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Public Projects Ongoing

Alice Theobald

2022 – 2025

“Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”, Sanford Meisner.

Across 18 months Alice is developing a strand of research that is focussed on authenticity, particularly considering how we understand the gap between professionals, amateurs and the many positions between: dabblers, jacks-of-all-trades, ‘outsiders’, first-timers and hobbyists. Working in a sector where 69% of ‘professional’ artists have second jobs (Livelihoods of Visual Artists Report, 2018), she is keen to consider what these questions mean for artists, but also to broaden it out to those who don’t consider themselves creative.

Artists commonly borrow from other creative disciplines. Alice is interested in the politics of this, from DIY and Punk to questions of appropriation, but also in what it means to be un-trained or be an amateur as well as how ‘success’ is measured, in the shadow of other professionals. Drawing on acting theories and the paradox of bad acting revealing more, thus closer to a form of ‘truth’, she is specifically interested in what happens when the borrowing goes wrong: when we are bad liars.

As an Incidental Artist she is working with Eastside Projects, mac Birmingham and the Birmingham School of Art at Birmingham City University where she has been supported by a Wheatley Fellowship.


Alice Theobald was born in Leicester, UK in 1985. She lives and works in Birmingham, UK. Theobald works across a wide range of media including live performance, video, installation, sound, text and sculpture and composes musical scores for her works. Her work fluctuates between script and improvisation and highlights the unstable relationship between art, communication and representation. Often conflating sentimental tropes, cliche and social archetypes with absurdist and dead-pan humour, Theobald addresses accepted concepts of spectacle and emotion and uses performance as both starting point and subject matter to magnify aspects of everyday life and typically introspective thought. Borrowing from the vocabulary of cinema, television, theatre, literature and soundtracks, her practice is concerned with the desire for authenticity and commodification of emotion and what this might say about empathy, aspiration and how we (mis)communicate.