Laura Barnes – Artistic Director and Producer
Laura recently worked for seven years as Education and Outreach Leader for the nationally acclaimed and government funded theatre company Sixth Sense Theatre for Young People. She has directed multiple productions and specialises in physical theatre, gritty drama and improvisation.She has also directed for the Radio One Big Weekend, the National and Local Government Arts Organisations Annual Conference, Ugly Sister Productions and the Edinburgh Fringe. She has ran various workshops in theatre (including running Swindon Youth Theatre for seven years at The Wyvern, for Salisbury Playhouse and The Egg in Bath) and regularly works collaboratively with playwrights, teachers and actors (including Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and acclaimed playwrights including Brian Jordan, David Lane and Mike Akers) to deliver bespoke projects.
Laura is a qualified and experienced Secondary School Drama Teacher and currently works freelance delivering workshops and as a Director and Producer for companies based around the South West.
Laura also leads on Gatecrash Evolve
Anna Friend – Gatecrash Ignite Tutor/Artistic Director (Maternity cover from January 2017)
Anna recently directed Gatecrash Theatre’s HUGELY successful community performance project ‘Wroughton Passion Play’ with a cast of 100 people and perforomed to an audience of 1800 people. Anna has been working as a drama teacher and director for the past 10 years, after completing her PGCE at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Prior to teaching, Anna worked in the media and film industry, making music videos with a whole host of artists from the All Saints to Eric Clapton. Anna is Artistic Director of Quirky Bird Theatre and has recently won several awards for their performance of ‘Tusk, Tusk’ at the National One Act Play Festival. Beyond this Anna is also Resident Director at The Alma Tavern in Bristol. As a teacher she directed everything from Godber to Grease and all that lies between. As a director she has founded and run two previous Youth Theatre companies, including the recently founded Marlborough Young Actors, producing high quality performances with young people and most recently she has bought her experience to adult theatre, working with The Marlborough Players to produce Jim Cartwright’s ‘Two’. She is also an examiner for Edexcel GCSE Drama. For more information on Anna Quirky Bird Theatre company click here
Anna leads our Gatecrash Ignite sessions
Natasha Garbutt – Gatecrash Youth Tutor, Adminstrator (Maternity Cover from January 2017) and Gatecrash Events Co-ordinator
Natasha has been involved with Gatecrash since its formation both logistically and creatively. Natasha was Assistant Director on Gatecrash’s first two ‘Yearn and Learn’ performances ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘The Crucible’ and Assistant Produced ‘Wroughton Passion Play’. Natasha Directed Gatecrash Theatre’s first ‘Smash And Grab’ production ‘Breathing Corpses’ under the mentorship of Artistic Director Laura Barnes. Natasha is heading up our latest venture Gatecrash Events. and is co-leading Gatecrash Youth aiming to use her experiences as a director to nurture those wanting to follow the same path. Prior to working with Gatecrash Natasha studied Drama at Bristol’s UWE where she was heavily involved with producing and directing and Assistant Directed several productions with Swindon Youth Theatre (now part of Prime Theatre). Natasha also works closely with Reach Inclusive Arts and Partner’s Theatre Company – an inclusive arts company in the town.
David Jell – Technical, Stage Management and Lighting Design
David has 17 years’ experience of working in technical theatre roles and has been working with Gatecrash Theatre since we formed. David works in both main house and touring theatre; his current full time role is as Deputy Technical Manager for Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre and Swindon Arts Centre as well as production manager for the annual Summer Youth Project at the Wyvern Theatre. David has an interest in local amateur dramatics and community theatre and has spent the last 8 years working with a range of theatre companies around Swindon, starting with Sixth Sense Theatre Company (now Prime Theatre) on professional touring shows. For Gatecrash Theatre, David leads on technical aspects and provides lighting design for all our shows – particular highlights being stage managing and designing aspects of The Passion and Nativity at Wroughton. He has also been working with Quirky Bird Theatre, providing technical support and lighting design to projects, including Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk and That Face and for the inaugural production of Schoolhouse Productions (Alma Tavern‘s new in-house production company) Two by Jim Cartwright.
