Freelancers in the Dark End of Project Event Speakers

We’re hearing from lots of brilliant voices from across the theatre industry. See more on our speakers for each panel below.

Panel – Connecting through COVID: Freelancer-led support networks, Friday 25th March, 11.15am 

Fox Irving

Fox Irving is a South East based, Liverpool born, working class artist. Their art is shaped by the liminal, precarious identity they inhabit as queer/femme/working class. With a playful, D.I.Y approach informed by activist strategies and centering collaboration, Fox investigates how art can be used by marginalised communities that they are part of as a tool of empowerment. 

Nicky Harley

Nicky Harley (she/her) is a Theatre maker and actor currently based between Northern Ireland and London. She has been passionately involved in the freelancers movement in Northern Ireland over the past two years, helping to create and support meaningful connections between artists, researchers and government. She believes there are alternative routes to networking which further create a healthier artistic community, allowing the artist to support others whilst actively working in the arts… and generally ‘just enjoying yourself whilst doing it’. Independent projects have included: ArtistsNI and NI Theatre Collective 

Emma Spearing

Emma Spearing is an actor & emerging theatre maker (East 15 grad). Her work includes: ‘My Mother’ – Shunt, & feature films Red Call & The Silence After life. Emma’s debut show as theatre maker & writer ‘WHOLE’ previewed in Nov 2021 at Cambridge Junction with Work in Progress sharing’s at Arcola Outside. She also developed an audio version which is currently being streamed. Emma was awarded a New Ideas Award seed commission from Cambridge Junction to develop Whole with further support from Arts Council England & Metal, Southend. Whole was made in collaboration with award winning theatre maker Jamie Wood.  

Panel – Creative Changing in Uncertain Time: Theatrical Innovation in the Pandemic, Friday 25th March, 11.15am 

Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a benefit-class Playwright and Theatre-maker from Dagenham. She was the winner of the BBC Drama Award. Named in The Stage ‘Ones to Watch’ list 2018.  She has recently  completed the -invite only- Emerging Playwrights Program at The Bush Theatre. Currently on Hightide’s Playwrights cohort and Mercury Theatre’s Essex Voices.She writes autobiographically, with an emphasis on queerness, class, and her relationship to home. Recent credits include BUMP (HighTide Theatre and New Wolsey), Room to Escape (BBC Arts) Comma (Sherman Theatre) Garden Paradiso (Mercury Theatre) Tammy (Queens Theatre Hornchurch) The people’s platform (Commonwealth) She is currently on BBC Drama Room and has work in development with The Bush, The Mercury Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre.

Dylan Frankland

Dylan is a freelance theatremaker, performer, producer and Co-Artistic Director of award winning interactive theatre company Kill The Cat. His work uses interaction to tackle social issues, giving audiences agency and choice; placing them at the heart of the action. But above all creating a shared sense of community & play. Since lockdown his practice has explored how to create communal, interactive experiences online, including creating the award winning THE HOUSE NEVER WINS.

Rosemary Jenkinson

Rosemary Jenkinson is a playwright and short story writer from Belfast. She was 2017 Artist-in-Residence at the Lyric Theatre and is an Arts Council Major Artist. Plays include The Bonefire(winner of the Stewart Parker BBC Radio Award), The Winners, Johnny Meister + the Stitch, Basra Boy, Planet Belfast, Lives in Translation, May the Road Rise Up, Michelle and Arlene, White Star of the North, and Here Comes the Night. Her latest play is Billy Boy which will be touring to Edinburgh this year and she is currently writing a new play called Manichea for the Abbey Theatre.

Panel – Doing the Impossible: Strategies towards Productive Working Conditions Post-COVID, Friday 25th March, 2pm

Stephen Beggs

Stephen is an actor, writer, theatre director and producer. Writing credits include his self-performed solo shows, ‘The King Of East Belfast’, for Kabosh and ‘My Father’s Chair’. Theatre direction credits include productions for The C.S. Lewis Festival, Powerstone Entertainment, Festival of Fools and the EastSide Arts Festival. Stephen has been the Chair of Tinderbox Theatre Company since December 2019; he facilitates theatre and drama workshops for a wide range of schools and community groups. He is also the MC for Pigeon & Plum Vaudeville Circus Cabaret.

