Nesreen Hussein is a contemporary art and performance practitioner. She joined the Department of Performing Arts at Middlesex University in July 2013 as a Lecturer in Contemporary Theatre Theory and Practice. Prior to this she was a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent where she joined a few months after completing her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London. She also taught at Royal Holloway as a Visiting Lecturer and worked as a Research Assistant at the Centre for International Theatre and Performance Research, led by Professor Helen Gilbert. Before coming to the UK from Egypt, Nesreen taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University in Cairo, where she gained her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and Design.
Nesreen's interdisciplinary research and teaching reflect her background in visual arts and their intersection with theatre and performance practices. She worked as an independent artist with established practitioners, theatre companies and design studios, including designing site-specific and physical theatre productions (London and Alexandria), working as a performer and puppet making assistant with Improbable theatre company in Philip Glass's opera Satyagraha (London and New York), and a performer with director Richard Gough (Aberystwyth and Chichester).
In Spring 2011, she was awarded the Helsinki Essay Prize, which is presented annually by the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) on the basis of academic merit to a promising new scholar whose country of origin and first degree-level studies is in Africa, Asia, South America or the Middle East. She was also awarded in the same year the New Scholars' Prize, also presented annually by the IFTR to the best three essays, judged on originality, coherence and rigour.
Nesreen's teaching reflects her interdisciplinary background as well as her wide range of interests and areas of specialism. Particularly, it reflects her interest in the intersections between visual arts, theatre and performance and how this fluid relationship can be perceived and conceptualized in theory and in practice. Modules she led and taught in the past include:
- Materiality, and the different implications of the interchange between the human subject and the physical object in various contexts of art and performance practices.
- The role of objects and materials in performance practice and its reception, considering issues of politics and ethics in tandem with notions of 'performativity' and 'agency' that are raised by the spatio-temporal encounter between subject and object.
- The 'performativity' of acts of resistance (in political, social and artistic contexts). Using the broad notion of 'performance' as a conceptual framework, understanding it as an 'intervention' and as a vital mode of social practice that can aid in understanding and articulating dynamics of agency, identity and belonging in the political, social and artistic spheres.
- The Egyptian revolution, and the role of dynamics of 'creative' and urban practices in redefining notions of democracy, citizenship and identity.
- 'Cultural Practices / Resistant Acts: Cultural Production and Emerging Democracies in Revolutionary Nations'. Special issue of Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest. Eds Nesreen Hussein and Iain MacKenzie. 2014 (forthcoming).
- 'Performance Gestures between Art and Activism in No Time for Art'. Theatre, performance and activism: gestures towards an equitable world. Special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review. Eds Simon Parry and Jenny Hughes. 2014 (forthcoming).
- 'Cairo: My City, My Revolution'. Performance and the City. Eds D.J. Hopkins and Kim Solga. Performance Interventions. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2013.
- 'Seeing through the Wall: Objectification between Resistance and Acceptance.' Platform: Objects of Engagement. 3.2 (2008): 62-78.
- 'Objects of Engagement: Conference Response.' (Co-authored with Roberto Sánchez-Camus and Grant Tyler Peterson) Platform: Objects of Engagement. 3.2 (2008): 9-15.
'Cairo, My City, My Revolution: Creative Practices and Acts of Resistance.' Creativity and Revolution. The International Symposium on Comparative Literature. Cairo University. Cairo, Egypt. 2012
'An Urban Site of Rebellion: the Performative Dynamics of Resistance in Tahrir Square.' Tradition, Innovation, Community. International Federation for Theatre Research's annual conference. Osaka, Japan. 2011.
'Transformation as Action & Reaction: The Body as a Site of Material and Political Exchange.' The Body and Performance working group. TaPRA conference. University of Plymouth. 2009.
'Negotiating the Material Past: "Telling" as Rearticulation of Place.' Silent Voices, Forbidden Lives. Centro de Estudos de Teatro. International Federation for Theatre Research's annual conference. Lisbon, Portugal. 2009
'Bodies of Denial: Seeing the Invisible.' Emerging Scholars Panel (Performance Studies Focus Group). Difficult Dialogues: Theatre and the Art of Engagement. Association for Theatre in Higher Education's 22nd conference (ATHE). Denver, Colorado. 2008
'Material Bodies... Bodied Material: A Case of Subversion.' Objects of Engagement conference, Royal Holloway. 2008
'Time as Body, Body as Object, Object as Time: A Case of Materiality.' Theatre Materials / Materials Theatre, the Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre conference, Central School of Speech and Drama. London. 2008.
