We’re very sorry to have learnt that Dorothy Heathcote has died at the age of 85. She passed away on 8 October from complications with a blood disorder.
Earlier this year she was awarded an MBE for services to drama as education, which she was due to collect later this month. She is well-known for her commitment to theatre-in-education (TIE), and completely revolutionised approaches to teaching drama, transforming the role of the teacher. Her method, Mantle of the Expert, is widely used by drama educators and the topic of many academic papers.
Born in West Yorkshire, Heathcote started work at the age of 14 in a woollen mill. Through funding, she was able to attend Northern Theatre School, Bradford when she was 19 to study acting and dance. She became distracted from her dream to become an actress and as her interest in drama education grew. By the age of 24 she had been appointed as a drama lecturer at Durham University.
Heathcote was subject of a 1971 BBC documentary, Three Looms Waiting, which brought international awareness of her work. From this platform she was able to work with children, young people and teachers from all over the world.
She retired in 1986 but continued to write and teach. Her work saw her awarded with honorary doctorates from University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and University of Derby.
A celebration of Dorothy Heathcote’s life will take place on Sunday 11 December in Derby. Teaching Drama will publish a tribute to Dorothy’s life in work in the Spring term 1 issue.
For those who would like to pay tribute to Dorothy, go to the official website www.dorothyheathcote.org