Harold Finley

Harold Finley is a director, writer, producer, Executive Director of Stage Directors U.K., Trustee Board member of Theatr Clwyd, and a member of Ambassador Theatre Group anti-racism and inclusion committee. Harold co-founded and produced the Black, Queer & Fierce! arts festival, which is recognised as the first arts festival from a Black and queer perspective. He wrote, directed and produced the award-winning play A Thousand Miles of History and is currently developing a new musical, Lulu (A Monster Musical), based on Wedekind’s Lulu Plays.

Jake Murray

Jake Murray is an award-winning theatre director with three decades of experience working in theatre all across the country. He is currently AD of Durham-based Elysium Theatre Company that tours the North with a particular emphasis on the North East. He has worked with writers including Tom Murphy, Brad Fraser, Janet Plater, Owen McCafferty, Amy Rosenthal, Duncan MacMillan, Gary Kitching, Steve Byron and David Williamson. Elysium’s work includes classics, contemporary plays and new writing, including the award-winning Covid-19 Monologues which can be found online.

Panel – Saying No: Self Empowerment and Self Care amongst Freelancers in the Pandemic, Friday 25th March, 2pm

Phoebe Rhodes

Phoebe Rhodes is a theatre director and actor trainer from Devon. She trained as an actor at London College of Music, graduating with a First-Class Degree, and with the Young Vic and Almeida Theatre as a director. She’s also a Soho Theatre Writer’s Lab alumni. As an artist, Phoebe’s worked across the UK in venues such as Liverpool Everyman, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Southwark Playhouse, Pleasance Theatre, Theatre 503 and The Bunker Theatre. As an actor trainer, Phoebe’s worked at three drama schools and universities over the last two years including London College of Music, Fourth Monkey and Plymouth Marjon University.

Isabel Dixon

 Isabel Dixon is a playwright and dramaturg from the South West, now based in London. She is particularly passionate about work with strong female characters, experimental form and structure, and a healthy dose of pop culture references.She was part of the Royal Court and Lyric Hammersmith Young Writers Programmes, and Soho Theatre Writers Lab. Her work has been performed, read and/or developed at theatres including the Old Vic, the Arcola, RichMix and BAFTA. Isabel was the recipient of 2019 Adopt a Playwright Award, during which she developed her latest play Kaleidoscopes, and is currently completing a writer on attachment placement at the RSC.

Harry Harrington

Harry Harrington is an actor from London. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2018 but has worked professionally for 10 years. He now sits on the audition panel at Guildhall. Harry has a broad range of credits in stage and screen and is currently performing at the National Theatre in Small Island. Harry is also very interested in all things technology and has been working on a new platform for actors that looks to address the many issues that actors face in the industry.

Panel – ‘We have more power than we think’: Creative Industry Lobbying Power and the Government, Friday 25th March, 2pm

Laura Mackenzie-Stuart

Laura is Head of Theatre at Creative Scotland, the national body for funding the arts, screen and creative industries. Laura leads a team of specialists supporting the overall ecology of the theatre sector.  As well as advising individuals and organisations on accessing public funding via Creative Scotland and other sources the Theatre team use their national overview to identify gaps in provision and give shape to solutions.  Our role is pivotal in championing the needs of the creative sector ensuring an awareness amongst policy makers at a local and national governmental level of the contribution by theatre to the overall health and well being of wider society. Laura was also instrumental in the inception of the Association of Independent Venue Producers bringing together industry competitors to form a cohesive advocacy and campaigning organisation. Laura was elected Chair in 2006 and remained in post until her appointment to Creative Scotland in 2011.

