Dr Emma Durden is a specialist in the field of theatre for development, with a focus on using theatre and other participatory techniques for public health and pro-social programmes. She is a consultant to a number of organisations, including NGOs, municipalities, universities and businesses. She is a lecturer in post-graduate research at AFDA School for the Creative Economy (Durban) and is the academic advisor for the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Zimbabwe, and has been a research associate at the Centre for Communication and Media in Society (CCMS) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and visiting scholar at Drama for Life at the University of Witwatersrand.
Durden has published widely in the field of theatre for development and health communications and has co-authored two books with Roel Twijnstra: “Theatre Directing in South Africa: Skills and Inspirations” and “Theatre Producing in South Africa: Skills and Inspirations”.
Through her company, Act Two Training, she conducts training for and evaluations of theatre projects and other health communication programmes. She is a partner in the PST Project, an industrial theatre performance company; and manages Twist Theatre Development Projects, an NPO that works with community theatre groups in KZN.
Durden is also known for her work as a theatre director and was the artistic director of the annual Musho! International Theatre Festival on behalf of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) in KZN from 2006-2016. She is now the artistic director of the Fresha Outdoor Festival in Durban. She has been an active member of the theatre community in Durban for many years and was the 2012 recipient of the Monica Fairall Memorial Award for service to the theatre community, and the 2016 International Association of Theatre in Higher Education Prize for leadership and Development in Community Theatre.