Elspeth Tilley

Internationally recognised playwright, driving social change through Creative Activism and the Arts


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Dr Elspeth Tilley teaches theatre and creative activism at Massey University in New Zealand, and is an award winning teacher and multi-award-winning playwright. Focussing predominately on political and social justice theatre, especially short comedies that subvert the status quo, she is a two-time winner of the British Theatre Challenge international playwriting competition, a three-time official playwright for Climate Change Theatre Action, and has won playwriting festivals and prizes in the USA and New Zealand. Her short plays have been published in the USA, UK, New Zealand and Canada and performed worldwide, including in Paris, Rome (in Italian translation), Shanghai, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Manila, Dubai, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and more.

Elspeth also has a research background in communication theory and ethics, expertise that has enabled her to analyse how theatre works as an effective tool for social change.  In her role as Associate Professor of Expressive Arts at Massey’s School of English & Media Studies in Wellington, she has led a wide range of performative and storytelling-based social change projects including Te Hā Tangata: The Human Library on Homelessness, and projects on youth justice, smokefree youth and sexual consent.  Elspeth is the producer of the biennial Climate Change Theatre Action Aotearoa event and the founder of Create1World, the annual free creative activism and global citizenship conference for high school students hosted at Massey’s Wellington and Auckland campuses each November.