Handing theatre on, supporting and learning from others is key to creative theatre making. At Theatre Absolute we have a proud track record for encouraging and nurturing other artists and makers, whether just starting out, volunteering, or at any career level. We all learn from one another and fantastic collaborations can occur. Over the years we have worked with some fabulous people.
Our current associates are listed below. Find them, check them out, whatever their field of work know that these people are talented, hard working and inspire us!
Dr Shahnaz Akhter – Shahnaz has just gained her PHD from the University of Warwick, her work looked at the discourse of British Muslims. She comments “Writing about non-mainstream voices, both within my PHD and within my playwriting is something that I am very passionate about. Theatre especially, provides a medium to tell stories of past and current events which are not always heard and brings these to life. I discovered Theatre Absolute through Coventry Peace Week and a phone call later found myself sitting near the windows, discussing writing for a scripted reading on a piece called The Stranger. Working with Julia and Chris helped inspire a love of play writing, and I am currently working on a piece inspired from an @38 session on mental health, which is an important for the body as any other kind of health.
Ola Animashawun – Ola is the National Theatre Connections Dramaturg and the co-founder and Creative Director of the playwriting consultancy, Euphoric Ink. He is also a former Associate Director of the Royal Court Theatre, where he worked for 23 years, during which time he founded and ran the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, and set up a nationwide writers’ programme, dedicated to finding and nurturing new African, Caribbean, Asian and other ethnic minority playwrights – Critical Mass. Ola has worked in theatre for over 30 years, with 20 of those years dedicated to specialising in script development as a dramaturg and facilitator. He is an Associate Artist, Dramaturg and Mentor for Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Theatre Absolute, Eclipse Theatre and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
His other skills include, acting, directing, devising and writing. He is also a patron of Graeae Theatre and Script Yorkshire.
Ashley James Brown – Ashley is an internationally respected electronic artist and developer based in Coventry working at the intersection of design and code. As a creative technologist, Ashley works in collaboration with many cultural organisations, private businesses, collaborations, groups and individual artists to realise their creative potential with technology. Either directly as the creator of technology enabled experiences, or as a consultant, Ashley has over 7 years experience working with a wide variety of software and hardware, often at the cutting edge of digital technology. His work has involved producing immersive theatre shows, gallery installations, outdoor locative games, augmented devices and interactive experiences.
Within his own practice Ashley explores shared emotive experiences using technology as his medium to create his own digital playgrounds. Often playful and always interactive his works involves code, sound and objects that invoke real world feelings that go beyond staring at screens. He produces and performs electronic music and has scored several short dance films and performances as well as his output on various international record labels. Ashley also teaches and lectures across the country to a variety of age groups and is passionate about engaging people in computer programming through a visual arts approach.
Cristina Catalina – Cristina is an actor, producer, and translator. Her Eastern European roots brought her to Theatre Absolute, where she played amongst other characters a Polish optimist reimagining realities in Steve Waters’ brilliant triptych Far From the Sea. As producer, she invited the company’s surprising and beautifully intimate piece in a bed The Sleep Project to be part of the All Change Fun Palace at the Lyric Hammersmith in London. She lived her dream of being locked in a confined space for a day in the short film Truck, produced by Julia Negus and directed by Brian Harley. Other work she has presented at the Shop Front Theatre have been a workshop on Failure and work-in-progress The Museum of Our Forgotten Selves, both for Firehouse Creative Productions, and a monologue commissioned by TAB entitled The Things We Tell Ourselves. She has also led groups of students from Coventry University to explore different ways of making theatre.
Though life outside TAB barely seems worth living, in her spare time she acts (predominantly in medical dramas on the BBC, and soon to be released rom-com feature I’m Not In Love by Col Spector), produces for Dash Arts, translates for The Royal Court, and looks after her young son.
Jennifer Davis – Jennifer is a theatre director with a particular interest in new writing and revivals. She is a Junior Associate at the King’s Head Theatre and an Associate Artist with Theatre Absolute. Jennifer was a Director on the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Foundry programme (2014 – 2015) and graduated from the King’s Head Theatre’s Trainee Resident Director programme in 2016. Her directing credits include: A Haunting (Belgrade Theatre, VAULT Festival and King’s Head Theatre); (sorry) (Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe Festival) Adam & Eve (Hope Theatre) and Cheetah Sisters (Belgrade Theatre). Associate directing credits include: Strangers in Between (King’s Head Theatre and Trafalgar Studios).
In 2014 Jennifer co-founded Shoot Festival: a platform for early career artists making work in Coventry and Warwickshire. In April 2019 the festival returned for its fourth event and showcased work from 30 emerging artists as well as masterclasses and workshops. Shoot Festival is supported and mentored by the Belgrade Theatre as one of their Springboard Companies.
Helen Delaney – Helen is the volunteer co-ordinator at the Shop Front Theatre. Helen is responsible for front of house and box office duties and supports and guides new volunteers. Other work apart from the Shop Front Theatre includes being a sports coach mentor. Helen is also a Coventry allotment holder. Apart from the Shop Front Theatre, Cornwall is one of her favourite places.
