Dr Brenda Winter-Palmer joined the staff in Drama Studies at Queen's University Belfast in 2009 after a thirty-year career as an actress, writer and director in professional theatre, film and television. In 1983 she was one of the founders of Charabanc, the important Irish women's theatre company. In 1988 she established Replay, Northern Ireland's foremost educational theatre company, and was its first Artistic Director for a period of seven years. Whilst at Replay she developed her interest in creating theatre in museums with five productions which used the region’s outdoor folk parks and heritage centres as their back-drop. Between 1998 and 2004 she was Creative Director of The Mixed Peppers Training Project in Theatre Arts for Young People with Motor Disabilities. She came to Queen's in 2006 to undertake a Practice as Research doctorate on the Northern Irish dramatist George Shiels. As part of that course of study she wrote and directed a new play on the life of this dramatist entitled Just Shiels. Brenda has retained the close connections with community and educational theatre which she forged during her professional career as a practitioner.
Brenda's current research interests are focused on how drama and theatre methods may be applied in the process of peace-building in the context of the commemoration of contested histories on the island of Ireland; specifically issues surrounding the legacies of the First World War. To that end she has researched and written a new play The Medal in the Drawer which addresses the complexities of Nationalist involvement in that conflict. The play and its accompanying educational workshop programme visits schools and community venues in order to provoke discussion and stimulate groups to research and present their own dramas. She has a particular interest in how role-play and first person interpretation can be used to explore and negotiate polarised opinion and entrenched position.