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Meet Professor Paul Heritage

Professor Paul Heritage talks about his experiences of performance in both Brazil and London.

I am Professor of Drama and Performance and Director of People’s Palace Projects, a School of English and Drama research centre and national portfolio organisation of Arts Council England.

Since 1991, I have been creating arts and cultural projects between the UK and Brazil including 15 years of performance-based human rights projects with prisoners, guards and their families from São Paulo through to the Amazon region. These include award-winning HIV/AIDs education and Human Rights programmes as well as a series of Shakespeare projects with juvenile and adult prisoners.

I have directed plays for Gay Sweatshop and the Young Vic (where I was International Associate) as well as directing Shakespeare’s plays with celebrated casts in some of Brazil’s most distinguished theatres as well as on the borderlands of conflict in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

As Associate Producer at the Barbican Centre for three years I created a partnership with Grupo Cultural AfroReggae that included productions of From the Favela to the World and Favelization as well as community-based projects in the East End of London.

On behalf of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, Arts Council England, British Council and DCMS, I directed Points of Contact, a four-year cultural exchange programme for policy makers and artists focusing on transformative arts practices (2009-12).

As part of London’s 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad, I produced Rio Occupation London, bringing 30 emerging artists to create a cultural occupation of London during 30 days. The project created 250 new works of art and performance and was seen by over 37,000 people.

My current research include practice-based projects on cultural exchange, Shakespeare, Brazilian indigenous cultures, arts and homelessness. In 2004, I was made a Knight of the Order of the Rio Branco by the Brazilian government and am proud to have had a studio theatre named after me by the prisoners and guards in the maximum-security prison of Brasília.

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