Artist Support Associates

Four members of Theatre Bristol's team play a key role in supporting artists: both practicing theatre makers working partly as mentors, partly as consultants, from sounding-boards one minute to creative counsellors the next, the Artist Support Associates are here to help you do what you want to do.


Artist Support Associates 2016-18

Theatre Bristol's Artist Support Associates are currently Gemma PaintinEmma Williams and Karla Shacklock who will be in post until February 2018. Previous Artist Support Associates include Laura Dannequin (2016-17), Lucinka Eisler and Jo Bannon (2015-16) and Simon Day (2013-15).

If you would like to contact all our current Artist Support Associates, you can do so by emailing Otherwise you will find their individual Theatre Bristol email addresses below.


Gemma Paintin

Gemma Paintin has is one half of Bristol based company Action Hero, the collaborative, interdisciplinary performance practice between herself and James Stenhouse, spanning theatre, live art, installation, one on one work and participatory projects. Over the past 11 years, Gemma has created and toured her work with Action Hero to over 25 countries across 5 continents, presenting at some of the worlds most well respected arts venues and festivals, including PS122 in New York, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Brisbane Festival and Theatre de la Ville in Paris. She works in multiple roles within the collaboration, as co-director, performer, writer, devisor, designer and producer. She also works as an occasional lecturer, and is currently teaching Masters students at Central School of Speech and Drama.

In 2016, along with her regular collaborator James, Gemma was shortlisted for the world's only prize for live art; the Anti Festival International Prize for Live Art, for her contribution to the field.

Contact Gemma.

Emma Williams

Emma has been directing theatre for over 20 years.  She works for a wide range of theatre makers in varying roles that include director, facilitator dramaturge and writer. She has worked with acclaimed puppet company Pickled Image, award winning composer Verity Standen, and she recently co-directed Vic Llewelyn and Kid Carpet’s Edinburgh fringe hit The Castle Builder.  She has directed shows for The Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bath Theatre Royal and Mayfest.

Emma also works outdoors and has directed large outdoor productions for Inside Out Festival in Dorset, Farnham Maltings and Cheltenham Literary festival. For the last eight years, she has been performance Director for The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Design and Puppetry production. Three years ago, she began to develop performance work that responded to landscape with established theatre designer Mary Drummond.

Emma collaborates with inventor and puppet maker Max Humphries to develop new techniques for commissioning writers for puppetry, she curates the professional development strand of The Bristol Festival of Puppetry, and she teaches performance at City of Bristol College.

Contact Emma.

Karla Shacklock - currently on maternity leave

Since graduating with a 1st class BA (Hons) in 2002 and a PhD in dance in 2005, Karla has toured her own work extensively throughout Europe and performed internationally with various dance, circus and physical theatre companies. She has delivered masterclasses throughout Europe, held a senior lecturing post at Bath Spa University, had her book and numerous articles published and been commissioned to choreograph works for dance, theatre, opera, film and youth groups.

Karla was the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of multi-award winning physical theatre and multimedia company 'Precarious', which produced and toured works for five years and now runs the award-winning 'Karla Shacklock Company' based in Bristol. Karla regularly works as a Movement Director for other large-scale theatre productions - most recently she collaborated with Tom Morris (Warhorse) on 'World Cup Final 1966' and with Michael Oakley on 'The Life and Times of Fanny Hill', both at Bristol Old Vic.

Karla's heart is well and truly in Bristol and over the past 12 years has committed much energy to the city and its artists. She is looking forward to continue to do this in her new role as ASA at TB. 

Contact Karla

Getting in touch 

If you would like to meet with either of the associates, first have a good read about our Artist and Producer Support. If you think that now is the right time to meet, drop one of them a line.

News and evaluation

See our news item for announcement of our Artist Support Associates for 2016-18. 

You can download our evaluation of the first year below, and read more about it in our news item

Download Year 1 ASA Evaluation 

"I'm a theatre maker (performer, director and writer) and Co-Artistic Director of Inspector Sands. We´ve been touring work in the UK and abroad for ten years,  to venues ranging from small village halls in Somerset to big auditoriums in Beijing – with BAC,  Almeida, Southbank Centre and Mayfest somewhere in between. We try to make work that can scale up or down for a range of contexts and more recently have started making outdoor work.  Our current show in development, The Lounge, was recently shown as work-in-progress at the National Theatre and will open in Edinburgh this summer.

I also work freelance as a performer and director and recently started developing some solo work through Ferment. One thing I love about Bristol is that it feels possible here to wear more than one hat.

My background is in devising, with an emphasis on collaboration with lighting and sound designers, and I´m especially interested in the role of writing within the devising process. I trained at the Lecoq school and as a Feldenkrais practitioner and my work is usually driven by an interest in movement – I'm fascinated by the way human beings can transform physically and by the emotional resonance movement can provoke in an audience.

I teach acting and devising at the Central School of Speech and Drama and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School."

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