Handing theatre on, and 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 independent companies, whether emerging or mid-career. 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!
Shahnaz Akhter – I am currently working on my PHD at Warwick University, looking at the discourse of British Muslims. 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.
Ola Animashawun – Ola is Creative Director for Euphoric Ink, a playwriting consultancy, Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre, Freelance Script Editor, Dramaturg, Presenter and Outdoor Theatre Producer. He was the founder and former Head of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme (youth, community, and education department) – which included the creation and formation of the Critical Mass Playwriting Programme in 2004 – designed to create a critical mass of black, minority ethnic writers for contemporary Britain – spurning award winning writers such as Levi David Addai; Bola Agbaje; Alia Bano; Michael Bhim; Rachel De-lahay and Janice Okoh and many others besides. Awards include: 2009 – Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea recipient of a Mayor’s Award for Services to young people, 2007 – TMA Award Winner for promoting diversity in the industry. Ola’s most recent work includes: a new playwrights group in London, The Inkubator, co-producing a massive outdoor street arts festival in Birmingham, The Birmingham Weekender, being the lead playwriting tutor for Sustained Theatre’s International New Writing Programme in South Africa; directing two new shows in Vicky Featherstone’s inaugural season as the new Artistic Director of the Royal Court, directing a ground breaking site specific and online interactive promenade performance for the RSC on Adelaide Road in London; directing two shows for Coventry’s Theatre Absolute as part of their Shop Front Theatre programme; directing a street show for the Belgrade Theatre Community and Education company as part of the ‘Mysteries’ programme in 2009 and working as the company’s dramaturg on the ‘New Black Showcase’ 1, 2 and 3 and the company’s ‘In Their Own Words – Immigration Project’.
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 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 Truck, produced by Julia Negus, and directed by Brian Harley, and currently she is co-organising a workshop on Failure kindly hosted at the Shop Front Theatre. She just can’t get enough of TAB!
Jen Davis – Jen graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2013, after reading Drama and Theatre Arts. She has directed plays for a number of new writing festivals including: How It Turned Out (RealDeal Theatre), Cheers (Attic Theatre), Self Reflection (Theatre Exchange) The Pudding Club, Looking Down (Lost Theatre) Community Not For Sale, Mouse and Lion (Sixteenfeet Productions). For the last twelve months she has been on the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s artist development programme: Foundry. Whilst being on the programme she has showcased work at their monthly scratch nights and directed Billy for their Home Theatre Project. Jen also works as a producer. Most recently, she assistant produced First Draft: a new writing festival in Lambeth. She is also the co-founder of ‘Shoot Festival’-a new platform for emerging artists making work in Coventry.
Helen Delaney – Helen is a founder Shop Keeper volunteer and organiser at the Shop Front Theatre since it opened in 2009. Helen co-ordinates front of house and box office duties and supports new volunteers at the Shop Front. Other work apart from the Shop Front Theatre includes sports coach and mentor and working as a marketing and sales coordinator at ACGO, Coventry. 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.
Laura Elliott – Laura is a cultural practitioner working as an artist, curator, project manager and developer of visual arts and contemporary heritage in the UK. She devises projects that connect people with place and that celebrate the peculiar and unconventional aspects of living in an old country. In addition to her independent and collaborative projects, Laura is Director of Artspace, Coventry and Co-Curator of their City Arcadia artistic programme.
website: Laura Elliott
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 Hancock 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.
Charles Ingram – Charles is a freelance director and producer working mainly in pursuit of his own company New Project Theatre, he has also been a previous intern for Theatre Absolute. After Graduating his undergraduate degree in drama from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2012, Charles has worked to establish the company by directing shows such as ‘Behind Bars: A Selection of Stories’, ‘A Series of Beckett Shorts’ and ‘Struggle’. His company has now been revived in the wake of him gaining a MRes Directing in 2016. Now working with the Belgrade Theatre in their Community & Education department, he hopes to further his company to move on to verbatim storytelling in the future whilst retaining the ideals of giving new and unpublished writers a platform to share their work.
