Joe Hancock is a director, producer and puppeteer. Equally inspired by a childhood visit to Muffin the Mule, and long family walks on the moor, I set up Burn the Curtain with Alexander in 2008, after many years of adventures in independent theatre production and large-scale outdoor events.
I realised I wanted more from theatre and art in general than it was currently giving me- I wanted audiences to be able to have conversations with actors, not just to be talked at, but to talk with. I wanted art to sneak up on me in the most unexpected places, forest, beach or street, and lighten my day, or at least give me something to think about. Most of all, I could see no reason why ‘creativity’ should be the privilege of the few, when each of us has the ability to inspire and create, not just those with access to so called ‘creative’ spaces and buildings.
"I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create." - William Blake
Pinner park where we performed ‘The Adventures of Uncle Lubin’ in 2011 changed rapidly day to day. Once, midshow, I had to explain to 22 (or more..) footballers that we needed their spot for five minutes, and they sweetly moved over, and watched as a man dressed in a submarine accompanied by sixty people dressed as fish disappeared beneath an enormous blue sheet stretched across their makeshift pitch, before re-emerging to meet a group of mermaids. Afterwards they carried on with their game. Both extraordinary, and completely normal at the same time.
Mess maker, Dream weaver, Games master. Kerrie has a rich history of delivering arts projects in a range of settings including schools, care homes, community centre's, parks, beaches and forests.
Kerrie thrives on making exciting work that invites participants and audiences to learn new skills and go on an adventure together. She also likes making a mess and building giant things out of willow. Kerrie has been a community artist living and working in the south west for 20 years and has worked with Burn the Curtain since 2015.
Kerrie is the accessibility and community lead for burn the curtain. She has a particular interest in weaving BSL and multi sensory elements into the companies work.
"If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be." ― Maya Angelou
Building a giant den in the forest with some young people and seeing how many of us can get in to it to take a big group picture.
As a child Richard saw Footsbarn perform Shakespeare. A powerful formative experience of seeing actors close up: fascinating, terrifying and laugh out loud funny, all bathed in sound, light and costume. This planted the seed that grew into his own creative adventures that have taken him around the globe. He is so grateful for this childhood experience of transformative magic that he his called to share and pass on this experience with generations old and new.
Richard’s performances with Burn the Curtain include The Company of Wolves,The Hunting of the Snark, Desperately Seeking Shakespeare and Timothy the Tortoise. He also regularly performs with Wandering Tiger, most recently in The Magnificent Mysto and Humbug! and the award winning short film Hell’s Bells. He has also twice toured with The Common Players. He's a producer, director and performer with Playing Dead. He holds a PhD from University of Exeter in Applied Theatre and works internationally using applied theatre in work-based contexts, using the creative power of theatre for positive change. He’s a keen runner, enjoys performing sleight of hand magic and once walked The Great Wall of China on crutches.
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” ― Henry Ford
The natural world is often the star of the show. A pitch perfect moment in Company of Wolves was when night clouds drew apart and revealed a startling blood moon low over the sea. Breathtaking. ‘How did they do that?!’ memorably gasped one audience member. Unforgettable.
Ruth Webb is a maker, who loves to be outside. She was lucky enough to have been surrounded by music, stories and theatre since birth. She tried growing up and she tried to find her own way in the world. Life took her down a few wiggling paths, until eventually she found her way back home, to the world of theatre.
She has designed and been part of many shows with Burn the Curtain over the last 8 years. Design of Props and Bikes and Stage management of The Adventures of Don Quixotes by Bicycle, Design and performed The Bureau of Extraordinence Survey, Design Costume and Props The Company of Wolves, Design Costume and Props, and Stage managed The Hunting of the Snark and Design Costume Timothy the Tortoise.
Among many of the people she is proud to have worked with...... Stackedwonky Designer, Stage management and Production assistant Theatre Alibi Design Assistant and Quirk Theatre Designer. She also loves building Giants, and running community workshops . She is so very happy to have been able to combine her loves of making and being in the great outdoors in her working life.
