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Annie McKean MBE trained as a secondary drama teacher and has been Head of Drama in 3 inner London comprehensive schools and one rural comprehensive. She worked as a teacher advisor for drama for the Inner London Education Authority and Hampshire Local Education Authority.  Before starting work at The University of Winchester she taught on the Drama Secondary PGCE degree and the 4-year Drama with QTS Primary degree at Reading University.

Since joining the University of Winchester she has developed a portfolio of modules in the areas of Community/Applied Drama, Drama in Education and Theatre in Education She has continued to run in-service training sessions for primary and secondary teachers as well as teaching on the Primary QTS degree at the University. In April 2000, she took a group of primary teacher training students to Ghana in order to tour a piece of Theatre Education about child labour around schools. Between 2004-2007 Annie was the external examiner on the BA in Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies at The University of Reading.  

Over the last 15 years she has been delivering projects in HMP Winchester including 11 large-scale theatre productions with undergraduate students working alongside prisoners. Annie manages a campus-based drama group, Over the Wall Theatre Company, for people who are working to overcome disadvantage. Members of this group have had experiences of the criminal justice system, homelessness, and/or substance abuse. Some of them have taken part in the productions in HMP Winchester and joined the campus-based group upon release from prison. The work is predicated on enhancing their quality of life and increasing their employability. 

Annie McKean was awarded an MBE for services to Higher Education in 2010.

Areas of expertise

  • ​​Prison Theatre – collaboration with prison education departments on workshops and theatre productions with people in secure institutions.
  • In Service Training for teachers – Drama and Theatre in Education
  • Community Theatre focused on marginalised groups.


  • 2006 Playing for Time in the Doll's House RIDE (Research in Drama Education) Vol. 11 No:3 Nov. 2006 pp 313-327
  • 2008 HEFCE project publication Upbeat (Assessing University Outreach Projects) features article based on interview about Prison Theatre at The University of Winchester
  • Website –Showcases the work of Playing for Time Theatre Company and provides a range of research-based materials for undergraduate and post-graduate work. See http://www.playingfortime.org.uk/
  • Currently editing a book about the work in HMP Winchester –Playing for Time Prison Theatre.


Annie is Artistic Director of Playing for Time Theatre Company. Theatre productions staged annually in West Hill HMP Winchester with undergraduate students working alongside and mentoring prisoners.

  • 2003 Refuge by Dawn Garrigan directed by Annie McKean and Kerryn Davies. A play about women's experience of the criminal justice system. (Women prisoners and undergraduate students.) Collaboration with Clean Break Theatre Company.All subsequent production staged with male prisoners and undergraduate students and produced by Annie McKean.
  • 2005 Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker directed by Marianne Sharp
  • 2006 Oh what a Lovely War by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop directed by Martin Constantine. Design by Mark Friend.
  • 2007 Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry directed by Nick Cooke (Year 3 Drama student)
  • 2008 Stand or Fall written and directed by Brian Woolland
  • 2009 The Convict's Opera by Stephen Jeffreys directed by Bethan Clark with co-direction, design and music by Year 2 students.
  • 2010 The Government Inspector by Gogol, directed by Bethan Clark
  • 2011 Soul Traders by Philip Glassborow (local playwright), directed by Bethan Clark
  • 2012 The Accidental Imposter based on Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist adapted and directed by Bethan Clark
  • 2013 Our Country Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, directed by Dr. Marianne Sharp
  • 2014 The Fight in the Dog by Rib Davis, directed by Brian Woolland

Producer of documentary films about this work:

  • 2006 Oh What a Lovely War – the prisoner experience of prison theatre
  • 2007 Lessons from the Prison – the student experience of prison theatre.
  • 2008 From Page to Stage – Stand or Fall documenting the writing and staging of a show for male prisoners and students.
  • 2011 Soul Traders The prisoner journey from rehearsal to performance

Awards won by Playing for Time Theatre Company:

  • 2008 The MacJannet Prize (Talloires Network) for student work in the context of Global Citizenship 2009
    Playing for Time Theatre Company won third prize in the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.
  • 2008 Koestler Award for Stand or Fall
  • 2010 Annie McKean awarded an MBE for Services to Higher Education
  • 2011 Koestler Award for Soul Traders
  • 2013 Koestler Award for Our Country's Good
  • 2010 Annie McKean awarded an MBE for Services to Higher Education


  • 2003 Drama's Role in Promoting Inclusion Keynote Address Bournemouth & Poole LEA Drama teachers and Arts Workers' Conference
  • 2004 Working inside the Doll's House – Paper on working with women in Prison at Interdisciplinary Landscapes: Post-Feminist Practices in the Arts – International Conference University College Northampton
  • 2005 Insecure Worlds – The Prisoner and Student experience of Prison Theatre Paper based on first two productions at West Hill International Conference Liverpool Hope University (paper co-delivered with Marianne Sharp)
  • 2006 Workshop and paper on gender politics and prison theatre at the National Drama Conference held at the University of Winchester
  • 2007 Screening of Documentary Lessons from the Prison at Critical Connections: Education for Social Change International Conference Queen Margaret College University of Edinburgh
  • 2008 Public Lecture at Café Culture, Winchester: Prison Theatre: Challenge & Change
  • 2009 Presentation on Prison Theatre work at SELP (Southern England Local Partners) Conference (Creativity and Innovation) in Brussels
  • 2009 Screening of From Page to Stage documentary at Southern Eye Film Festival (Southampton) (post-screening Q & A with film-makers, ex-prison and undergraduate students involved in production)
  • 2009 From Page to Stage screened at PAN Project – European Prison Initiative Forum for Arts in Secure Institutions – Skanderborg, Denmark (Screening hosted by Arts Alliance colleague as I was involved in week 14 assessments and could not attend conference)
  • 2009: Screening of Documentary: From Page to Stage at TAPRA Conference.
  • 2010 Screening of Documentary: From Page to Stage plus history and contextualising of work at Theatre Applications International Conference at Central School of Speech and Drama
  • 2010 Screening of Documentary From Page to Stage plus history andcontextualising of work at Community Arts in Higher Education International Conference at The University of Winchester (an ex-prisoner and undergraduate students took part in this session.)
  • 2010 Screening of 25 minute version of From Page to Stage documentary at the Winchester Film Society's final event of the year.
  • 2012 2nd Global Conference – Interdisciplinary Network – Experiencing Prison – Paper Presentation – Prison Theatre – Transformation and Change
  • 2014 4th Global Conference – Interdisciplinary Network – Experiencing Prison: Screening of documentary film: From Page to Stage - Stand or Fall


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