A PhD was never a dream or ambition for me, and yet here I am, delighted to be a PhD student at Queen Mary University’s School of Drama. Though this was never a plan, all of my interests have fused together: my own heritage and roots, the experience of forced displacement and becoming a refugee as a child, my professional fascination as a journalist with wellbeing, and my love of theatre.

The original intention was to study acting. I had started writing and performing solo pieces and considerd that maybe a theatre MA would be better. But having just written three psychology books, I didn’t want to abandon my research, in fact I wanted to go deeper. Then the MSc in Creative Arts and Mental Health at Queen Mary popped up and in seconds my mind was decided. I didn’t have to choose. I could develop my solo theatre practice and my mental health knowledge. The two connected through my research into refugees and mental health, something I had never addressed before, and as it turned out, wanted to continue beyond the MSc.

My research investigates solo theatre artists who like me have a migrant heritage and who themselves may have experienced displacement. This is a practice-based PhD which means in addition to scholarly research and interviews with artists, I will be making one-woman theatre through the lens of my British-born Greek Cypriot heritage. Key themes will be drawn from my survey Attitudes to Mental Health and Wellbeing in UK Greek Cypriots and Greeks.

‘Tango Journeys’, GOLab Festival

Lorna V is another Time Out alumnus who’s bravely spreading her performing wings via a series of smart, self-composed monologues set in the seductive and socially complex world of tango.


‘Tango Journeys’, GOLab Festival

[…] three distinct, somewhat damaged yet endearing and even comic female characters – wallflowerish Denise, the more brassy Kirsty (also known as ‘Kissy’), and a language-mangling teacher named Aliki, three richly-written women let loose.

London Dance.Com

‘Aliki Speaks’ Women GOLive Festival, Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford

Lorna V embodies her character from the minute she enters the stage, so convincingly that many of the audience do not realize that she is acting.

Emily May

Oxford Dance Writers

A self-scripted performer with a blazing personality

Run Riot

If Aliki (‘guru to the stars’) gives you the opportunity to join her on stage, take it!

Maggie Watson

Oxford Dance Writers

‘Aliki Speaks, Women GOlive Festival, Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford

Dance diva and celebrity movement guru, Aliki Mbakoyianni, had the audience’s sides splitting. For once she was not dancing and her lectures to the audience ignited a myriad of emotions – mostly happiness and laughter. Speaking on the gender dynamics in dance Aliki was passionate vivacious and the best shoe thrower I have ever seen.

Georgina Campbell

Oxford Times

Dear Lorna,
Thank you for all the expression with which you interpreted my poems. I’m so happy I met such a talented person as you with a spirit of culture. To interpret poems one needs to penetrate their spirit and you had and have the power to do so. My congratulations and many thanks.

Sotiris Varnavas



Photo and image by Conny Jude

Androulla and her mother (Nina Mandis) in Southgate to Brighton by Athena Mandis and Dino Jacovides
photo by Vassa Nicolaou

Photo by Vassa Nicolaou