Steffan Donnelly

Mae Steffan Donnelly yn gyfarwyddwr, actor, awdur, a Chyfarwyddwr Artistig Cwmni Theatr Invertigo ( Steffan fydd Cyfarwyddwr Artistig nesaf Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru ( Mae ei waith diweddar fel cyfarwyddwr yn cynnwys Gwlad yr Asyn (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru) a ffilmiau byrion Monologau’r Maes (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru). Mae ei waith diweddar fel actor yn cynnwys Curtain Up (Theatr Clwyd) a Metamorphoses (Shakespeare’s Globe). Mae ei ddramâu, My Body Welsh My People, wedi eu cyhoeddi gan Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. Mae’n aelod o fwrdd National Theatre Wales, Arts Connection / Cyswllt Celf, ac mae’n aelod o Gyngor Creadigol Shakespeare’s Globe. Mae wedi bod yn aelod cyd-sylfaenol o Lawryddion Celfyddydol Cymru (yn gynt fel Tasglu Llawrydd Cymru) ers ei sefydlu yn ystod pandemig Covid-19.

Steffan Donnelly is a director, actor, writer, and Artistic Director of Invertigo Theatre Company ( He has just been announced as the next Artistic Director of the Welsh-language National Theatre, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru ( His recent directing work includes Gwlad yr Asyn (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru) and short films Monologau’r Maes (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru). His recent acting work includes Curtain Up (Theatr Clwyd) and Metamorphoses (Shakespeare’s Globe). His plays, My Body Welsh and My People, are published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is a board member of National Theatre Wales, Arts Connection / Cyswllt Celf, and is a member of Shakespeare’s Globe’s Creative Council. He has been a co-founding member of Cultural Freelancers Wales (previously Wales Freelance Taskforce) since it was started during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fionnuala Kennedy

Fionnuala is a writer and theatre director from Belfast. She was one of the first directors on Headlong’s Origins Programme (2019) and was a Reveal artist with Prime Cut Productions. Most recently, she has written Thaw for Replay Theatre Company’s PMLD audiences (The MAC Belfast, Oct 2021). She is one of ten writers on the National Theatre’s Connections Programme 21/22 with a play called Hunt and is currently under commission for NI Opera writing a libretto for young people on housing rights. Fionnuala is one of the writers of BBC Drama Room 21/22.

Trevor MacFarlane

Director of Culture Commons and leading on policy for the Centre for Cultural Value’s research into the impacts of Covid-19 on the cultural sector for the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre

Roundtable – Barriers to Change and the New Normal, Friday 25th March, 4pm

Kenya Sterling

Kenya Sterling (He/They) is a proudly queer and working class creative hailing from Manchester and currently based in London. His multidisciplinary work spans various forms of performance, writing, and visual art, as well as being a published poet, podcaster, and creative queer consultant. Kenya has trained with the Royal Exchange young company in Manchester as well as ALT actors. Recent credits include a featured lead in BFI short Joseph Wilson’s Isn’t it a Beautiful world, the upcoming short They Suck (Lison Mombellet) and the lead in TUC’s Trans Awareness film. As well as an upcoming project with musician Yungblud. Other select credits include roles in I AM (Ovalhouse), Rhubarb (Graeae, The Bush Theatre), Burn Baby Burn (Fuel Theatre), Doctors (BBC), and Holby City (BBC).

Byron Mondahl

Byron has worked as a professional actor since 1997. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Art from Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa. He moved to the UK to study at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2006. Byron was cast in Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s 2007 season under the direction of Andrew Hilton. Shakespeare became the main thrust of his work leading to work at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2016 -2018, in the UK, New York and Washington DC. He was on the West End when theatres were closed.

Laura Trevail

I work as a contextual artist weaving actions in connected technology, innovation and transport, with traditional theatre, writing, and visual art practice. I aim to make glancing work with long-term resonance; like the memory of a kind word, or the lasting shiveriness of a ghost story. Sometimes it’s head stuff, sometimes heart, sometimes both. Always gut.

