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Project Leaders

Colin Ellwood has taught and directed at most of the UK’s leading drama schools and was Programme Director for the Rose Bruford Directing BA, of which recent graduates include the three current youngest building–based Artistic Directors in the UK as well as multiple winners of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme and of many other awards including the recent winners of the Young Vic Genesis Futures Award [2016], the James Menzies Kitchen Young Director Award [2016]; Royal Court and Orange Tree Trainee Directorships and Associate Director appointments at the RSC, Lyric Hammersmith, Donmar, Edinburgh Lyceum and elsewhere, as well as of the Off-West-End Best Director and WhatsOnStage Best Production awards, and of several London Evening Standard Theatre Award nominations, an Edinburgh Fringe First and both a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society Award.

Currently Joint Artistic Director of Presence Theatre, Simon Usher has staged major productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and in London’s West End. He has been Artistic Director at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and Associate Director of the Leicester Haymarket. Further credits include The World’s Biggest Diamond, Herons, Mother Teresa is Dead and Black Milk (Royal Court), King Baby and Tamar’s Revenge (Royal Shakespeare Company), Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads (National Theatre), Timon of Athens, The Broken Heart, Pericles and The Winter’s Tale (Leicester Haymarket), Pond Life, Not Fade Away, The Mortal Ash and Card Boys (The Bush), Burning Everest and Exquisite Sister (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Mr Puntilla and His Man Matti and Holes in the Skin (Chichester Festival Theatre), Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Waiting for Godot, Hamlet and Whole Lotta Shakin’ (Coventry Belgrade), Great Balls of Fire (Cambridge Theatre, West End), No Man’s Land (English Touring Theatre) and The Wolves (Paines Plough).


Mike Alfreds founded the theatre company Shared Experience in 1975 and acted as its Artistic Director until 1987 when he joined the National Theatre as an Associate Director. He became the Artistic Director for the Cambridge Theatre Company in 1991, which was later re-named Method and Madness in 1995. Mike’s book Different Every Night (2007) explicates his directing methodology and includes a detailed description of his points of concentration exercise.


James Dacre is Artistic Director of Royal and Derngate in Northampton. He studied English at Cambridge University and went on to study Theatre Directing at Columbia University School of Arts on a Fulbright Scholarship. James has previously worked as an Associate Director at the New Vic Theatre and Theatre503.


Sarah Esdaile studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths, University of London and studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths, University of London and then went on to complete the directing course at the National Theatre Studio in 1995. Sarah acted as Assistant Director at Shakespeare’s Globe and at the RSC for two seasons. She has directed productions at The Finborough, BAC, The Arcola, The Bush, Birmingham Rep, Octagon Bolton, The Royal Exchange, and The West Yorkshire Playhouse.



Sir Richard Eyre succeeded Sir Peter Hall as Artistic Director of the Royal National Theatre in 1988 until his departure in 1997, with acclaimed productions of Guys and Dolls, Richard III, King Lear and David Hare’s trilogy of plays Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges, and The Absence of War. Before his tenure at the NT he directed productions at the Phoenix in Leicester, the Nottingham Playhouse, and then went on to become Director of Productions at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. In 2000 Sir Richard presented the documentary series Changing Stages chronicling the history of British theatre. His film and television credits include Tumbledown, Iris, Notes on a Scandal, and The Dresser.

Valerie Gogan trained at LAMDA. She made her film debut in Dangerous Liaisons. She later starred in One More Kiss and Heart of the High Country and had a major recurring role in the BBC series Hamish Macbeth. She is also known for principal roles in Waking the Dead, The Bill, Doctors, Peak Practice and David Copperfield. On stage, she has worked with The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre and in London’s West End, appearing in, among others, A Doll’s House, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Rehearsal and The Secret Rapture.

Sean Holmes began his career as a trainee director at the Orange Tree Theatre in 1993. He has worked with the RSC and staged productions at the Donmar Warehouse, the Old Vic, the Royal Court, Theatre Royal Haymarket, and the Tricycle Theatre. Sean became Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in 2009. In 2011 he won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate theatre for his production of Sarah Kane’s Blasted and directed the first London production for twenty-seven years of Edward Bond’s Saved.


Adrian Jackson is the founder and Artistic Director of Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company dedicated to making work with and for people who are homeless. He has directed over thirty productions with the company, often devising his own performances and writing original plays. Adrian teaches the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology across the globe.


Kristine Landon Smith originally trained as an actress and then later moved into directing and teaching. She co-founded Tamasha Theatre in 1989, directing such acclaimed productions as the Olivier Award nominated East Is East (1996). Kristine has directed at the Royal Court Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Palace Theatre Westcliff, Nitro, Yellow Earth Theatre, and The Royal Danish Theatre.


Jack Tarlton is the Joint Artistic Director of Presence Theatre. For Presence Jack has directed the staged readings of The DeepEmperor Fukushima, Now That’s What I Call MusicThe Frugal Horn and The Returnings and conceived and co-created The Animal (You) and developed CHORALE – A Sam Shepard Roadshow. He also curated the company’s Festival Season in 2015 and 2016, co-leading the Reading Group Live! events and Shakespeare workshops. His acting credits include BRENDA (HighTide and The Yard), Hedda Gabler (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), Pitcairn (Out of Joint, Chichester Festival Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe), From Morning to Midnight, Coram Boy and Once in a A Lifetime (National Theatre), A Doll’s House, Rats’ Tales and She Stoops to Conquer (Royal Exchange Theatre). On television he has appeared in Doctors, The Golden Hour, Dead Ringers, Doctor Who, and The Genius of Mozart. Film work includes The Imitation Game, Nora, and The Unscarred.


Stephen Unwin studied English at Cambridge University and began his career at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh as Associate Director until 1988. He founded the English Touring Theatre in 1993 and has directed productions at the Royal Court, the Old Vic, the Donmar Warehouse, and the Lyric Hammersmith. Stephen is the author of So You Want to be a Theatre Director? (2004) and A Guide to the Plays of Bertolt Brecht (2005).




Natalie Wilson began her career with 7:84 Scotland as Assistant Director and later moved to the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme as Associate Director. She became Artistic Director of Theatre Centre in 2007. Theatre Centre specialise in making work with and for young people and to develop new writing.

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