Welcome to the acta staff team
Oliver joined acta in January 2021 having spent 7 years as Director of Creativity Works. He has previously worked for organisations such as Cambridge Junction, Trestle, and The Theatre Royal Plymouth, specialising in creative learning, youth theatre and community theatre.
He has been an associate director of the National Youth Theatre for over 20 years, most recently leading their work in Saudi Arabia. He has worked extensively as an actor and a director nationally and internationally, and has also taught at a number of Universities and drama schools, including East 15 where he designed and delivered a course on political theatre.
Oliver is also a fellow of The School of Social Entrepreneurs.
Neil was born and brought up in the Black Country, studied at University of Exeter and Goldsmiths College, and co-founded acta in 1985. He specialises in devising, writing and directing original community theatre with the diverse communities of Bristol. His work has ranged from large-scale plays with casts of hundreds, to small-scale community touring shows; working with all ages and across generations. Neil has responsibility for forward planning, fundraising and overseeing artistic content of acta’s programme. He represents acta at national and international levels, and has a particular interest in community theatre in a global context. His published works include Turning Points, the impact of participation in community theatre (2001).
Helen joined the Company as Administrator in 1993, with a firm belief in the power of participatory arts to transform lives. She worked from the Lockleaze office at first, and later in Hengrove and Brislington, developing a new role as the Programme Manager. Following the move to actacentre in 2002, Helen became part of the Senior Management Team, working as Executive Director.
Helen is responsible for the financial management of the Company, and has a keen interest in evaluation and learning. She believes that everyone should have an opportunity to be creative, and has a commitment to community theatre to enable the sharing of stories that may otherwise remain unheard.
Ingrid originally worked for the company as a freelancer in 1993, whilst also working as a youth worker and teacher. She has directed numerous community plays over the years, along with developing and directing acta youth theatres.
Over the past ten years, Ingrid’s work has been more focused on adult groups in particular working with migrant women.
She has been involved in various European projects and key to our training programmes; enabling her to share her experience, knowledge and enthusiasm for making community theatre.
Katie leads on all the technical aspects of acta theatre productions, and particularly enjoys designing the lighting for so many shows. She also manages acta events and festivals and leads visual arts sessions in schools and the wider community. Katie trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and then worked as a Production Manager in theatres including The Crucible, Sheffield and touring in the U.K and Europe with companies such as Theatre Alibi, New Perspectives and Common Players. She believes passionately in taking theatre to unexpected places and to new audiences. She has worked on shows in parks, village halls, schools, prisons and on the street, large-scale public events, carnival and education projects, so instantly felt at home with acta when she joined in 2002.
Clare joined acta in Jan 2020 after working in marketing & events roles, since graduating with a Business Management degree from LJMU in 2015. Clare is responsible for the management of digital marketing such as the website, social media and newsletters, as well as creative strategy and front of house for performances.
As a keen actress throughout school years at the Bristol Old Vic, ITV Studios and Keynsham Youth Theatre, Clare has a real passion for the arts and how they can support a person’s confidence and wellbeing. Nowadays, you’ll find Clare at a dance class or relaxing with some yoga. She is a huge believer in the power of community, and is thrilled to be part of a team that puts people first and makes a real difference.
Rosalie joined the Company on a Foundation post, in September 2013, at the end of which she became a permanent core team member. Born in London, Rosalie studied Drama at the University of Exeter where she discovered a passion for community theatre. Outside of her degree she volunteered with the theatre company Magic Carpet and supported a PHD student in her project Vital Spaces.
Rosalie has led many projects at acta and currently directs the international Rapport company alongside co-Director and acta associate Hiba.
Sara joined acta in 2017 with dreams of changing the world, one inclusive arts activity at a time. Now, in her role as Creative Producer, Sara is able to put those dreams into reality; developing collaborative projects that celebrate the lives and stories of individuals from all walks of life.
After graduating from University of Sussex (BA Hons Drama & Spanish), Sara worked at Battersea Arts Centre on the Family Theatre and Heritage Team. Moving to Bristol in 2016, Sara started a freelance career leading various Youth Theatre workshops at theatres in the area, as well as building their very own “Easton Youth Theatre” with the legendary Tamsin Buckley-Bell.