Facebook: New Project Theatre Company
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.
website: Lou Lomas
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
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 Collective. Recent plays – 2015: An Act of Determining the Total Number of Something (Birmingham Rep), 2014: The Other Me (Birmingham Rep), A New Way of Living (andsome), Runaway Boy (Teatro Youth), A Diary Without Dates (Birmingham Rep), 2013: Do What You Do (NM&AG Centenary Community Tour Dec 2013 & April 2014), 2012: The Oracle of the Taprooms (George Eliot Writer in Residence), 2011: The Game Anew (Pentabus at Latitude), 2010: The Watched Sea (CAPITAL), The Permitted Number (Paines Plough), 2009: I Am Active (Red Teapot), The Kindness of Strangers (Warwick Words), Lost in Paradise CV6 (Belgrade Theatre), 2008: A Body Moving Through (the estate), 2007: Live Like Us (Belgrade Theatre).
Paul O’Donnell – Paul O’Donnell is a theatre maker, performer and creative producer based in Coventry. His work has toured to festivals, venues and events across the UK, such as Emergency Festival, Contact Theatre, Cheshire Rural Touring, Theatre Delicatessen and SLAP. He has also shown his work to international audiences, bringing his first solo show So Far West to an event in Portugal called Collaceo B. Paul has recently come out of a yearlong artist development scheme (Foundry) based at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, from which his solo performance Nothing! was programmed into the Rep’s calendar at the end of this year. His work explores identity as well as the roles ‘performance’ holds, both upon the stage and in terms of its social position; Paul aims to blur the lines between the two to make a theatrical spectacle out of the socially mundane.
Paul has also co-founded and co-produced Coventry’s Shoot Festival, a daylong event that first took place at Shop Front Theatre in November 2014. The festival offers a platform for emerging artists based in the city to showcase their work, make connections with each other and develop their material.
Simon Overington Hickford – Simon graduated from Coventry University in 2014 with a BA (Hons) in Theatre & Professional Practice. Simon enjoys working on a diverse range of roles within theatre and the Arts and he has previously volunteered with organisations including Herts Inclusive Theatre, The Lion’s Part and Trestle. He is also an alumnus of the Peer Productions training scheme, where he was involved in touring educational plays and using the Arts within community settings. He has previously worked with Theatre Absolute on Far from the Sea by Steve Waters. He currently pops up anywhere with free biscuits and occasionally works with emerging theatre company The Fabularium.
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.
Sneha Singh – Born in Mumbai, Sneha moved to England in 2006 to study and subsequently work. However, she has always sustained my passion for the arts, and as a trained Bollywood dancer, 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).
Although now based in London, 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. She was one of the performing artists at “Shoot Festival” at Theatre Absolute, Coventry, and collaborated with Chris Cook to produce a fusion set, and has since have gone on to become an associate artist with Theatre Absolute. Attached are links of the Belgrade Theatre South Asian Arts and Shoot Festivals.
Richard Walls – Richard is a Coventry-born writer and performer currently attached to the 2015 Birmingham Rep Foundry programme. His play, ‘Clubmartyr’, won the Judge’s Award at the 2014 Coventry Shoot Festival whilst his play, ‘Urban Legend’, was shortlisted for the Play for the Nation’s Youth Award. His play, ‘Powder’ was commissioned and produced by Theatre Absolute in 2013. After graduating with a BA in Theatre and Performance (University of Warwick, 2010) he was assistant to artistic director Peter Flynn at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York before completing an artistic apprenticeship with Theatre Absolute’s artistic director / writer Chris O’Connell upon his return home. He went on to study for an MA in Writing for Performance (Goldsmiths College, 2013) before graduating from both the Brockley Jack Writers’ Workshop and the Lyric Hammersmith Young Writers’ Programme.
Geoff Willcocks – Dr Geoff Willcocks 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 Bid. He co-authored the report, Shop Front Theatre: One Year On (2010), which examined Theatre Absolutes first year at the Shop Front Theatre.