Heavenly Acts: Aspects of performance through an interdisciplinary lens

Heavenly Acts is an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and performers exploring meaning through the multidimensional world of religious performance.

EDU - Heavenly Acts

It brings together ethnomusicologists, sociolinguists, educationalists, theatre studies academics, Biblical Studies scholars, anthropologists and social psychologists.

Four events were held, two in Sheffield, one in London and one in Canada. These were a combination of academic presentations and discussions alongside practitioner/performer workshops and a public-facing performance in each location. 

The acquisition of performance practices in faith settings

An international symposium

11-12 September 2015 at The University of Sheffield (ICOSS)

The network’s first symposium focused on how performers acquire, or are socialised into, the competencies, identities and subjectivities needed for religious performance and included presentations by network members and, in liaison with local partners, a showcase performance and faith event.


Symposium programme (PDF, 1.2MB) 

Heavenly Acts! Devotional performances

11 September 2015

Heavenly Acts! Devotional Performances was a musical and spoken word event complementing the work of September's academic symposium. It was offered as free event to the public and was well attended by local people and friends and families of the performers.

It was an evening to remember blending music, voice, poetry and song. All of the acts were local to the region and many featured aspects of the devotional practices of the participants themselves.

The line-up for the concert was as follows:


  • Firth Park Muslim Boys' Choir
  • Shahe Mardan Qawalli ensemble (South Asian devotional music from Sheffield)

Spoken word

  • Shonaleigh - drut'syla (Jewish/Yiddish storyteller from Dronfield)
  • Alan Williams & Aida Foroutan (the poetry of Rumi from Buxton)

Physical performance (spoken word and/or music)

  • Whirling Dervishes (Arshad from Sheffield)


Devotional Performances poster (PDF, 553KB)

Heavenly Acts II: language, performance and identity in faith contexts

An international symposium

21-22 March 2016 at The University of Roehampton

The network’s second symposium, hosted by the University of Roehampton, focused on the complex and dynamic relationship between language, faith, performance and identity and included presentations by network members and, in liaison with local partners, a showcase spoken word event.


Heavenly Acts II poster (PDF, 138KB)

REF 2021 illustration

Research Excellence Framework 2021 results

The results demonstrate our research and impact excellence across a broad range of disciplines and confirm that our research is having a significant positive impact on lives across the globe.