Miriam Grace Edwards – Miriam was a member of The Chester Gateway Youth Theatre before going on to train at The Birmingham Theatre School. Theatre credits include ‘Midland Creative in association with The Belgrade Theatre’ (The Hundred Years’ War-National Tour), ‘Theatre Absolute’ (Powder), MAC (Epiphany), Tea and Tenacity (First Do No Harm), The Belgrade Theatre (Unplugged), Pendle Productions (Flesh and Blood), DT Productions (Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell-National tour), Blue Orange Arts (Dracula), Opus Theatre Company (The Importance of Being Earnest-National tour, Chip Off The Block-National tour, Rattle of a Simple Man-regional tour), Ay Mango Theatre (A Woman Of No Importance), Rogue Play (Measure for Measure). During training Miriam played Linda in ‘Brave New World’, Queen Margaret in ‘Richard III’, Julie in ‘Playing By The Rules’ and Prospero in ‘The Tempest’. Film/TV/Radio credits include Extracts from Powder for BBC Radio, 50 Ways to Lose Your Lover for Current TV, Inspector Drake; The Seagull (Flying Ducks), Red (Met Film School). Miriam is a voice over artist and her voice has been used for adverts, computer games and cartoons. Miriam hosted Jazz Sessions on Rhubarb Radio-a local independent radio station.
Cathryn Goodwin – Cathryn is a project and event manager with over 30 years experience. From an original training in technical theatre she worked as a Stage Manager in local repertory theatre for over ten years, graduating over time into becoming a project/event manager working with artists, in a wide variety of formal and informal settings, to develop their creative projects, and, latterly, their creative businesses. She currently manages a European funded project (based at Coventry University) that supports creative individuals to develop their creative businesses. On a freelance basis she has worked (and continues to work) on many large and small scale outdoor performance events, operating in close partnerships, and communicating on a wide range of levels, with local authorities and other agencies to deliver safe, effective and appropriate event support. Her skills are in people management and effective communication.
Mark Hancock – Mark works as a Digital Producer, often within the corporate world. But every now and then he escapes and manages to find respite in the warming glow of the creative fires of live performance and critical arts writing. He is currently an art critic for The Wire magazine and Furtherfield, and once wrote some art-related things for the BBC. But he never mentions it. Mark often finds himself on stage creating short, scratch performance type productions that tend to falter to a stumbling end with confused looks from everyone in the room. This tends to satiate a desire to show off, but soon enough he’ll rise again and inflict something new on the world. He has taken part in Theatre Absolute’s writing gyms, so in many ways, it’s their fault.
Charlie Ingram – Charlie is a academic and a freelance director/producer working mainly in pursuit of his own company New Project Theatre, he has also been a previous intern for Theatre Absolute. Charlie has worked to establish the company by directing and producing shows such as Behind Bars: A Selection of Stories (2013), Struggle (2016) and more recently Confessions – Part 1, 2 and 3 (2019). Now in the process of working towards a PhD at Coventry University, Charlie’s practice is focussed on the exploration of theatre practitioners, verbatim theatre storytelling, and using theatre methods as research tools. Charlie’s PhD project will be focussing on assessing whether the City of Culture 2021 year will have an impact on how Coventry is perceived as a city by its residents. If you have an opinion about Coventry that you would like to share, Charlie would love to hear from you. Email: Ingramc5@uni.coventry.ac.uk
Lou Lomas – Lou is an Independent Outdoor Producer, producing work for the Outdoors and alternative theatre spaces. She has worked with Talking Birds Theatre Company for the past five years as a Freelance Producer, Project manager, she is a Tour booker for companies regionally and nationally: Appetite Stoke, Making More Outdoor Arts, Imagineer Productions, Pif-Paf, The Bone Ensemble, Everybody Dance, Theatre Absolute, The Fabularium. She is also the Associate programmer for the Festival of Imagineers. Lou is passionate about Outdoor work in the region and the development of new street theatre. Twitter: @LouLomas
Andrew Moore – Andrew is a graphic designer and photographer. He is also creative director for Pixeltrix based in Coventry. He’s been working with Theatre Absolute for over 20 years. Andrew is a mentor and provides support to small arts organisations and independent artists within Coventry.
Derek Nisbet – Derek is a Composer, Musician, Sound designer & Theatre/Film-maker who specialises in creating music for unusual situations. He is Co-Artistic Director of acclaimed theatre experimentalists Talking Birds and has created scores and sound designs for over 50 theatre productions. His work includes Troy Story – An Intergalactic Opera commissioned by Orchestra of the Swan, performed at Town Hall, Birmingham by a cast and orchestra nearly 200 strong; One Voice, commissioned for Holocaust Memorial Day, and performed as part of the UK’s national commemoration event; and Twin Song, a symphonic poem premiered by the Volgograd Children’s Symphony Orchestra at Coventry Cathedral. His work with some of the leading artists and companies of the day including Claire Cunningham (Guide Gods), Ockham’s Razor (Arc and The Mill), Untied Artists (Intimate History) and Theatre Absolute (Cool Water Murder, Powder, Far From The Sea) has been performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, the Lillian Bayliss Theatre at Sadler’s Wells, the Shop Front Theatre and at venues in Moscow, Vancouver and Sweden. His music has been heard on BBC Radio 3 (Late Junction) and BBC Radio 4 (The Balloonists, Dr Pfeffer’s Lonely Hearts Club and Messages to a Submariner).
website: Derek Nisbet twitter: @dereknisbet10
Vanessa Oakes – Vanessa writes plays and text for a wide variety of people and spaces. Her words have been performed in theatres, art galleries and museums, community spaces, coal vaults, beneath a ring road, in an award-winning bungalow and at Latitude.
