Voice director at Centre for Performance Research

Areas of expertise:


JOAN MILLS is a theatre director, voice practitioner, performer and educator who has directed and created a wide range of theatre projects, plays and workshops over the past forty years, from new writing to theatre in education, classical text to music and image based performances. Since 1986 she has combined her professional work with undergraduate and post graduate teaching within the field of theatre and performance. Her practice is influenced by her understanding of voice in performance from a wide range of cultures, particularly since 1981, through her research for Project Voice and from 1990 by her experience of directing the international festival of voice in performance, Giving Voice, at the Centre for Performance Research.

Joan began her career as the Director of the Royal Court Young People’s Theatre Scheme and was originator of its highly successful Young Writer’s Festival. When she was appointed Artistic Director of Theatr Powys, she moved to Mid-Wales, later working as a freelance director with a variety of community and new writing theatre companies such as Spectacle and Made in Wales as well as directing large scale community plays with the Colway Theatre Trust. She began working with Cardiff Laboratory Theatre in 1981 and has remained an associate of its later manifestation the Centre for Performance Research to date as the Voice Director and curator of the Giving Voice project.

In 1986 she was appointed as a senior lecturer in voice and acting, then later, Head of Physical Skills at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she worked for eight years, until she left to become a senior lecturer in theatre at Dartington College. After moving from Cardiff with the CPR in 1995 to collaborate with the Theatre Film and Television Department of Aberystwyth University, Joan founded the community choir Heartsong and with colleagues at CPR created a number of projects which contributed to the development of community choirs throughout Wales.

She continued to work freelance as a director and voice practitioner until she was appointed Fellow in Voice and Performance at the TFTS Department of Aberystwyth University in 2002. There she contributed to the development and teaching of a wide range of undergraduate theatre and performance modules including: acting; directing; voice in performance; devising theatre; theatre skills in the community; applied theatre and production projects. During this time she created 12 new plays through her method of ensemble development and devising. Throughout her career Joan has organized and taught workshops for theatre professionals, students and communities, in voice, acting, devising and play-writing in the UK, Europe and the USA.

She has recorded three CDs which are collaborations with Frankie Armstrong, one with her own ensemble Bright Field as well as creating two teaching CDs. A great enthusiast for a cappella traditional singing, particularly Georgian polyphony, Joan is the editor of the 99 Georgian Songs collection by the renowned ethnomusicologist Edisher Garakanidze, published by the CPR’s Black Mountain Press in 2004 and she edited the expanded and revised second edition published in March 2015.

Joan left Aberystwyth University in July 2014 and is working freelance. She was recently a guest practitioner at Falmouth University Academy of Music and Theatre Arts and completed curating Giving Voice 13 Listening Mind, Moving Voice (Falmouth, April 10-18th 2015) for the CPR, which was the 25th anniversary of the project.

Company Name: 
Centre for Performance Research
Role / Position: 
Voice Director