Director of School of Theatre
A professional actor with extensive experience in theatre, film, television and radio, David trained at the Arts Educational Schools and at RADA. He joined MMU in 1999. Initially the Subject Leader or Drama at MMU Cheshire, he joined the Faculty of Art and Design as Director of the School and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Acting course in 2004. The founding Chair of the Conference of Drama Schools Research Forum and a former Co-convenor of the 20th/21st Century Performer Training Group at TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association), David is actively engaged in promoting research initiatives across the HE performer training sector. His own research includes published articles/book chapters related to Stanislavsky and Russian Naturalism, British Actor training, the American Method, the work of Samuel Beckett and Postdramatic Theatre.
David regularly collaborates with the Hallé Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall and has worked with Carl Davis, Sir Mark Elder and Markus Stenz.
David is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
In May 2016, David Shirley directed Beyond the Score: Dvorak's New World Symphony. Written and created by Gerard McBurney, this performance was conducted by Sir Mark Elder and featured Henry Goodman, Johnny Byrom and Barney Healy-Smith. Details…
David is currently directing a new composition by Carl Davis. Inspired by the Kindertransport movement in Germany during the late 1930s, this piece features six actors, the Halle Orchestra and the Halle Children's Choir. Details…
In February 2013, David will be directing the Halle's British premiere of Gerard McBurney's adaptation of Shakespeare's wonderfully evocative and moving text. Conducted by Markus Stenz, the production will feature Valda Wilson (soprano), Ladies of the Halle Choir, the Halle Youth Choir and a group of young actors. Details…
Performing Classical and Modern Play-texts David Shirley is currently leading The School of Theatre's contribution to an important three year collaborative HEA funded project entitled 'Integrated Learning Models: Understanding and Performing Modern Play-texts'. This initiative provides an extremely valuable opportunity to engage in a wide ranging debate about the efficacy of the teaching and learning models adopted in the training/education sector. Details…
A Shakespeare Day of Song - Scenes, Sonnets and Recitations. Directed by David Shirley To compliment our Day of Song, this selection of extracts affords a flavour of some of Shakespeare's extraordinary work. Details…
Established by Dr Simon Murray (University of Glasgow), Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and David Shirley (Manchester Metropolitan University), the C20th and C21st Performer Training Working Group has been meeting for six years and has produced several collaborative outputs, including a chapter on Research Methods for the Laboratory and a twice-yearly journal dedicated to training. Further details about the work of this group can be found at: http://tapra. Details…
In May 2015, David will be collaborating with Sir Mark Elder to direct a newly scripted version of Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra with the Halle orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. The performance will take place on Thursday 21st May 2015 at 7. Details…
David will be directing the Halle's presentation of William Walton's famous film music for Laurence Olivier's version of Shakespeare's Henry V. Conducted by Jamie Phillips and featuring the Halle Youth Orchestra and Children's and Youth Choirs, the performance will take place at 3pm on Sunday 9th March at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Details…
David Shirley is a member of the Media Research Group.
A selection of recent research outputs.
Gerard McBurney (Writer and Creator); Sir Mark Elder (Conductor); David Shirley (Director), 2016. 'Beyond the Score: Dvorak Symphony No. 9, "From the New World'', Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, May 7th 2016.
Britten, Benjamin (Composer) Elder, Sir Mark (Conductor) Shirley, David (Director), 2015. 'The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra', Halle Orchestra at the Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Thursday 21st May 2015 at 7.30pm.
Walton, William (Composer), Phillips, Jamie (Conductor), Shirley, David (Director),, 2014. 'William Walton's Henry V', The Halle Youth Orchestra and Choirs at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 9th March 2014.
McBurney, G (Adaptation); Stenz, M, (Conductor); Shirley, D (Director), 2013. 'Felix Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night's Dream (complete incidental music)', The Halle at The Bridgewater Hall, 28th February 2013 at 7.30pm.
Davis, C (Composer), Oram, Hiawyn, (Author), Shirley, D. (Director), 2012. 'The Last Train to Tomorrow by Carl Davis', Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, June 2012.
Bolton, Darren, 2006. ''Invisible'', Screenings of this short film to be held at various short film festivals throughout the UK and Europe, from May 2006.
Jointly Authored Book
Shirley, D, 2007. 'Stanislavski's System: The Anatomy of an Actor's Art', Oberon Books.
Shirley, D. and Turner, J (eds), 2013. 'Performing Narrative', Institute of Performance Research - MMU.
Shirley, D., 2013. 'Voice and Presence in Samuel Beckett's Footfalls (1976), Rockaby (1981) and Krapp's Last tape (1958)'. In Shirley, David and Turner, Jane (eds.) Performing Narrative - narration, denarration, fracture and absence in contemporary performance practice, Chapter 4, 39-49, Institute for Performance Research - MMU.
Shirley, D., 2012. 'Stanislavsky's Passage into the British Conservatoire'. In Pitches, Jonathan (eds.) Russians in Britain, Chapter 2, Routledge: London.
Shirley, D., 2008. 'Where is My Character? Acting and Performance in the Unascribed Play'. In Meyer-Dinkgraffe, Daniel and Watt, Daniel (eds.) Theatres of Thought: Theatre and Performance Philosophy, Chapter 14, 176-184, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Shirley, D., 2016. 'His Dream of Passion: Reflections on the work of Lee Strasberg and his influence on British Actor Training', Stanislavski Studies, Volume 4/Issue 1, pp.47-61.
Shirley, D., 2010. 'The Reality of Doing: Meisner Technique and British Actor Training', Theatre, Dance and Performer Training, 1:2, 199-213.
Shirley, D. and Thomaidis, K, 2012. 'TaPRA C20th-C21st Performer Training Interim Event', Exploring Boundaries and Crossing Borders, Centre for Creative Collaboration, London, 10th May 2012.
Shirley, D., 2009. 'Reflections on the Importance of 'Character' in British Actor training', Actor Training Symposium, Central School of Speech and Drama, 10th July 2009.
Shirley, D and Boston, J., 2008. 'Beckett and the Postdramatic Theatre', Creativity and Employability: Developing the Vocational Performing Arts Curriculum, LIPA, 26th-28th March 2008.
Shirley, D., 2008. 'Voice and Presence in the Theatre of Samuel Beckett', Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), University of Leeds, 3rd-5th September 2008.
Shirley, D. (Chair), Boston, J.,Tyson A., Wylde M., Moseley N., 2007. 'The Actor, The Text and Postmodernity', How To Act, Central School of Speech and Drama, 14-17 February 2007.
Shirley, D., Boston J., 2007. 'Voice, Text and Presence in the Theatre of Samuel Beckett', How To Act, Central School of Speech and Drama, 14-17 February 2007.
Shirley, D., 2006. 'Playing with Character - Experimental and Post-modern Theatre', CDS Acting Methodology Seminar, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, 22nd - 23rd May 2006.
Shirley, D. and Colman, G., 2005. 'We Don't Do Character - Approaches to Performance in the Un-ascribed Play', Theatre and Performance Association (TaPRA), University of Manchester, 8th-11th September 2005.