CADLab was founded by Dr Persephone Sextou within Newman’s Drama department with an Entrepreneurship Award from HefCE & UnLtd in 2010. CADLab operates in partnership with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, The James Brindley School at BCH, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in England and, Queensland Children’s Hospital Brisbane Australia. CADlab’s projects have now involved over 4000 sick, injured and terminally ill children in performances and, pre- and post-show evaluations at their bedside.

CADLab has generated over 100K over the years with support from BBC Children in Need, The Lottery Community Fund, The Grimmitt Trust, The W.A. Cadbury Trust, Heartlands Arts-NHS Trust and private donations.

Following news developments relating to COVID-19 and having closely followed advice and guidance from the government, the World Health Organisation and Public Health England and NHS, CADlab continues to offering long-term support of those children at Birmingham Children’s Hospital through the Rocket-Arts project. We have produced electronic child-friendly online resources such as animated cartoon films, interactive stories and worksheet literacy activities. CADLab is proudly funded by BBC Children in Need and The Lottery Community Fund ‘Awards for All’.

Our Rocket-Arts stories can be viewed below and you can let us know your thoughts on the resources by emailing Persephone Sextou.

‘Simba and the Space Cave’ Animated Cartoon Film

‘Simba’s Dream’ for younger children (2-5 years old)

‘Welcome to Rocket-Arts online!’ for the elder children (5-8 years old)

Rocket-Arts E-resources play through the J.B. Academy’s website for the children in-patients at BCH and pupils who experience isolation at home. They are also accessible via CADLab pages for the wider public.

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

‘Rocket-Arts’ project Rocket-Arts is an innovative interactive longitudinal project that aims to explore the uses mixed arts (bedside drama, participatory storytelling, visual arts) with digital technology in making a difference in children’s education when they are in hospital in preparation of going back to school.

The project aims to examine how the arts with technology could encourage children to engage with continuous learning (Literacy KS1 and KS2) and improve their emotional and social wellbeing during treatment through playful and stimulating 1:1 story-making, object animating and digital activities. The project will use mixed-methods and multi-level experience and knowledge to encourage communication, creativity, self-confidence, awareness and self-appreciation during times of poor health, lack of normality and privacy, physical pain, and isolation.

Past Projects

  • ‘Bird Island’ project 2016-2019
  • ‘Breathing with Love’ 2013-2014
  • ‘The Boy and the turtle’ 2010-2013

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

CADLab and the Cathedrals Group

cathedrals group logo

With the 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. 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


Broken Puppet 3 International Symposium on ‘Puppetry: Community, Health, Well-being and Disability: Professional Training Opportunities’

broken puppet symposium

Between 17th and 18th April 2019, the Community & Applied Drama Laboratory (CADLab) at Newman University Birmingham in collaboration with the UNIMA Research Commission and the UNIMA Commission for Education, Development and Therapy held a 2-day symposium exploring ways of training professional performers and health practitioners in approaches, techniques and embodied empathic relationships between performers, puppets, healthcare professionals and audiences. Search #BrokenPuppet3 on twitter to see more photos from the day.

Download the Broken Puppet 3 Report 

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

Email Professor Persephone Sextou