Dr Molly Mullen

PhD., MA (Distinction), BA (First Class Honours)


I am a senior lecturer in applied theatre. To this role I bring over ten years of experience producing theatre education, youth theatre, community arts and children’s theatre projects in the UK and New Zealand.

My research focuses on the ways in which theatre and the arts can contribute to social justice and well-being. Most of my research is ethnographic and/or arts-based, involving in depth, often collaborative, fieldwork to understand the relationship between examples of practice and the contexts in which they are produced. I am also involved in collaborative creative practice projects exploring issues of environmental and economic justice.

I have a particular interest in the diverse economies of applied theatre and community-based arts practice; the multiple ways in which projects and organisations are resourced and managed. I am interested in developing complex understandings of the interrelationship between policy, funding and practice. This area of research extends into the ways in which theatre and performance makers experiment with alternative economies and engage creatively with themes and issues related to economy. 

In all of my projects, I draw on a range of critical, poststructuralist, feminist and performance theories.

Research | Current

Creating change: Examining the economies of arts organisations working towards social justice and wellbeing for young people in Auckland, New Zealand: This study examines the tensions experienced by community arts organisations as they negotiate funding and policy conditions to promote social justice and wellbeing for young people. Role: Principal Investigator

Toi Taiao Whakatairanga: Kauri dieback, myrtle rust and public awareness through arts practices: The aim of this inter-disciplinary research is to better understand how arts practices can cultivate and grow public awareness of kauri dieback and myrtle rust and foster kaitiakitanga, caring for and respecting the mana our ngahere/forests. The research focuses on a series of related arts projects developed with curators and artists from The Kauri Project, and in partnership with iwi/hapū from areas around Aotearoa where dieback and myrtle rust are a threat. Role: Associate Investigator.

Online platforms and value creation in the arts: This cross-disciplinary research project examines the ways Aotearoa artists are engaging with online platforms, how innovative technologies are changing the ways value is created and distributed, and possibilities for technologies to enable fair and equitable ways of producing and sharing art. Role: Associate Investigator

Agencies of Kindness (research network): This is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary research project examines and critiques the performance and performativity of kindness in the context of Aoetaroa we wish to challenge some of the prevailing beliefs and assumptions about what constitutes kindness. Role: Research network member

Other ongoing research interests include:

  • Theatre, arts and social justice
  • Theatre, arts and well-being
  • Youth theatre and youth arts
  • Theatre, arts and environmental justice
  • Theatre, arts and economic justice
  • Funding and management in applied theatre and community-based arts
  • Drama in early childhood education
  • Arts-based research in education, community and applied theatre

Teaching | Current

  • EDUC 737 Arts in Communities
  • EDUC 756 Applied Theatre: Performance of Hope
  • EDUC 100G The Creative Process
  • EDUC 213 Education and Social Justice
  • EDPROFST 754 Critical Research Methodologies in Education
  • EDUC 774 Education and Empowerment
  • EDUC 116 Introduction to Educational Thought
  • EDUC 204 Philosophy and Sociology of Education

Postgraduate supervision

Kat Thomas, Intimate Aesthetic Revolutions, Doctor of Philosophy with Creative Component.

Moema Gregorzewski, Emerging as the Others of our Selves? Exploring applied theatre as Critical Multicultural Eduucation in Post-Normal times, Doctor of Philosophy.

Amber Walls, Researching the possibilities for creative youth wellbeing practice in Aotearoa., Doctor of Philosophy.

Dina Jezdic,Decolonising Museum Practice Through Performance Art: A
Reflexive Journey to Authentic (Re)Presentations. Doctor of Education.

Alejandra Jaramillo Aristizabal, Learning partnership with children and teenage led grassroots organisations: Reimagining intergenerational relationalities. Doctor of Philosophy.

Linshu Zhang. Doctor of Philosophy.

Dawn Lawrence. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Waikato.

Mindy Catt, Masters of Social and Community Leadership

Calvin Culverwell, Masters of Social and Community Leadership


Linlin Xu, Written feedback dynamics in intercultural doctoral supervision, Doctor of Philosophy.

Simon Dennan, We Chant Down Babylon: Reimagining Oceania through Critical Reggae Pedagogy, Doctor of Philosophy.

Beate Weibel, A Sense of Belonging: International secondary students’ experiences of ‘belonging’ in their temporary boarding house. Masters of Education.

Gabriella Foreman Brown, Practicing the university differently: A creative and critical autoethnographic response from within the neoliberal university. Masters of Social and Community Leadership.


2012 University of Auckland Universitas 21 Doctoral Student Mobility Scholarship to spend three months researching at the University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Education

2011 University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

2011TaPRA Postgraduate Bursary awarded to present a peer reviewed paper at the Theatre and Performance Research Association Conference in London

2005 Recipient of a Professional Preparation Masters Award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK

Areas of expertise

Applied theatre (drama and performance practices in education, community and institutional settings), theory and practice

Socially engaged arts, theory and practice

Methodologies for research in arts, youth, community and educational contexts

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2020-present Member of the international Community Economies Research Institute

2010-present Member of the Critical Research Unit in Applied Theatre at the University of Auckland

2013-present Chair of Postgraduate Committee, School of Critical Studies in Education

2013-present Member of Drama New Zealand, the New Zealand association for drama in education

2014-present Member of the Autralasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies



Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Mullen, M. S. (Ed.) (2018). Applied Theatre: Economies. London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. Pages: 280. Related URL.
  • Mullen, M., Matthewman, S., & Sykes, L. (2017). Finding Te Parenga: Informing environmental identities through drama. New Zealand Journal of Research in Performing Arts and Education: Nga mahi a rehia, 7, 5-18.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43497
  • Mullen, M., & Johansson, M. (2017). More than words: Culturally and environmentally responsive literacies in The Arts. Set: Research Information for Teachers, 2017 (3), 38-44.
  • Mullen, M. (2017). The 'diverse economies' of applied theatre. Applied Theatre Research, 5 (1), 7-22. 10.1386/atr.5.1.7_1
  • Mullen, M. (2016). The 'diverse economies' of applied theatre. Paper presented at The NYU Forum on Educational Theatre, NYU, New York. 21 April - 24 April 2016.
  • Wood, B., & Mullen, M. (2016). Rangi Ruru Walk: social and spatial connections through hybrid intermedial practices. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 21 (3), 406-412. 10.1080/13569783.2016.1189820
  • Mullen, M., & Thomas, K. (2016). Collaborative creativity in community settings. In O'Connor P (Ed.) The possibilities of creativity (pp. 117-134). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/28907
  • Mullen, M. (2015). Managing applied theatre. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 20 (3), 267-270. 10.1080/13569783.2015.1059260
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/27939

Contact details

Alternative contact

Office N312B

Primary office location

Level 3, Room 312B
New Zealand