Clarissa Widya

Clarissa Widya (she/her) is a producer, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Papergang Theatre. Since 2013, Papergang Theatre’s mission is to improve the representation of British East / South East Asian (BESEA) culture across the dramatic arts primarily in UK theatre.  Papergang Theatre is focussed on socio-political projects: Tiananmen 30 (2019) at the Omnibus Theatre; Invisible Harmony 无形的和谐 at the Southbank Centre and Freedom Hi 自由閪 followed in 2020, the latter winning VAULT Show of the Week. Clarissa’s current projects include: Dreamers (June 22, Omnibus Theatre); Watermelon by Enxi Chang (WIP), Asian Pirate Musical (Sharing Oct 22, Soho Theatre) and Amaterasu.

Panel – What Does Diversity in the Industry Really Mean?: Access and Inclusion and Thinking beyond Tokenism, Saturday 26th March, 1pm

Kaite O’Reilly

Kaite O’Reilly is a multiple award winning playwright, poet and dramaturg. Awards include the Peggy Ramsay Award and Ted Hughes Award for Poetry for her version of ‘Persians’ for National Theatre Wales. She was honoured in the Elliott Hayes International Award for Outstanding Dramaturgy and shortlisted twice for the James Tait Black Prize for innovative drama. She is currently dramaturg for Rambert’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ dance piece ‘The Redemption of Thomas Shelby’. Her first feature film ‘The Almond and the Seahorse’ with Rebel Wilson and Charlotte Gainsbourg will premiere in 2022.

Lucy Sheen

Lucy was born in Hong Kong, abandoned and then exported to the UK as a transracial adoptee in the late fifties/early sixties. Lucy graduated from Rose Bruford in ’84 with a BA (Hons.) in Theatre Arts. She has worked across stage, radio, TV and film. Lucy is a published poet, playwright, flash fiction, short story and non-fiction writer; on the subject of transracial adoption, race and identity. In 2008 Lucy produced, wrote, self funded and directed her debut short narrative documentary. Abandoned Adopted Here. Lucy is actively seeking funding for her first narrative short, Char Siu Bao. A dramatic short based on real life accounts of life in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation. Lucy is also working on her first feature film Ghost Walker a road movie like you have never encountered before; as well as working with two independent production houses, Paradox House and WolfPack Production developing a limited TV series and a black comedy series. Both centre British East and South East Asian characters at the heart of the narratives. Lucy is an activist and advocate for BESEA creatives working in theatre TV and film. She is a founding member of and a life long advocate for the rights of transracial adoptees.

Peyvand Sadeghian

Peyvand Sadeghian is a Performer and Performance maker who makes work for the curious and socially engaged. Their work takes an interdisciplinary approach and combines performance, puppetry and text. Springing from her own experience as a woman of mixed immigrant heritage, and growing up in one of the poorest parts of the UK, common themes include resistance, displacement, and memory.

Richard Foxton

Richard is a set designer with over 30 years of experience. He also works as a costume designer, project manager and scenic artist.

Panel – Can I have a life and a career?: Parenting, Caring, and the Theatre Industry, Saturday 26th March, 1pm

Matthew Wade

Matthew has been acting professionally for 16 years having graduated from Arts Ed in 2006, with a particular focus in classical theatre, new writing and interactive performance. He has performed both around the UK and overseas, and particularly with non-British companies, and more recently has worked on a lot of roleplay and voice over projects for people ranging from the United Nations to the EU parliament. He also has produced and hosted a sports podcast for the past 6 years. Matthew became a father during lockdown and is discovering how to best juggle being a freelance performer with being a parent.

Julie Tsang

Julie Tsang (she/her) is an award-winning writer currently on residencies with the National Theatre of Scotland, Open Clasp Theatre, Edinburgh International Film Festival and CBBC. Her plays have been performed at Oxford Playhouse, Theatre 503, Soho theatre, Tron theatre, Lyceum theatre and the Pleasance theatre. Her particular interests are stories which explore mixed heritage, identity, loss and family conflict.  