John Lomas – Course Leader for Improvisation Training
John runs Gatecrash Theatre’s improvisation courses. John is an actor, improviser and writer from Bristol. He is a founder member and co-director of Closer Each Day, Bristol’s long-running improvised soap opera. For the company he has also created the long-form formats The Life Of… (performed at Bristol Old Vic) and The Sitcom Trial. He is also a member of Impromptu Shakespeare and is developing a two-person storytelling show, The Great American Storybook. He has been teaching improv since 2011 and is a lead instructor with the Bristol Improv Theatre. He is currently teaching advanced classes at the Tobacco Factory and has instructed all over the South West – with students ranging from seasoned performers to corporate clients. In order to expand the opportunities for his students to perform, he recently founded The Unscripted Players (UP!) the UK’s first amateur theatre company dedicated to improvisation. He has trained with iO, Tara de Fransciso, Patti Stiles, Chris Harris, Hoopla and the Nursery. He has written for BBC radio (Mantelpiece Theatre, Newsjack) and most recently for Bath Theatre Royal’s Shakespeare project ‘They Name is Women’.
Ruth is founder of Body Gossip – A campaign that works through Arts and Education to empower every body to be the best version of themselves and rock their own brand of gorgeous. Ruth produces all of the Body Gossip theatre shows and short films, and is responsible for the day to day running of the campaign. She is also the Artistic Director of an arts venue in East London, The Canvas – a cafe and arts space that hosts workshops, live arts events and ongoing debate. The Canvas is our affiliated venue, and will be home to Body Gossip workshops and theatre events. Ruth is an actress and puppeteer whose most notable performances include operating Joey’s Head in ‘War Horse’ in the West End; operating a Beach Byrd in CBeebies’ ‘ZingZillas’ for the BBC; presenting CBeebies Radio also for the BBC. For more information on Ruth and her company click here
Esther Jane Shepperd
Mike has run an improvisation workshop for members of Gatecrash Evolve. Mike has written extensively for young audiences, including work for Forest Forge, Travelling Light and Sixth Sense & is a well-known name in programmes at Bristol Old Vic, (Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Jane Eyre), The Tobacco Factory & The Brewery (The Lost Present, Super Sam & Mega Max Save Christmas). An experienced teacher, Mike was also Education Director with Travelling Light, and taught ‘Writing for Performance’ at Bristol University.
Matthew trained at LAMDA and works as an actor, playwright and director. Playwriting credits include: Last Christmas (Dirty Protest/Theatr Clwyd – transfer to Soho Theatre); The Knowledge (Dirty Protest/Royal Court, ‘Surprise Theatre’ Season); My Father’s Hands (Paines Plough, Come To Where I’m From); Lacuna (Three Streets Productions, New Wimbledon Studio). He has also written short plays for Sherman Cymru, Velvet Ensemble, Ugly Sisters and Look You Made. Matthew’s short play, On Hold, was recently published in literary magazine, Bare Fiction. He is a graduate of Sherman Cymru’s Advanced Writers Group and is currently developing a number of full-length plays.
He teaches at drama schools (Drama Studio London, East 15) and the Actor’s Centre London. He has faciltated a number a workshops for the Royal and Derngate where he is an associate artist. Frank is particularly interested in how to use clown and playfulness to create funny, moving and sometimes tragic theatre. Together with John Wright he has created two solo clown shows ‘The Confetti Maker’and ‘Goodbye Gunther’ a comedy about death.
He trained in mime and physical theatre, Clown, Fool and Improvisation and studied Performance at the Central School for Speech of Drama.
He has worked with companies including Sixth Sense (Bob Man on the Moon), Travelling Light (Cloudland), Red Herring, (Paschale Straighton), The Troubadours (Franki Anderson), Theatre Rites (Hospital works, Lighten Up), Dende Collective (Piranha Lounge, Kwaidan, C-attack), Gonzo Moose (I am a Viking), Royal and Derngate (Knitwits, Minibreak, Flathampton) Adrenalin Dance, Theatre Alibi (Lost and found), Birdnest (Blown Away) and Oily Cart.