Welcome to the 2023/24 Academic Year - From Professor Catherine McNamara, Head of GSA

Headshot of GSA Head of School, professor Catherine McNamara

On behalf of all of us at GSA, I am delighted to welcome the new academic year. Ours is an exciting, creative and innovative community. This is a place where many, many ideas are explored every day. Creating and sustaining an environment where together, we foster creativity, artistry and innovation is something we commit to daily. I’m really looking forward to welcoming each and every new student as you join us.

We are proud to be a sector-leading School that develops practitioners and researchers who shape the future of theatre, performance and the wider creative & cultural sector across the UK and beyond. To do that, we must have a sharp focus on our practices and ensure that they are inclusive of every person who works and studies here and that nobody is excluded. A great deal of attention is paid to this principle and the ways it manifests in our daily lives here at GSA. We are always open to listening, talking and taking action that keeps our focus clear.

We have some new members of staff joining us. These include Adam Wallis, Senior Lecturer in Voice and Georgia Bowers, Lecturer in Applied & Contemporary Theatre. Adam’s Professional Teaching and Performance credits include The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Arts Ed, Rose Bruford, The BRIT School, Spotlight, IAM Pro, BBC, ITV, Sky One, Abbey Road Studios, Radio1 Live Lounge and has supported numerous high-profile artists. Georgia is an applied theatre practitioner, theatre maker, producer and educator. Her professional experience includes working at the Royal Opera House, Chichester Festival Theatre, Brighton People's Theatre, Spare Tyre, Young Carers: Bucks, London Bubble, Almeida Theatre and Theatre Royal Windsor.  Georgia's applied theatre practice and research examines how theatre with older adults can be used as a tool to combat ageism.

One of the things that we celebrate with joy is the success of our graduates, whether that’s seeing everyone at the Graduation Ceremony or sharing congratulations as alumni take up great opportunities. This is as often about those who left GSA some years ago as it is about the recent graduates. In June, the university awarded alumnus Kobna Holdbrook-Smith an Honorary Doctorate. Kobna graduated from BA (Hons) Acting in 2000 and the award was given in recognition of his extra-ordinary acting achievements and impactful advocacy for the arts. Read more here.

When it comes to our most recent graduates, lots of them are already off to a flying start! To mention a few, Brandon Kimaryo of our graduating BA Acting class of 2023 already has an OFFIE nomination for Best Lead Performance in a Play, as Davey in Vincent River, by Philip Ridley, directed by James Haddrell for Greenwich Theatre. We have 10 (yes, 10!) alumni in the new cast of the West End production of Les Misérables, including three 2023 graduates! Lucy Napier (BA Theatre Production class of 2023) went straight into a role as Assistant Stage Manager for the National Theatre Connections Festival at the National Theatre, London in June.

Check out our podcast involving BA Acting alumnus Ella Balinska, recent BA Acting graduate Ed Shamwana, GSA staff Dom Rouse and Ameer Choudrie. This is part of the Surrey Speaks podcast series which celebrates the wonderful and innovative work that’s going on at the University. Our contributors talk about diversity, race and their experiences within the theatre and performance industry, within training environments such as GSA and about forging a career. It’s a great listen, click here to listen to the podcast.

GSA is a busy and dynamic place and we welcome you to be part of it.