who we are

core team

Neil Beddow, Artistic Director



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 Tomlin, Executive Director


Helen Tomlin

Helen joined the Company as Administrator in 1993, with a firm belief in the power of participatory arts to transform lives. She works in the acta office, which was in Lockleaze at first, and later in Hengrove and Brislington, before the move to actacentre in 2002.

Helen 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 Jones, Associate Director



Ingrid started working for acta in 1994, after graduating from Exeter University with a drama and education degree.

Ingrid originally worked for the company as a freelancer, whilst also working as a youth worker and teacher. She has directed numerous community plays over the years, but the majority of her time has been spent developing and directing acta youth theatres. She has a passion for devising theatre with young people, creating new and relevant performances.

Katie Delaney, Production Manager



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.

Kathryn Hopkins, Communications Coordinator


Kathryn HarrisKathryn completed her acta foundation year in October 2013, and is now a fully fledged member of the team. She is the person who is responsible for getting more people taking part in acta projects and coming to see our shows. Follow acta on twitter and facebook to talk to her. Kathryn also designs and creates the posters for the shows!

She graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire after spending five years there studying the bassoon. Born and brought up in Wales, Kathryn has always been involved in community arts, and is particularly interested in creative community regeneration. She is very excited about learning what community theatre has to offer developing communities.

The last time Kathryn tried her hand at acting herself was for a film called “Hunky Dory” where she appeared as a girl in the school orchestra.

Rosalie Pordes, Projects Director


Rosalie also 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.

Since leaving University she has been back in London and continued to involve herself in the community theatre world, volunteering with companies such as Cardboard Citizens, Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre and Hyperfusion Theatre Company. Rosalie is now extremely excited to be back in the West Country pursuing her dream career.

aqeel abdulla, drama worker


I am from Syria, and came to the UK in 2009 on a scholarship to do a masters and PhD in theatre. I did both my master and PhD at the University of Exeter. My master dissertation was on representations of Arabs in contemporary British theatre, and my PhD thesis was on representations of Muslim women in contemporary British theatre. My research interest is in the concept of representation and self-representation, and my conviction that theatre needs to be socially engaged lead me to acta, a perfect example of how theatre can empower people to represent themselves and tell their stories. I am very excited about the learning experience that is working here, and I’m hopeful that I will be able to utilise the skills and knowledge I learn here in Syria when I go back home.

Maya shahida khatun, drama worker


Maya was born in London and moved to Bristol in 2013. She was introduced to acta through her child’s school, Hannah More Primary. Since then she has participated in three acta shows: ‘Fatima & Sumaya’, ‘It’s my life’ and ‘Dream On’. Maya attended several drama classes at Hannah More and was able to find her confidence again. Attending the classes gave her the opportunity to meet other parents at the school and make new friends. It also helped her to get a job as a Play-worker in the school. Maya developed an interest in working for acta., and she is currently completing her foundation year as a half-time drama worker.

sara snook, director’s assistant


Sara is thrilled to join acta as the Director’s Assistant for a foundation year, starting in September 2017.
Sara is a facilitator and theatre maker based in Bristol. After graduating from University of Sussex with a Drama and Spanish degree, Sara worked at Battersea Arts Centre on the Family Theatre and Heritage team, supporting projects for under 12s and over 65s. In 2016 she moved to Bristol to set herself up as a freelance drama facilitator. Before coming to ACTA Sara worked with Tobacco Factory, Travelling Light and Theatre Royal Bath and continues to lead Easton Youth Theatre with Tamsin Buckley-Bell.


Russ davidson, building assistant


*Biog coming soon*






Pet Jordan, Cleaner

*Biog coming soon*


Council of Management

Stef Brammar, Chair

Stef first came to Bristol in the late 80’s to run Watershed Media Centre, where she was responsible for establishing its education department and re-opening its photography gallery. Prior to that, she was Director of the Cornwall Arts Centre Trust, where she devised and managed a countywide programme of theatre, music and dance, ranging from RSC tours to home-grown community plays and music education. Stef’s career also included time at UWE, running a multimedia company and at the BBC. She is now retired and devotes her time to being a doting grandmother and Secretary of WOW, the West Street (Bedminster, Bristol) neighbourhood group. She is an enthusiastic supporter of acta‘s work and a member of their ‘Get Together’ community choir.

Stephen Fenton, vice-chair

stephen-editStephen graduated with a Graphic Design degree from UWE, after which he stayed in Bristol, married and became the very proud father of three. He runs a Bristol-based design agency that specializes in creative communication for prestigious home and lifestyle clients. His professional career spans more than 20 years advising both private and public sector organisations on marketing and brand management. He has been involved in acta since 2004, when he first joined the Council of Management, and served as acta’s Chair, 2006 – 2011. He is actively involved in the Scout movement and currently chairs the Friends (PTA) of QEH school so has a great interest in youth activities in and around the City.