'Reflections on observing, doing and writing for "practice-informed" research.' Practice and Research / Practice-as-Research Symposium. Royal Holloway. 2011
'Improbable Objects: Physical Materials between the Self and the "Other"?' Is Material a Performative Subject? Bodies, Objects and Performance Practice Research Group. Royal Holloway. 2011
Hussein, Nesreen and Papadelli, Vanio and Goely, Mohamed and Picknett, Michael (2015) My city, my revolution. [Performance]
Hussein, Nesreen (2014) Working with and supporting early career academics. A provocation. In: The Standing Conference of University Drama Departments' annual conference, 11 April 2014., Aberystwyth University..
Hussein, Nesreen (2015) Performance as a gesture of resistance in Laila Soliman’s No Time for Art. In: Theatre and Stratification. International Federation for Theatre Research’s world congress., 30 July 2014., The University of Warwick.. (Accepted/In press)
Hussein, Nesreen (2015) Here… there… and the question of belonging. In: Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival., 7 March 2015, Rich Mix, London..
Hussein, Nesreen (2015) Here, there, and the question of belonging in a time of revolution. In: Contested Exchanged: Space, Place and the Performance of Democracy, 28 March 2015, Artaud Performance Centre. Brunel University, London..
Organisation and Facilitation of Knowledge Exchange Events
Hosting the 'Dialogue Project': a series of international video conference seminars based at the American University in Cairo (AUC). University of Kent and the AUC. 2012.
Organiser of 'Creative Practices / Resistant Acts: Cultural Production and Emerging Democracies in Revolutionary Nations;' a one-day interdisciplinary symposium at the ICA, London. A collaboration between the School of Arts and the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. 2011-12
Co-organiser of AHRC funded postgraduate symposium.'trans.form@work: Experimental Methodologies and Interdisciplinary Challenges in Arts Research,' Dept of Dance, Film and Theatre, University of Surrey. Collaboration between Royal Holloway, University of Surrey and University of Chichester. 2008-10.
Co-organiser of 'Indigenous Communities and Puppetry;' a one-day talk and workshop by Australian director, designer and puppeteer Sandy McKendrick. The Centre for International Theatre and Performance Research, Royal Holloway. 2009.
Co-organiser of Objects of Engagement postgraduate symposium, Royal Holloway. 2008.
Peer-reviewer for Platform, a postgraduate journal of Theatre and Performance Arts, based at Royal Holloway. 2009 – present.
Satyagraha opera by Philip Glass. An Improbable theatre production in collaboration with the English National Opera and The Metropolitan Opera. ENO, London: 2007, 10, 13. Metropolitan Opera, New York: 2008. Performer and puppet-making assistant.
The Air Changes the Colour of Things. Physical theatre, site-specific performance. Dir. Vanio Papadelli. Hackney Empire Studio, 2009. Shunt Vaults, London, 2010. Designer.
Phantom Limb. Physical theatre performance. Dir. Vanio Papadelli. The Festival Of. Central School of Speech and Drama, London, 2009.Creative Forum for Independent Theatre Groups. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Alexandria, Egypt, 2010. Designer.
Everyday Life in the Folds of a Serviette – A Journey Undertaken. A site-specific, promenade performance in Surrealism Laid Bare: Living in Surrealismconference. Dir. Richard Gough. Centre for Performance Research, in collaboration with West Dean College. West Dean House, Chichester. 2007. Performer.
A 100 Years in Boxes. A site-specific, promenade performance. Dir. Richard Gough. Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, Wales. 2005. Performer.
Memberships of Research and Professional Organisations
Research Awards and Funding
Helsinki Essay Prize. International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR). The prize is awarded each year on the basis of academic merit to a promising new scholar whose country of origin and of first degree-level studies is in Africa, Asia, South America or the Middle East. 2011.
New Scholars' Essay Prize. IFTR. An annual essay competition for new scholars that awards the three best essays each year, judged on originality, coherence and rigour. 2011.