Having grown up on a council estate in south London to Iranian refugee parents, Maryam knows firsthand the barriers faced by parts of our community to engage in the arts.
Maryam studied English at Queen Mary and has an MSc in Psychology from the University of East London. After working in children’s and academic publishing, she began a regular live music night in south London, working with local schools and community organisations. During this time she began to re-immerse herself in her love of theatre. She is thrilled to join acta with its commitment to the right of every person to creative self-expression and the important art this brings with it.
acta Associate Team
Born in Sudan, Hiba moved to the UK in 2014. Since childhood, she has always been passionate about drama, arts and creative writing. She used to take part in primary schools theatre shows and create sketches in French language and perform them later at university.
Hiba has been involved with acta since 2017 as a participant, audience member, trustee on the board and very recently as a foundation drama worker. She first joined acta as a participant in Redcliffe Stories that ended up with the show Dream On, as well as stepping in to join the ladies from refugee women of Bristol in their show The Woman Next Door, and performing and directing plenty of other shows too.
Jody has lived in North Bristol all her life, in Lockleaze. Drama has always played a big part in her life. From a young age she would perform for her family and make up plays, and this carried on throughout school life.
Drama is her big passion, and she is very lucky that she passes this down to the children of Lockleaze at her local school. Jody joined the acta team back in September 2016 when she became the new recruit for the foundation drama work post. She now facilitates three projects with children and adults in Lockleaze.
Tracey is originally from Birmingham and has been living in Bristol since 2001.
First introduced to acta in 2011, Tracey has participated in a huge number of different groups and has performed in many shows including Goblin Silver, Gas Girls and Sisters.
Tracey was thrilled to become part of the acta core team in September 2015, when she became the new Theatre Bar Assistant. In September 2016, Tracey joined the acta Foundation scheme as a Drama Worker, and is now one of our wonderful acta associates.
Mohamed first started working with young people as a Learning Support Assistant mentor when he finished an MA Intercultural Communications at the University of the West of England in 2013. Born and raised in Djibouti, he came to England in 2002 and has been living in Bristol since. He is proud to call Bristol his home, and is a parent governor at Victoria Park Primary School in Bedminster.
Mohamed first started working at acta as a Foundation Drama worker, where he was excited to learn more about the theatrical world, working with the adults groups from Ashley Community Housing and Borderland as well as one young people group from Bedminster.
Aqeel is a lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter, and an acta associate.
After finishing his PhD in Drama in 2016, he developed an interest in community theatre, especially with refugee and migrant communities in the UK. This led to a foundation year with acta between 2017-2018.
After learning about facilitation at acta, mainly under the mentorship of Ingrid Jones, Aqeel went on to establish his own community theatre company in Exeter, Yalla Arts, in 2019.
He continues to collaborate with acta and fellow associates on different projects, both in Bristol and Exeter.
Maya first engaged with acta as a performer through her son’s school, Hannah More in Bristol, where she also works.
After taking part in three shows: Fatima & Sumaya, It’s My Life, and ‘Dream On’, she was invited to join acta’s Foundation scheme, which offered workplace learning to develop her career and skills as a Drama Worker. In this year, she participated in acta’s REACT festival, as well as The Woman Next Door in 2018.
Since graduating from this programme she has joined the acta Associates group, and has also been member of the Board. Projects close to her heart include female empowerment and supporting women, especially single mothers.
Board of Trustees
Kathryn Hopkins | Chair
A former acta employee (2012-2019), Kath began as a Foundation Programme Assistant and developed her role post-Foundation to focus on Marketing and Communications, most recently delivering the Communications Coordinator role.
Kath completed various leadership training courses whilst at acta and recently completed MA in Creative Production (Digital) with UWE / Pervasive Media Studios. She was invited to join the Council of Management as Chair in Summer 2019, and will lead in development of organisational profile for the Company through the succession period.
Stephen Fenton | Vice-Chair
After graduating from UWE, Stephen set up his first design business in Bristol which has gone on to merge with another agency from Bath to form Zeke Creative – now specialising in brand marketing for interior, property and A&D clients.
With a professional career spanning more than 25 years, he has advised both private and public sector organisations. He is also on the board of a luxury bed company and has been actively working with two independent school PTA committees in his spare time over the past 10 years. Since 2003, Stephen has supported acta’s Council of Management, making him the longest serving board member, and is now involved in plans to celebrate acta’s 35 anniversary later in 2020.
