Professor Anna McNamara
Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Anna McNamara is Director of Internationalisation for GSA, previously having been Head of School (Interim), Director of Learning and Teaching and before that Director of Student Experience.
Anna is a passionate advocate for inclusion, access and participation to and within professional training for the creative industries at Higher Education. Anna is invested in working with creative practitioners to develop teaching and scholarship opportunities through mentorship and has worked in this capacity across drama schools and HE institutions.
Anna has been awarded National Teaching Fellow (NTF) for her sector wide impact and innovation work, is a Principal Fellow of Advance HE (PFHEA) in recognition of her sustained record of effective strategic leadership and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Anna is also recipient of the University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s award for Teacher of the Year for her innovative work in creating online learning programmes of study and for elevating the student voice.
As an award winning teacher of vocational practical performer training, she has published and presented internationally on a range of subjects including leadership and management, crisis-management, acting pedagogies, disability access to the arts, gender empowerment and equity, care in the curriculum and teaching, student experience, and change making. Topics published within acting pedagogies include play, flipped learning and student-staff partnerships. Anna has presented regularly at the annual Surrey Excites conference, at the inaugural Oracy conference hosted by the University of Surrey in conjunction with Cambridge University, at the Change Agents Network (CAN) conference and at The Stage Future of Theatre 2022 conference.
A committed change-maker, her innovation and impact projects include her international Be the Change digital conference, and subsequent book Be the Change: Learning and Teaching for the Creative Industries, bringing together thirty five colleagues globally as co-authors, as well as her nationwide inclusion project supporting school children and teachers, focussed on supporting access for those from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the creative industries training sector, in partnership with Get Into Theatre and the Federation of Drama Schools. Anna created the GSA People’s Network initiative, actively seeking to broaden and diversify GSA’s staff base, welcoming and encouraging applications from individuals who identify as part of or belonging to communities currently underrepresented in our workforce, as well as enabling formal opportunities for developmental placements, mentorships and internships across the school from 2022.
Anna trained in Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting before moving into teaching, gaining an MA in Education. As a performer she appeared professionally in numerous commercials, voiceovers, photographic shoots, pantomimes, concerts, cabarets and galas. She has produced, directed, choreographed and provided movement direction and enjoyed a long association with the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC).
As Director of Learning and Teaching she oversaw school level curriculum redesign and academic periodic review, initiating school-wide steps to decolonise the conservatoire curriculum and formally embed inclusive practice within all programmes of study at GSA, including the formal incorporation of safe spaces and intimacy coordination across all programmes. She also oversaw the redevelopment of all physical and virtual teaching spaces and studios for the school. Anna led on the introduction of the school's mental health training and awareness initiatives and is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Mental Health England.
Whilst Director of Student Experience, Anna created the GSA Gillian Lynne Choreography Competition, the GSA Sir Richard Stilgoe Song Writing Competition and the GSA Morag Morris Spoken Word Competition, as well as initiating a formalised whole school student voice system of weekly minuted year group meetings.
An experienced programme leader, Anna has designed, written and created GSA's BA (Hons) Theatre, BA (Hons) Applied and Contemporary Theatre, MA Theatre and MFA Theatre programmes. She has taught on the Foundation Acting, Foundation Musical Theatre, BA Acting, BA Actor Musician, BA Applied and Contemporary Theatre, BA Dance, BA Musical Theatre, BA Theatre, BA Theatre and Performance, MA Creative Practices and Direction, MA Theatre, MFA Acting and MFA Musical Theatre programmes at GSA.
Anna has served on a number of committees at university and faculty level. At university level she has been a member of the Teaching Quality and Valuing Teaching working group, the Student Experience Subcommittee, the Student Success Subcommittee, the Quality and Standards Subcommittee, the Student Charter task and finish group, the Nudges Project task and finish group, and the Curriculum Design Review advisory groups for Wellbeing and for Assessment. At faculty level she has served on the Faculty Executive Board, the Learning and Teaching Committee/Education Forum and the Quality Curriculum Management task and finish group. Anna has chaired validation panels and been a panellist on periodic review and enhancement panels for programmes across the university. She is also an experienced external examiner and external reviewer, having worked in a range of roles with Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, University of the Arts Bournemouth, University Centre Colchester and Goldsmiths, University of London.
University roles and responsibilities
- Director of Internationalisation, Partnerships and Outreach
04 AUG 2022
Teaching excellence at the University of Surrey brings double win at prestigious Advance HE awards
In the media
Postgraduate research supervision
Current supervision includes:
- Musical Theatre Pedagogies
- Dance Anthropology
As an award winning teacher, Anna has taught across all levels of education from primary school settings all the way through to PhD level, specialising in Acting, Performance, Theatre, Dance, Singing and Pedagogy. She has been an examiner for GCSE Drama, an external examiner for BA (Hons) Acting and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programmes and a professional advisor for BA (Hons) Acting programmes and the Trinity College London examination performance syllabi.
At GSA she has taught on the Foundation Acting and Musical Theatre programmes, the BA (Hons) Acting, Actor-Musician, Applied and Contemporary Theatre, Dance, Musical Theatre, Theatre and Theatre and Performance programmes, as well as on the MA Theatre and MFA Acting and Musical Theatre programmes and is a supervisor for PhD Theatre and Dance candidates.