Who We Are

Theatre Bristol is a laboratory combining collective action for the arts with open, generous grassroots support. We're a group of people who create the conditions to make great art with as wide and diverse a community as possible. 

Mel Scaffold:CEO
Tanuja Amarasuriya: Director of Research
Sarah Kingswell: Director of Business Development
Gemma Paintin:Artist Support Associate
Laura Dannequin:Artist Support Associate
Emma Williams:Artist Support Associate
Karla Shacklock: Artist Support Associate
Sophie Turner: Administrator
Katherine Hall: Associate Producer
Helen Edwards: Associate Producer (working with Agnieszka Blonska)

CEO: Mel Scaffold

I love experiments. As CEO I help design and shape new ideas that we think could make large-scale change in the arts. Part of my role is being out and about developing relationships and partnerships that will bring new opportunities to the sector. And a lot of it is about working out how these experiments can benefit the most people, connect beyond our existing boundaries and create a healthy environment where more people can participate in and make a living from brilliant art. 

Before this role as Company Producer I gave senior producing support to a number of artists of proven excellence, resulting in new nationational and international commissions, new partnerships and better company infrastructures. In addition to business development, I also scavenged props from charity shops and wrestled with the vagaries of international taxation systems. You can read about the Company Producer pilot here. We're now working with MAYK and Bristol Old Vic Ferment to build on the evidence of this pilot and roll out a new network of artists and producers across the city. 

Until 2015 I was also Development Facilitator for Create Gloucestershire, an organisation instigating change in the arts sector through collective thinking and working.

Previous incarnations include producing live art and dance at Arnolfini, spoken word at Apples & Snakes and new writing inspired by biomedical science at Theatrescience. I also squeezed in an MA in Performance Research to develop my own practice around the interplay of different performance languages, and am particularly interested in creating high quality work and experiences for and with young people, which I’ve pursued with Travelling Light, Real Ideas Organisation and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

I'm Chair of Trustees for Firebird Theatre, a company of disabled actors, and love a good horizon.

Director of Research: Tanuja Amarasuriya 

I’m Theatre Bristol’s Director of Research, which essentially means I focus on designing, analyzing and sharing TB’s ideas, thinking and learning. It’s a new role from 2017, and we hope it’ll help TB to be even more useful to more people. 

I’m a theatre director and dramaturg, also doing bits of sound design and filmmaking when I get the chance. I mostly make work through my company Sleepdogs, an interdisciplinary collaboration with writer/composer Timothy X Atack. We make theatre, film, and sound work characterised by surprising storytelling and visceral, sensory aesthetics. We’re into genre and modern things, and how we exist as humans in a technologically and culturally dispersed world. Sleepdogs’ work has been developed and presented nationally and internationally including at the National Theatre (London), Bristol Old Vic, Seattle International Film Festival, BBC Radio, Manchester Royal Exchange and BIOS (Athens).

Theatre Bristol always strives to champion independent artists, so my role is also about making sure that the lived, current experiences of being a practicing theatremaker influence TB’s direction and decision-making at a senior level. With initiatives like this Director of Research role, the Artist Support Associates and TB Agents we hope TB can keep increasing the profile of independent artists as strategic experts in our industry.

If you want some ancient history: I joined Theatre Bristol in 2005, after being Live Art & Dance Coordinator at Arnolfini for 5 years, after working on Arnolfini’s box office for 2 years. I was Associate Producer at In Between Time, working on their first 4 festivals and international touring projects. Before all that, I worked in a bookshop (national chain, still eking out an existence) and a record shop (independent, now sadly, defunct). 

I’m a human woman. Born in Sri Lanka, raised just outside Durham, living in Bristol. Sci-fi fan. Pedant. Optimist. I try and see as much work as I can, so if you see me out and about and what to introduce yourself, rock up and say hello.

Director of Business Development: Sarah Kingswell

(Biog to come)

Artist Support Associate: 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.

Artist Support Associate: Laura Dannequin

Laura Dannequin is a French-born artist working predominantly in and with movement. She is interested in creating and participating in work that is present, live, raw and explores bodily being in the world: the dancing body, the social body, the diseased and medicated body.She has danced in choreography by Saburo Teshigawara/Karas, Deborah Hay, Janyce Michellod, Senza Tempo and was a member of Daghdha Dance Company (Eire) 2006-2010. 

Since moving back to the UK (2010), she has developped a practice that encompasses performance, installation and print; works include In the Making, Dance Dark Dance, The Secret Slowness of Movement (Dance Umbrella 2016) and Hardy Animal which has toured in both arts and medical contexts and was selected for Aerowaves 2016.

She is a regular and long term collaborator to Dan Canham and Still House, most recently working as associate choreographer on Of Riders & Running Horses; she also enjoys working as a choreographic advisor with an increasing number of contemporary performance makers.

She is currently studying Body-Mind Centering, working as Associate Curator on ‘Feel It’, a festival exploring pain and breath, and embarking on a collaboration with dance artist Stephanie McMann for new work in 2017.

Artist Support Associate: 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

Artist Support Associate: Karla Shacklock

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. 

Associate Producer: Katherine Hall

(Biog to come)

Administrator: Sophie Turner

I'm Theatre Bristol's administrator. My job varies depending on what’s going on; most of the time I’m working with the Sarah to help with company administration and finance, event co-ordination and the running of our website. I also assist the producing team with individual projects and artist development, or I’m playing with Betty, the office dog.

I am also a freelance drama and dance practitioner for Entertainingly Different in Devon (my lovely home) and Travelling Light Theatre Company

When I'm not working I love to hula hoop, go on adventures, make cakes and attempt to do acro-yoga.

Project Associates

Laura Street (Cultural Curriculum for Bristol - dance lead)
Laura Street trained at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and has been a Bristol based Dance Artist for the past 10 years. She has worked as a performer, choreographer and teacher on a wide range of projects, productions and tours for some exciting and brilliant organisations and companies. These include Dance South Gloucestershire, Oily Cart Theatre Company, the egg, Edge Arts and Travelling Light Theatre Company, of whom is she an associate artist. She is the Artist Director of aboutNOWish who make immersive and interactive work for young people and who are associate artists of the egg, Bath.

Lina B. Frank (Circus City 17)
Lina is a producer and programmer based in Bristol, UK and Malmö, Sweden. She work with Circus Dance and Theatre – with bold and brave people, explorers and visionaries at heart.

Lina is a specialist in artist development and particularly for Contemporary Circus Arts in European context. She is a member of the Fresh Arts Coalition Europe, a founder of Interval Bristol, an associate of Live Art UK as well as Ambassador for AMOC in Copenhagen.

Kate Hartoch (Circus City 17)
Kate is a freelance producer specialising in working with circus performance which has grown from strength to strength as an art form over the last 15 years.

Her interests and experience include programming for festivals and venues, commissioning new work, production work with emerging companies and realising one-off events.

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