Dr Naomi Paxton Awarded the TaPRA Early Career Research Prize | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Congratulations to Central’s Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Naomi Paxton, who has been awarded the prestigious TaPRA Early Career Research Prize.

The TaPRA Early Career Research Prize is awarded to a UK-based researcher who, at the time of nomination, is either within 8 years of being awarded a PhD or within 6 years of appointment to their first teaching /research post. The research for which an individual is nominated may be in any theatre or performance discipline or area (including practice-based/applied work) and must have been published or first made available in the public domain within 24 months of the nomination date.

Naomi was nominated for her body of work in suffrage theatre and performance

Of the Award, Central’s Director of Research Professor Maria Delgado said:

“We are delighted that in the year where Naomi also received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, she is also the recipient of the TaPRA Early Career Researcher Prize in recognition of her extraordinary body of work on the theatre of the suffrage movement – research that has taken many shapes and forms, from a monograph to an exhibition.  Naomi has a vision of research as an outward facing activity that embraces public engagement and knowledge exchange.  This is excellent news for Naomi and for Central.”

Dr Naomi Paxton said:

“I am honoured to receive this prize from TaPRA for my extensive and varied body of work on suffrage theatre and performance. From the beginning of my doctoral studies it was important for me to share my research findings in accessible, creative and interesting ways with both specialist and non-specialist audiences. This has led to collaborations and interdisciplinary partnerships that continue to inspire new research avenues and new outreach and engagement opportunities. I am grateful to the nominees and to the judging panel for recognising the academic rigour of my work across a range of outputs.”  

The Theatre & Performance Research Association said:

“TaPRA is delighted to award its 2019 Early Career Researcher Prize to Dr Naomi Paxton, whose work represents a fresh, detailed account of an important period of British theatre. Her rigorously researched monograph, Stage Rights! (Manchester University Press, 2018), traces the significance of the Actresses’ Franchise League from their founding in 1908, through the outbreak of WWI and into the mid twentieth-century. By interrogating its activities in terms of a blurring between ‘acting’ and ‘being’, the panel noted that Dr Paxton offers an unexpected extension of existing analyses of the AFL’s work and prompts new readings of the function of theatre in/as society. Additionally, in advancing understandings of theatrical, political, and social activism in the women’s suffrage movement, Dr Paxton’s impactful methods of public engagement (in the form of games, guided walks, exhibition and performances) have made her research accessible to audiences beyond the academy in innovative ways.”

As a part of her award, Naomi will be invited to present a keynote lecture at TaPRA’s annual conference in 2020.

The Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) was formed by a group of senior academics in theatre and performance eager to promote the growth of research in the field by fostering a co-operative and collaborative ethos that would benefit postgraduate students, early career researchers and provide a platform for everyone interested in sharing the diverse discoveries of the discipline.  Since its first conference in 2004, TaPRA has grown from a handful of working groups to over 400 members both within the UK and abroad.  Its annual conference is hosted in the Autumn and is, each year, hosted at a different University.  Naomi will deliver her keynote address at the 2020 conference, due to be held in Liverpool. 

Naomi is a 2019 British Star Rising Star Engagement Award recipient and an AHRC/BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker.  Since completing her doctoral studies in 2015 Naomi has worked as Research Associate on the AHRC-funded project Poor Theatres at the University of Manchester, as Cultural Engagement Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and London Hub Convenor for the Being Human Festival. As Research Assistant for the AHRC-funded What Difference Did the War Make? World War One and Votes for Women project she curated an exhibition in Parliament, organised events in Lincoln, Plymouth and London, and contributed to numerous events and activities around the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act. In 2018 she was nominated for a Parliamentary Diversity and Inclusion Award for her work with the Vote 100 team.

Naomi edited two highly regarded collections of suffrage plays with Bloomsbury Methuen Drama in 2013 and 2018, both launched at the National Theatre. She curated an exhibition at the National Theatre in 2018 entitled Dramatic Progress: Votes for Women and the Edwardian Stage, and  her monograph Stage Rights! was published in 2018 by Manchester University Press. Naomi is a presenter for BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme, the MC for Museums Showoff, and Carry on Curating at the V&A, and regularly speaks about her research in public and in the media.

She has been Knowledge Exchange Fellow at Central since 2018.

Naomi has a vision of research as an outward facing activity that embraces public engagement and knowledge exchange.  This is excellent news for Naomi and for Central.

Professor Maria Delgado, Central’s Director of Research