Catherine McNamara

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PhD projects

Applied Theatre, community arts, LGBTQ community arts, trans youth work,

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Personal profile


An academic from a professional background in Applied Theatre and Drama Education, I am Head of School (Art, Design and Performance) within the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. I have a key role in ensuring that students have a high quality experience at the institution as they move towards careers in the creative and cultural sector. My work as Head of School involves overseeing the strategic and operational work that our 50+ staff and 850 students are undertaking within and outside of the University. 

After graduation, I did an MA in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London and a PGCE Drama at Central School of Speech and Drama. After several years teaching A Level and BTEC theatre and performance courses in Further Education and doing some teaching at Royal Holloway, I joined Central in 2003 as a Lecturer on the PGCE Drama programme. While there, I held various roles including Course Leader of the MA Applied Theatre (Drama in the Community & Drama Education) and latterly, Director of Learning, Teaching & Student Experience.  I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2019.

I am a project partner in the Wellcome Trust funded 'Rethinking Sexology' project based at the University of Exeter. I am contributing to the Transformations: Encountering Gender and Science Public Engagement project. I also lead the TransActing project which is a collaboration with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Gendered Intelligence. I am the Project Lead for an Innovation project working in partnership with Active Communities Network to create a safeguarding tool for use in raising awareness of Child Criminal Exploitation. 

I am a co-founder of and member of the Board of Trustees for Gendered Intelliegence, an organisation that works to improve the lives of trans, non-binary and gender diverse people. Inclusivity is a core principle in my work. I am a member of the Board for the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. 

Research Interests

My work has included practice research into the benefits of voice workshops for transgender communities, a collaborative play-writing project run in conjunction with Fringe Benefits Theatre Company (Los Angeles, US), which led to a performance and workshop being delivered nationally (2008-2011), INTERarts, an intergenerational arts project with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer identified people and more recently the TransActing project, a collaboration between the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, My Genderation and Gendered Intelligence.

My work usually involves engagement with community participants as a significant element. My work was the focus of an Impact Case Study in REF2014 for example. The research I undertake informs and is informed by my arts practice with a wide range of collaborators and participants.   

Recent publications include ‘Methods and Approaches for Working with Trans, Non-binary and Gender Diverse Young People in the UK’ in The Handbook of Youth Work Practice, Eds. Pam Alldred, Fiona Cullen et al, London: SAGE (2018) and ‘A Complex Matrix of Identities: Working Intergenerationally with LGBTQ people’ in Minding the Knowledge Gap, eds. Sue Westwood and Andrew King, London: Routledge (2018).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D., Queen Mary University of London

Award Date: 20 Sep 2009

External positions

Acting Dean, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

1 Jan 201816 Apr 2018

Director of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

201520 Dec 2018

Pro-Dean (Students), The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama


Deputy Dean of Studies, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama


Deputy Head of Postgraduate Studies, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama


Lecturer and Course Leader, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama



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