She is a member of Bold Text Playwrights Collective who have curated 20 new writing nights at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and recently revived their hit site-specific show ‘Behind Bars – Ghosts of the Lock-Up’ at Steelhouse Lane in Birmingham. BOLDtext will be leading a guided walk along Digbeth High Street as part of this year’s Birmingham Weekender.
Excerpts from Vanessa’s latest play ‘Mademoiselle F’ will be shown at BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health Festival (2019), and in December a new play for Nottingham based Meander Theatre will be showcased at the Attenborough Centre, Leicester. She is currently working with Sayan Kent on HER DAY, a new opera.
Vanessa is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.
Paul O’Donnell – Paul is a theatre maker, performer and producer who aims to expose the ‘ordinary’ in a ‘spectacular’ fashion. He is proud to be Associate Artist at both Birmingham Repertory Theatre and with Theatre Absolute and has toured his work both nationally and internationally. His solo show We’ve Got Each Other; the almost entirely imagined Bon Jovi musical, has earned four awards including two Audience Awards (BE Festival, FITT Festival Tarragona), received critical acclaim as well as a shout out on the TV from Frank Skinner. Paul is currently working on his Balls!; an incredibly camp show about the butch-ness of football. Do look out for Paul’s Balls! when it hits a theatre near you in Autumn 2020!!
Paul also co-found and co-directs Shoot Festival; Coventry’s biennial platform which supports and develops homegrown talent based in CV postcodes. He is a proud Cov Lad! Shoot Festival
Jon Randle – Jon is the director of Mindriot Productions, a specialist film and video production company based in Coventry. Work includes online and video content for corporate videos, events coverage, theatre and arts trailer and promotion work. Mindriot also provide filming services, post-production and full HD motion graphics titles or info graphic animations. Mindriot Productions
Stephanie Ridings – Stephanie is a writer and theatre maker who endeavours to develop work, which is accessible to all audiences, that tries to make sense of the world and embodies human universal themes at its core.
Steph has worked with Theatre Absolute on, Are We Where We Are, City Voices and Live Briefs with Coventry University 3rd year students. Recently she has written for Talking Birds, Walk With Me: Stoke, Tales from Coventry Table and was commissioned by City of Culture 2021 to contribute to the #HumansofCov body of work. Her own work includes, The Fear of Fear, commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, The Road to Huntsville a Bitesize commission and winner of an Arts Voice award, Dylan’s Parents for Live Lunch at the Royal Court and Unknown Male, produced with Birmingham REP and winner of the Peter Brook/Mark Marvin award. Steph has recently received funding from The Road to 2021 fund and Arts Council England to develop a new community lead project Tappin’ In, which will pilot in 2020. www.stephanieridings.com
Sneha Singh – Sneha trained as a Bollywood dancer, and has been performing and choreographing Bollywood dance performances for over five years in England. With a mixture of small Bollywood workshops, to events with audiences of up to 300, Sneha says, “for me the stage is home like no other.” Sneha can modern Bollywood, Indian Folk Dance (Garba, Dandiya and Bhangra). She has recently created and delivered Bollywood Workshops for local Cultural events in Coventry and has been associated with Coventry Belgrade Mela at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for two years. Sneha now lives in Mumbai, India.
Richard Walls – Richard is a playwright and theatre-maker. His play Fugue in a Minor Key (Shop Front Theatre, 2018) was the first play commissioned by the Coventry ‘Road to 2021’ fund. His collaborations with actor Rishard Beckett (Instrumental, 2017; The Yellow Post-It Notes, 2016) featured heavily in Coventry’s City of Culture bid. Previous work includes Clubmartyr (Old Red Lion, 2016); Violet Fields (Royal Court Live Lunch, 2016); Damsel/Wife/Witch (co-written with Laura Attridge and Lewis Murphy; Peckham Asylum, 2016); Accidental Brummie (co-written with writers from the Birmingham Rep Foundry; Birmingham Rep, 2016); and Powder (Theatre Absolute, 2014). He holds an MA in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths College and a BA in Theatre and Performance from the University of Warwick.
Dr Geoff Willcocks – Geoff is Director of Arts and Culture at Coventry University, where he was also formerly the Head of Department for Performing Arts. He is also the Chair of Coventry’s Music Education Hub and the Chair of Music Coventry. Geoff has also advised ACE on the role of Higher Education in UK Culture, is a member of the Advisory Board for Ludic Rooms, the CU Social Enterprise Advisory board and is a member of the Executive Committee for Coventry’s 2021 City of Culture.