Tom Wood, Treasurer

Tom is a Qualified Chartered Accountant (ACA), working for PwC in Bristol. He grew up in Bath before attending Cardiff University.

It was upon finishing University that he decided to move to Bristol. Since then he has enjoyed kicking a ball about in the driving wind & rain at Bristol’s Clifton Down’s, as a member of Bristol’s oldest amateur Football Club, and regularly delighting in various many acta productions.


Gill simmons

gill-editGill is Artistic Director of Brave, Bold Drama, a former drama teacher who has 13 years experience of working in schools. She devises and delivers education and community workshops, writes, directs and performs too.

Gill lives locally in South Bristol, and has helped bring the Southbank Arts Trail to actacentre in recent years.


Rosie Tomlinson

Rosie was born in Bristol but moved as a teenager to Edinburgh where in the distant past she graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. Returning to Bristol she trained as an art teacher specialising in ceramics and taught for three years. But her path was diverted into youth work with adventures on the wooden schooner Pascual Flores, work experience training then 25 years working for Barnardo’s with children and families. Now almost retired Rosie still does occasional work as a tutor for Learning Communities teaching photography and IT and more recently has developed a new course at Underfall Yard. Transitioning into retirement has allowed Rosie to return to her love of photography, local history and community development and there seems to be no end of opportunities to pursue these with local projects such as the Bedminster Tobacco Women, Southville Panto, Let’s Walk Bedminster and now more recently with acta. Rosie is proud to have been involved in saving the local bowling green in Greville Smyth Park and introducing the game to a wider range of people including children. One day she hopes her two daughters might decide they’d like a go.

Ruth Cochrane

ruth-editRuth works as the Community Development Coordinator at Hannah More Primary School.

She first came across acta when her daughter participated in one of our youth theatres.

Ruth works tirelessly to support parents from the school to make their own original theatre with acta, and to engage new audiences for acta shows.

Dr Kerrie Schaefer

Kerrie works as a Senior Lecturer in Drama on the Applied Theatre course at the University of Exeter.

Kerrie has studied, taught and writen about acta’s work in recent years, and worked in partnership with acta to deliver our seminar series and international festivals.

Freelance facilitators

acta employs up to 20 people each year, many of whom are freelancer facilitators working on specific projects. Some of the facilitators who have worked with us on a regular basis most recently include:

JODY COOK, drama



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 is now facilitating two groups in her local area and one in Redcliffe.


Tracey Harvey, drama



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 also joins acta Foundation as a Drama Worker.


Kat Bray, Drama


Kat was born in Bristol and grew up in Bedminster. She first joined acta in 1999, when she was 15 years old, as a member of our young carers’ youth theatre, and has performed in numerous acta shows.

Kat became an apprentice drama assistant and gained experience in delivering sessions and performing shows with young people. She was one of the first acta foundation drama workers, but is also still involved with performing.

Geenie Hills, Drama & Visuals


Geenie was born and brought up in Avonmouth, Bristol. She first joined acta in 2001 as part of “Shooting Stars” youth theatre at Portway Community School, and later took part in acta youth theatres and community shows in Lawrence Weston.

Geenie worked as an apprentice for the Company, developing her skills as a drama worker, photographer and make-up artist, as well as performing in numerous acta shows. She studied media make-up at Somerset College of Arts and Technology, before completing an acta foundation year.

Deborah Miles, Drama

Deb is one of acta’s most experienced freelance facilitators, delivering a range of youth theatre groups at the actacentre, including our programme for young carers. She also works as a drama teacher at Cotham Schoool.

Samantha Pine, Set & costume design

Sam has been working in theatre and television for over ten years, after training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She has worked for many companies including The Water Mill Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Proteus Theatre Company, The Cheltenham Everyman, The Common Players and Show of Strength as well as designing a wide range of acta shows; working with all sorts of fantastic young and older performers from Bristol and beyond. Sam is never happier than when lost in the world of the acta costume store, marvelling over an original 1960 gem of a costume!

Sarah Scott, Community choir

Sarah lives in Bristol and is a professional musician and drama tutor for young adults with learning difficulties.  She has worked with acta on various youth projects and has been leading the acta community choir since it began in 2012.

Philippa Smith, Drama

Philippa has been a theatre director and performer since 2000, and has worked with acta and the Malcolm X Elders Theatre Company for the past 5 years. She has worked in the arts internationally, in countries such as Malaysia and Ghana. Philippa is passionate about the arts and loves working with acta.

Flora Toulson-Clarke

*Biog coming soon*

Eve Houston

*Biog coming soon*