Cat Robey

Cat was Deputy Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre in London’s West End from 2019-21. Directing includes: Measured (The Hope); 15 Heroines (Jermyn Street) 2021 OnComm Series Award winner; Estimated Waiting Time (Love Parks Wandsworth), On Arriving (Jermyn Street & VAULT), 2021 OffComm Award winner; We The Young Strong (Bloomsbury); The Shy Manifesto (Live Newcastle & national tour); After Party (Pleasance). Cat has worked as associate director at Shakespeare’s Globe, Young Vic, HOME & in New York. She is a graduate of the Birkbeck MFA in Theatre Directing.

Panel – Finding a Common Language: Bridging the gap between Freelancers and Cultural Institutions and Barriers to Change, Saturday 26th March, 3.15pm

Graham Main

Graham Main is the CEO of Big Burns Supper and General Manager of Summerhall. He has worked with a diverse range of organisations in a variety of cultural producing roles; including Dublin Fringe, Dublin Opera, St Patricks Day, British Council, Communidad Madrid, Dublin City Council and Dundee Rep. He was instrumental in the setting up of Dumfries & Galloway Unlimited which is the UK’s first artist led arts governance structure which became known as the Chamber of Arts.

Katherina Radeva

Katherina Radeva was born in the Thracian Valley, Bulgaria. Kat is an award winning set and costume designer, theatre maker and visual artist. Her work is made in relation to politics, space, ecology, and those before her, next to her, after her. She is Artistic Director of Two Destination Language, an award winning theatre company making bold, politically unafraid work for stages and with communities around the UK and internationally. She fosters dogs and makes cracking rhubarb and ginger jam. Recent design credits include: salt by Selina Thompson at Royal Court, BBC and international tour, Prime Time at Barbican Theatre, Stick By Me by Redbridge Arts – international tour, Whirlygig by Catherine Wheels, This Kind Body– award winning film by Fat Blokes, Class by Scottee -international tour @KatherinaRadeva

Tomek Borkowy

Graduated with Master of Arts in Poland, Tomek ran repertoire theatre in Krakow. In 1982 he relocating to London directing, teaching in drama school and studying TV Production at South Thames College. From 1990 Borkowy worked in Edinburgh  Fringe programming and coproducing hundreds of shows from around the world. In 1992 Tomek established Universal Arts as a international producers, consultants and agents. He worked with governmental organisations in Poland, France, Ireland, Quebec, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Spain. In 2012 he organised in Edinburgh Polish Cultural Olympiad recognised by International Olympic Committee. His work won him a number of awards including Herald ‘Archangel’ given for the highest achievement in all Edinburgh festivals. Borkowy was a Visiting Professor of the Graduate Institute of Performing Arts in Taipei and Advisor to the Department of Performing Arts at Shu-Te University in Kaohsiung, Invited by the China Association of Performing Arts he lectured on “Performing Arts as a Tool for Diplomacy” in Beijing, Enshi and Guanghzou.

Panel – Freelancers in the Light: Activism and Advocacy in the time of COVID-19, Saturday 26th March, 3.15pm

Rachel Pedley

Rachel is a professional actress, dancer, Hip Hop Theatre maker, choreographer and teacher. Rachel trained as a performer at Swindon Dance and then London Studio Centre, she was part of the Pineapple Performing Arts Troupe and has worked in TV, Film, the West End and regional theatre professionally since 2006. Rachel founded Avant in September 2015, having moved back home to the Rhondda, with the aim of providing further opportunities for professional artists to collaborate, create and teach in the Valleys, and showcase the work from the valleys across Wales, the UK and on international stages. 

Tigger Blaize

Tigger is originally from Guernsey, trained at Rose Bruford, and is now working as an actor in theatre, TV, film and audio. As portfolio careers go, Tigger’s is fairly eclectic, working as an Intimacy Coordinator, delivering workshops in mask theatre and trans awareness; working as an LGBT+ consultant to Arts organisations, ski instructing a bit in the winter, and running a fortnightly pavement cake shop – “CAKE on the hEdge”. Tigger is Vice Chair of Equity’s LGBT+ Committee and also represents them on the national TUC LGBT+ Committee.

