who we are

Welcome to the acta staff team

Oliver Jones | Director

Oliver Jones

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Bertel Martin | Finance and Operations Manager

Bertel Martin

Bertel joined the Company in March 2022. He began his arts career as a writer and workshop tutor before moving into freelance arts project management and co-ordinating Bristol Black Writers Group. After this, he worked as an arts administrator for Bristol Old Vic, then as arts manager at Kuumba Centre before deciding to set up City Chameleon as a publisher and producer of poetry and spoken word events and theatre. Bertel has also worked as the Director of the Plymouth International Book Festival.

At acta, Bertel is responsible for the financial management of the company and acta’s premises. Bertel has always been involved in making arts accessible to audiences and creating opportunities for people to participate and engage with arts for pleasure, personal development and as a career.

Contact: [email protected]

Ingrid Jones | Associate Director

Ingrid Jones

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Rosa Martyn | Communications Coordinator

Rosa is a white woman with brown hair and a blunt cut fringe. She is wearing a stripey dress and is looking directly into the camera and smiling softly

After a few years of working in various roles in the visual art sector across Bristol, Rosa joined the acta team in January 2022. Rosa’s main role is communications – working on acta’s social media, website, and newsletter (and more!) but will also be on hand at shows to welcome you.

Rosa is really passionate about giving everyone the chance to create, and is always honoured to hear people share their stories. In her spare time, Rosa is part of a group helping people form bands.

Contact: [email protected]

Rosalie Pordes | Projects Director

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Sara Snook | Creative Producer

Sara Snook

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.

Contact: [email protected].

Neil Beddow | Founder

Neil Beddow

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).

Neil stepped down as Artistic Director of acta in March 2021. You can read his blog here.

acta Associate Team

Hiba Elhindi

Hiba Elhindi

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Jody Cook

Jody Cook

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Tracey Harvey

Tracey Harvey

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Mohamed Jama

Mohamed Jama

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.

Contact: [email protected]

Aqeel Abdulla

Aqeel Abdulla

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 Khutan

Maya Khutan

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

Jeanette Bain Burnett | Chair

Jeanette loves harnessing creativity to bring social change. She’s currently Executive Director, Policy and Integrity for Sport England, part of the team leading the organisation’s vision to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity. Jeanette enjoys working in the intersection of wellbeing, culture and social change.

Previous roles include Director of Participation at the Trussell Trust, Assistant Director for Communities and Social Policy at the Mayor of London and Director of the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD). Jeanette has been a part of the boards of People Dancing, Jackson’s Lane and arts depot in North London, where she served as vice chair.

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. 

Ruth Cochrane

Ruth became involved in acta both as a community worker based in the centre of the city and as a parent. She has links with diverse community groups across Bristol, in particular the Somali community in and around Hannah More Primary School, where she retains a part-time role as a community consultant.

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.

Alex Lamont Bishop

Alex 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

Stef Brammar

Stef Brammar

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 also a Director of the Bedminster Business Improvement District.

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 and media industry internationally as well as the UK community sector.

Dr Kerrie Schaefer

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 Dettering


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.

Shirin Mawji

Shirin is a Bristol based pharmacist keen on all things healthcare, theatre and community. As a child of Ugandan Asian refugee parents, she understands the importance of equal opportunities for all in helping individuals and groups feel empowered, integrate into the societies in which they live, and excel.

Shirin is passionate about theatre, and believes her engagement with it has had profound effects on her confidence, public speaking, critical thinking, sense of self, and empathy for others; and more. Aside from her interest in theatre, Shirin’s knowledge of healthcare and experience working in the community makes her a great addition to our board.

Nerys Jones

Nerys is Commercial Operations Director at Clifton College.   She has degrees in History and Broadcast Journalism from the University of Sheffield and a background in PR and Public Affairs, working for clients including Singapore Airlines and Tourist Board, technology giant 3M, and later on as a marketing manager, for Welsh building society, Principality.  She’s spent the ten years up until 2022 at the National Trust, where, over that time, she has managed two portfolios in North Wales before moving to the South West and taking on Tyntesfield, Leigh Woods and Clevedon Court.  She has developed a strong passion for modern relevance, participation and theatricality in culture and heritage amongst diverse audiences and has worked with artists and film companies to bring history and nature to life for audiences of thousands.