Back to “Community & Applied Drama Lab (CADLab)”

Last Updated: February 20th 2019

As a Drama student at Newman, you have the opportunity to get involved with the Community & Applied Drama Lab (CADLab). CADLab was founded by Dr Persephone Sextou within Newman’s Drama department with an Entrepreneurship Award from HefCE & UnLtd in 2010.


Most of the CADLab projects are linked to research in the field of Applied Theatre and Wellbeing, evaluating theatre’s effectiveness in supporting the wellbeing of children, young people and those suffering from illness during their stay in hospital.

CADLab operates in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Trust, Heartlands Hospital NHS Trust and, Acorns Children’s hospices and has now performed to over 1000 children at their bedside.

Creative Health bookStudents with an interest in Applied Theatre and Wellbeing, Puppetry and Storytelling, Theatre and Society, Arts in Health & Wellbeing, Medical Humanities and, in the sister field of Dramatherapy, get the chance to work with professional actors, puppeteers and artists into a range of disciplines across the West Midlands.

‘CADLab initiative is an excellent resource for student learning, as is the involvement of professionals from NHS and other contexts’.
External Examiner

‘All of the judges were impressed by your work and thought that your project had made a significant impact.’
Director, Creative Health CIC

Benefits of CADLab

The advantages to students of participating in CADLab are that it gives you the opportunity to:

  • Work with experts in Applied Theatre and wellbeing in healthcare.
  • Gain a wide range of experiences and skills, including planning, devising, performing, filming and evaluating portable theatre performances.
  • Learn to produce work for a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, hospices, care homes, and community venues.
  • Have their volunteering accredited through the HEAR Newman Volunteering Awards scheme.
  • Network, and obtain work experience with, companies and organisations which could lead to future employment.

CADLab supporting children in hospital with BBC Children in Need

Newman University CADLab has secured a grant worth £49,349 from BBC Children in Need to develop work in Applied Theatre and Wellbeing to improve the lives of young sick children in local hospitals between 2016-2019.

The ‘Bird Island’ project, consisted of bedside performances and arts activities, explores the impact of theatrical experience on children’s perception of illness and wellbeing in both healthcare and educational environments. ‘Bird Island’ started in 2016, in the West Midlands in partnership with NHS Trusts and the Local Educational Authorities across the UK. It is currently fully booked until September 2018.

To find out more, view the news story here. Previously they performed ‘Breathing with Love’ bedside for children (2014) and ‘The Boy and the turtle’ at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (2010-2013).

CADlab offers eye-opening and enriching learning experiences which our Drama students remember for years.


CADLab and International Student Experience

CADlab not only outreaches for children in hospitals and schools in the UK but also abroad. Drama students performed to children in primary schools in Gambia in January 2014.


CADLab practice

CADlab performed at the Aksept Theatre Festival in Gdansk, Poland in 2016 and 2017.



CADLab and the Cathedrals Group

With the generous support of the Cathedrals Group, Newman University hosted a two-day conference in September 2017 on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, which CADLab was a part of. The Event was opened by Professor Scott Davidson, Vice-Chancellor of Newman and provided the opportunity for academics from member institutions to come together, share their interests and explore opportunities to work together on joint projects. Professor Stephen Clift of Canterbury Christ Church University and Dr Persephone Sextou of Newman University organised a full programme of talks, demonstrations and discussions.


Download the Cathedrals Group Conference Report

Contact us

If you are a current or prospective student, a colleague, a drama teacher or a community artist and would like to find out more about CADLab, please contact:







Sextou, P. (2016) Theatre for Children in Hospital. The Gift of Compassion. UK: Intellect.

CADLab in the news

Centre for Medical Humanities

Arts Professional

International Arts Manager

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