Emily Tucker

On screen she is known for Channel 4’s comedy series Not Safe for Work, Film 4’s drama Rebecca and Sterling Picture’s horror film The Convent. Her lockdown film Embraceable You won ‘Best Isolation Short’ at LAMP festival. She most recently filmed rom-com Stuck (Nine Yard Films), and is currently developing her own film. Her roles in the theatre have ranged from Shakespeare’s heroines (Beatrice, Rosalind, Viola, Cordelia, Katherine) to Tennesse Williams’ leading ladies and Noel Coward’s comediennes. She most recently trod the boards in Blithe Spirit (Duke of York, Richard Eyre), and is delighted theatre is back! Training: Drama Centre London. 

Leo Wan

Leo Wan is an actor working predominantly in theatre. Recent credits include The Mirror and The Light (RSC/West End), Miss Julie (New Earth Theatre/Storyhouse Theatre Chester), As You Like It & The Taming of the Shrew (RSC) and The Great Wave (National Theatre). Leo has been involved in a number of advocacy and activist initiatives, including Freelance Task Force, Public Campaign for the Arts and Freelancers Make Theatre Work. He is a founder of Rising Waves, a mentorship scheme for early career BESEA artists. He serves as a trustee for Inc Arts UK and Northern Broadsides, alongside serving on the Artistic Advisory Committee of Brixton House and on the Race Equality Committee of Equity.

Roundtable – Better practices and how to fight for a radical future, Saturday 26th March, 4.30pm

Faynia Williams

Multi-ward winning international director. BBC Producer Drama, Documentaries. Director/Designer Millennium Prom Opera Royal Albert Hall. Artistic Director 4 Theatres. Fellow in Theatre UK & US Universities. Taught British Theatre and British Film, University of Sussex. Holds record Fringe First Awards. Nominated Best Director/Designer London Critics Awards. Gilder Coigney Global Theatre Award Finalist 2021 Those worked with include Tadeusz Kantor, Josef Beuys, Pina Bausch, Alan Rickman, Mick Jagger, John Hurt, Harold Pinter, Orlando Bloom, Tim Robbins, Tom Courtenay, Brian Cox. Freeman City of London, Former Chair Directors’ Guild GB, and Equity Directors Committee. President ITI DTC.

Kaya La Bonte-Hurst

Kaya is a musician, project manager and freelance events/production manager. Starting her arts career as an apprentice at the Southbank Centre in 2016, Kaya has been lucky to work in the UK and Europe, learning from touring companies, producers, production managers and artists from all over the world. Her passions lie in music and making spaces for conversation and creation. After spending most of her working life on both sides of the stage, Kaya started working with Jerwood Arts as a project manager in Winter 2020. Kaya’s work currently focuses on supporting artists to sustain and develop their creative practices, and how to create more transparent and less labour-intensive funding opportunities.

Rebecca Morden

After graduating Sheffield University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Rebecca worked as an actor, director, writer and producer and created award-winning feminist production hub Scary Little Girls. In 2021 she wrote for the BBC’s Archive on Four, Radio 4’s The UK Project and her first book was published, Out of the Darkness: Greenham Voices. Rebecca is a regular ‘rent-a-feminist’ talking head for TV and Radio, including You and Yours, 5 Live, Women’s Hour, and Sky News. This year she and SLG are celebrating the company’s 20th birthday by co-producing with Hall for Cornwall a festival of women’s work for both established and emerging artists called the Mayven Festival, to be held in Cornwall in July and December.       

Mick Gordon

Mick Gordon is a director and writer. He was born, and lives, in Northern Ireland. Formerly he was Artistic Director Aarhus Theatre Denmark, Associate Director National Theatre London, Artistic Director On Theatre London and Artistic Director Gate Theatre London. He has produced and directed over 100 theatre productions worldwide and has won many awards. His writing includes 8 plays and a collection of essays, published by Bloomsbury Oberon. 

%d bloggers like this: