Simon Sladen is responsible for the History of Design’s Performance pathway and supervises dissertation students working on performance-related topics.
Prior to joining the RCA in 2017, Simon lectured on theatre and performance undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Winchester and Syracuse University, New York. He joined the V&A in 2012 and has been Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance since 2015.
School, Centre or Area
Simon is interested in how celebrity often disrupts structures of performance and can lead to new interpretations and practices, as well as how perceptions of tradition and Nation are inherited, interpreted and enacted. Recent research has focused on cross-dressed performance, costume, iconography and training in contemporary British Pantomime. Simon is Chair of the Society for Theatre Research, on the editorial board of the British Theatre Guide, a member of the Shakespeare North Museum panel and chairs the Academic Advisory Board of Blackpool Museum.
Simon's key curatorial projects to date include a large-scale HLF project around the acquisition of the Peter Brook Collection and curation of displays and exhibitions Censored: Stage, Screen, Society at 50, Ivan Kyncl: In the Minute and Laughing Matters: The State of a Nation. Simon is currently working on the V&A’s major exhibition for 2020: Alice in Wonderland. Simon’s own research focuses on the field of popular culture, in particular comedy and pantomime.
(2013) Stephen Joseph Award, Society for Theatre Research for research into pantomime traditions and genre evolution
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
Sladen, S. and Bailey, K. (eds) (2020). Alice in Wonderland. London: V&A Publishing.
Alice in Wonderland (2020) [Exhibition] Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 27 June 2020 – Jan 2021.
Sladen, S. (2020). ‘Wicked Queens of Pantoland’ in Edward, M. and Farrier, S. (eds) Drag Histories, Herstories and Herstories: Drag in a Changing Scene (Vol. 2). London: Bloomsbury.
Laughing Matters: The State of a Nation (2019) [Exhibition] Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 29 March 2019 – 2022.
Ivan Kyncl: In the Minute (2019) [Exhibition] Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 19 February – 7 July 2019.
Censored: Stage, Screen, Society at 50 (2018) [Exhibition] Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 10 July 2018 – 21 Jan 2019.
Sladen, S. (2018). Design for Pantomime in eds. Long, Philip and Norman, Joanna. The Story of Scottish Design. London: Thames and Hudson / V&A. pp. 144–145.
Sladen, S. (2017). From Mother Goose to Master: Training Networks and Knowledge Transfer in Modern British Pantomime. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (Special Popular Performance Issue), 8(2), pp. 206–224.
Sladen, S. (2017). Hiya Fans: Celebrity Reception in Modern British Pantomime in eds. Ainsworth, Adam, Double, Oliver and Peacock, Louise. Popular Performance: A Reader. London: Methuen Drama. pp. 184–208.
Sladen, S. (2014). The Death of the Dame? Tales from the National Database of Pantomime Performance. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 35 (1), pp. 80–89.
Sladen, S. (2012). The globality of pantomime: a brief excursion. Popular Entertainment Studies, 3(2), pp. 65–71.
External collaborations and activities
Chair: Society of Theatre Research
Academic Advisory Board Chair: Blackpool Museum
External Examiner: University of Kingston BA(Hons) Drama and Theatre Arts
External Examiner: Wimbledon College of Arts BA (Hons) Costume Design, BA (Hons) Costume Interpretation