Many years ago my life was changed for the better when I encountered the brave new world of inclusive performing arts in London. I founded Total Ensemble in 2011 because there was nowhere to continue or develop this experience in Norfolk.
I trained in contemporary dance during the late 80’s. In class I enjoyed many a laugh with one of my peers, Adam Benjamin, who went on to found Candoco. His drive and brilliance inspired me enormously. Those early days and indeed years of Candoco were nothing short of revolutionary.
After performing in comedy revue and theatre in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe, I trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and went on to work at Chickenshed.
Here, I performed alongside people with extreme challenges, both physical and emotional. I experienced first-hand their refusal to let anything stop them from following their dreams to perform.
Someone had to facilitate this alongside those that wanted and/or needed support – and I do not mean non-disabled people helping the disabled – I mean everyone helping everyone in the best way they could. I experienced that at Chickenshed for the first time. The real work and play of creating and performing with every type of human, all of us vulnerable, some more than others and all of us united in performance. I witnessed artists and educators of all abilities working tirelessly and passionately to create a space where very different types of people could meet and become equals in their endeavours.
I have always believed that difference and crucially, heart-felt and actioned acceptance of difference, an authentic celebration of difference, among all of us human beings, is what makes humankind tick.
I have always been drawn to the person that unwittingly outshines everyone from the sidelines by simply being themselves, or one that flies in leftfield and surprises everyone, jolting them out of their safe, slumbering herd-mentality and social restraint.
Words are rapidly losing their power with overuse, misuse, abuse, buzz words, political correctness, platitudes, and opinion. If we rely more on language and less on action to attain good social change, standards of living, freedom of expression and all the rest, we might not make the world a better place after all!
Inclusion and inclusive are among the first words I would like to see disappear due to lack of necessity. If we continue to allow circumstances whereby we still need to use words like that, so be it, until we finally GET it. But lets GET it quicker!
Performance and inclusion are inseparable if the full, unfettered human story is to be told and lived out on stage, or anywhere else for that matter.
Founder and Artistic Director
Total Ensemble Theatre Company
- Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Diploma – Professional Acting, accredited by University of the West of England (Bristol) Winner: best comedy actress, Peter Ackerman Comedy Award.
- BA HONS Performance Arts
Major – contemporary dance
- Dancer – Grief project – Glass House Dance – Theatre Royal Norwich 2020
- Dancer – Circadian – Rosemary Lee – First Light Festival, Lowestoft 2019
- Actor – Spindrift – Curious Directive – Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth 2016
- Actor/Singer – Alice on the Underground – Birmingham Rep & Queens Theatre, Hornchurch with Chickenshed Theatre Company
- Actor/Singer – High Society – No. 1 tour
- Singer – Let’s Do It – Chichester Festival Theatre
- Actor/Singer – Summer in the City – UK tour
- Actor/Singer – Sweet Charity – Battersea Arts Centre
- Actor/Dancer – Aladdin – White Rock Theatre, Hastings
- Actor/Dancer – Dangerous Nights – Jermyn Street Theatre, Piccadilly
- Singer – A Swinging Affair – Kings Head Theatre, Islington
- Actor – Beethoven’s Tenth – Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden
- Actor – Luxuriating Anonymous – the Man in the Moon, Kings Road & the Latchmere Theatre
- Actor – Newsrevue (the world’s longest running live comedy show!) – The Canal Cafe Theatre, Little Venice & Edinburgh Festival
- Actor – The Sketch – Camden Studio Theatre
- Actor/Singer – Let’s Do (Late) Lunch – Edinburgh Festival
- Actor – Grease – Theatre y werin – Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Making, Directing & Educational
- Total Ensemble Theatre Company 2011-present: Founder, Artistic Director and Producer
- The Garage, Norwich 2010-20: regular freelance engagements: Director of summer productions, youth and children’s theatre, script adaptor and theatre practitioner, adults, youth and children
- Norfolk Schools Project, Theatre Royal, Norwich – 4 opera projects over 2013 and 2014: Director
- City College, Norwich, School of Foundation Studies & RUG room (Regional Centre for learners with autistic spectrum disorders), 2007 – 2012: Sessional lecturer in Performing Arts
- Chickenshed Theatre, London, 2002-2006: Actor, Directing Team, Inclusive Support Coordinator, BTEC tutor (acting and voice)
- Freelance Contracts throughout Norfolk – 2007-present: Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Creative Partnerships, Creative Arts East, Future Projects and Aim Higher