Maria Nilsson | Treasurer
After graduating from University of Aberdeen, Maria headed straight into the finance world. Through work, Maria recently moved to Bristol where she is a Chartered Accountant. She has always had a keen interest for theatre, arts and literature.
During her school years in Sweden, Maria used to go to local, national and international theatres, ballets, musicals and operas. She loves exploring how arts enables one story to be expressed in so many different ways. If Maria is not at work or at a theatre venue, she loves skiing. Growing up in Kiruna, she competed in skiing for over 12 years. Maria is excited to be part of a team that makes a real difference in the local Bristol community and looks forward to see what the next years ahead will bring.
Senior Public Health Specialist at Bristol City Council, working in the children and young people’s team, Charly brings a health and educational perspective to the board.
Experienced in public health commissioning, project management, community development, leadership and partnership working, Charly supports the board with recruitment and other people focused actions.
Charly is a local resident and mum with a keen interest in community theatre, in particular, the role it can play in helping to create healthy, cohesive communities and positive societal change.
Ruth became involved in acta both as a community worker based in the centre of the city and as a parent. She has strong links with diverse community groups across Bristol, in particular the Somali community in and around Hannah More Primary School, where she works.
Ruth is interested in widening participation and building links across and between communities – through all sort of activities, including adult learning, sports and creative arts. She has experience in community development, funding and project development. Ruth is also an enthusiastic musician and plays several instruments.
Ruth is currently taking a break from the acta Board and we look forward to her return in the near future!
Alex Lamont Bishop
Alex is Deputy Secretary-General at the International National Trusts Organisation, where he’s responsible for sharing knowledge between the global family of National Trusts, from Canada and Bermuda to Zimbabwe and Thailand. Based in Bristol, Alex has a personal interest in community theatre and believes strongly in the importance of acta in the local area.
Alex has experience in intercultural communication, fundraising, bid-writing and project development. He supports acta on the financial subcommittee by inputting into the organisation’s fundraising strategy, with a particular focus on international partnership bids.
Sub-committee: Money & Finance
Russ is a local Bristol resident and has been involved with acta for many years. His musical interests have led to him getting involved in many aspects of the company.
A talented guitarist, he has played at acta events as well as taking part in the community choir – with whom he has also sung at various acta performances.
His current role on the Board is as the lead for Building and Health & Safety. This comes after 2-3 years working as acta’s Building Assistant, where he oversaw facilities, venue hire, risk assessments and many other aspects of the building management.
Stef is a local Bedminster (Bristol) resident, who is passionate about her community. She is the lead for local community group “Action Greater Bedminster”, which was set up to give a voice to, and improve the quality of life of, all who live and work within the BS3 postcode.
She is former Chair of acta’s Board, and as such has extensive understanding of the company.
Stef is part of the community choir, and regularly attends acta seminars and other events. Throughout her career, she has many years’ experience within the professional arts internationally as well as the UK community sector.
Dr Kerrie Schaefer
Kerrie first visited acta in 2010 to see Hooyo Ma’aan (The Day I Became A Woman) produced by Rotterdams Wijkteater and subsequently engaged with acta overseas, at the International Community Arts Festival, in Rotterdam (in 2011).
Originally from Australia and now an Associate Professor of Drama at Exeter University, Kerrie has knowledge of the participatory/community cultural sector, and brings this experience to acta’s Board, for which she has been a trustee for five years.
Kerrie’s academic research on acta has focussed on acta’s production of the Gas Girls and the Malcolm X Elders Theatre Company’s Ticky Picky Boom Boom, as well as acta’s Cycle of Engagement.
Barbara is one of the Seven Saints of St Pauls and a member of acta’s Malcolm X Elders Company. Born in British Guyana, she has spent her professional life as a social worker, and was heavily involved in setting up St Paul’s Carnival.
After 50 years serving her community in Bristol, she continues to play a large role in the Bristol West Indian Parents & Friends Association.
Barbara has been engaged with acta for a decade, performing in shows that have toured nationally and internationally, with the Elders theatre company. Alongside performing, she has also been a member of the Board for the past two years.