The Ballad of Goodwill by Post Workers Theatre. Or, the lecturers lament at the demise of goodwill in the neoliberal university

Culture and languages

Is the privilege of working in the university being compromised by the dominant transactional cultures of contemporary education? And as such are universities in danger of losing the goodwill of their staff and students? Do you sometimes wonder where our goodwill ends and unpaid labour begins? A singing symposium with Joanna Figiel, Jenni Hyde, Rajani Naidoo, Stevphen Shukaitis and soprano Roxanne Korda.

29 Apr 2021
10:00 - 17:00

Organised to coincide with International Workers Day, The Ballad of Goodwill is an experimental one-day symposium where a new workers ballad will be collectively produced and sung by soprano and librettist Roxanne Korda. Symposium guests are invited to listen to presentations and contribute to the production of a ballad through the retelling, scripting and discussing of the often-hidden economies of goodwill in academic labour and life.

The symposium will be organised in three sessions allowing guests to attend at their convenience. Ballad writing and singing will take place throughout the event.

Session 1: Goodwill (10-12 hrs)
Speakers will respond and discuss the following points:

  • How goodwill is being transformed by the rise in competitive regulatory instruments generating anxiety for academics.
  • How ‘the pursuits of what we love’ results in university staff sacrificing time and wellbeing without reward.
  • How goodwill is often biased and excludes those who are unable to perform unpaid overtime or survive on part-time or precarious contracts.

Professor Rajani Naidoo, Director International Centre for Higher Education Management, Researcher and activist

Joanna Figiel, Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, University of London

Dr. Stevphen Shukaitis, Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex, Centre for Work and Organization

Dr. Jenni Hyde, Ballad historian and precarious academic


Session 2: Scripting Goodwill (12:30-16:30 hrs)
Audience members are invited to be part of the collective writing process and create lyrics for the ballad based on the morning's discussion and personal experiences of goodwill.

Session 3: The Ballad of Goodwill  (16:30-17:00 hrs)
Rehearsing and singing the final ballad.


Lunch and breaks will be scheduled throughout the day.


Biographies and General Information:

Post Workers Theatre (PWT) are an artist collective investigating the future of politically engaged performance, reimagining historic forms of creative resistance to address inequalities in contemporary labour. Recent projects include Protesteroo, Tate Liverpool, UK, AutoHoodening, Goldsmiths University, UK and Tomorrows Great Pageant, Bedford Creative Arts, UK. The Ballad of Goodwill is intended as a communal ritual of resistance, exploring singing and storytelling as practices of solidarity. PWT revisits the social function of the broadside ballad for the contemporary workplace and considers the ballad's potential to create relationships across different institutions and professions that face growing pressure and precarity within marketised education.


The Ballad of Goodwill is organised as part of Post Workers Theatres residency within Allmänningen (The Common Room) at the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, Gothenburg University. Allmänningen is a Vinnova funded research project developing and piloting alternative models for university usership and collaboration. The symposium is open for students and staff from the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, Gothenburg University, Goldsmiths University and Birmingham City University and the general public via sign-up.