Social Sciences
performance Social Sciences
social intervention Social Sciences
aesthetics Social Sciences
joke Social Sciences
alienation Social Sciences
ambivalence Social Sciences
Arte Social Sciences

Research Output 2009 2017

  • 9 Article
  • 3 Book/Film/Article review
  • 2 Chapter

Book Review: 'Disability Theatre and Modern Drama: Recasting Modernism' by Kirsty Johnston

Calvert, D. Feb 2017 In : New Theatre Quarterly. 33, 1, p. 92-93 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Open Access

Book Review: 'Applied Theatre - Aesthetics' by Gareth White

Calvert, D. May 2016 In : New Theatre Quarterly. 32, 2, p. 199-200 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Open Access

Jokes as performance text: a close reading of Rat Pack banter

Calvert, D. 2 Jan 2016 In : Comedy Studies. 7, 1, p. 38-47 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Close Reading
1 Citations

‘Everything Has a Fucking Value’: Negative Dialectics in the Work of Back to Back Theatre

Calvert, D. 2 Apr 2016 In : Contemporary Theatre Review. 26, 2, p. 134-152 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Activities 2014 2017

  • 3 Oral presentation
  • 2 Examination
  • 1 Membership of board

External Examiner

Calvert, D. (Examiner)

Activity: Examination

External Examiner

Calvert, D. (Examiner)

Activity: Examination

Dark Horse Theatre Company (External organisation)

Calvert, D. (Chair)
2016 → …

Activity: Membership of board

MASHED and SHAMED: A New Approach to the Acronym

Calvert, D. (Speaker)
9 May 2015

Activity: Oral presentation