Currently she is finding new ways of creating, with natural materials and making fires with children at Forest school.
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ― Albert Einstein
Don Quixote. A family came with their bicycles already beautifully decorated to become horsecycles to join us on our adventure, one was a unicorn which they proudly called the unicycle, of course! A moment of pure joy, when you see that a wonderful idea has spread and inspired others to create for themselves.
Alexander is an actor, stop-motion animator/filmmaker and writer who has been with Burn the Curtain since 2008. As a result he has played Sancho Panza, been an angry Butcher, arrested poets, and plenty more. He has also lost his donkey tricycle down a ditch, and fallen over whilst running - both in front of sell-out crowds. Alexander has made a variety of short films, as well as working on community and academic projects. He loves to explore the surreal side of life, to improvise and be playful with an audience.
From a very young age he was often performing to family, friends, or even just himself. As he studied thinking he'd become a jobbing actor, a realisation formed that it wasn't quite enough. A few decisions later, he met the right people and then he found what he truly wanted to do - interact with audiences, build shared experiences, and help to capture and tell a variety of communities' stories.
“Ideas are like fish. You don’t make the fish. You catch the fish. You can catch ideas from daydreaming, or you can catch ideas from places.” ― David Lynch
It's great when audiences get lost in the experience. When arresting poets in London, one man was determined to nab one on a charge of being an ‘unlicensed minstrel’. He sang, skipped and danced around poets on a footbridge until they joined in and then shouted “Ha, you are under arrest!” Genius.
When I watched Minshell’s costumes perform at the Atlanta Olympics Opening Ceremony in 1996 I had an eerie sensation of familiarity, knowing nothing except that that was what I wanted to do. Two opportunities synchronised their appearance in 2001 which marked the foundation of my career as a maker- To make costumes and puppets for carnival and to work with young people with a charity benefitting their personal development. Celebration of self and culture through the spectacle, and that of personal growth by learning new skills within nurturing environments are the elements that merged and remained constant in my work and continue to be true to my aspirations today.
I believe every person has the opportunity to be truly happy, to play more, and more importantly- to be spectacular, on mass. I now make giant puppets, wings and costumes for world renowned outdoor performances, carnivals and opening and closing ceremonies. I am very passionate about creating work outside of theatre, and in the elements, and Burn The Curtain bring humour, drama and playfulness to the scene which rounds it up beautifully.
“Every moment has the potential to transcend space and time.” ― Haresh Sippy
My favourite BTC moment was watching Tommy Cooper dance around Exeter High Street during a busy late night shopping night, dishing out laughs and hugs, and being allowed to stay out late by the council!
Theo is a freelance corporate and editorial photographer and filmmaker who has been working with Burn the Curtain since 2012. He has shot publicity photos and reportage of shows including Don Quixote on Bicycle, Company of Wolves and Hunting the Snark as well as work on one-off performances. He has become accustomed to running (and cycling) round woods at night, shooting fast-moving performances with whatever light was available as discretely as possible.
"We’re eatin’ their food.” ― Wyatt (Peter Fonda) in Easy Rider
When all the conditions come together at the right moment - like the light in the clouds on a very chilly March evening providing the perfect back-drop for the Hunting the Snark publicity shoot.
Community steering group
Lisa has been a participatory artist for over 15 years. After completing a two year foundation degree in community performance she has practised and taught drama, arts and crafts, running festival workshops, site specific art and facilitating community groups, one of which subsequently won a healthy communities award. She has particular interests in arts, the environment and community.
Michelle has over 20 years experience of working in Local Government and the Health Service at senior and executive levels in London, including service management, performance and leadership work , executive advice and strategic partnership management. Michelle was the lead Associate with the Local Government Association on child poverty with responsibility across the English Regional networks, working with the Child Poverty Unit, Local Authorities, Local Partnerships and National VCS organisations to understand and tackle child poverty and social inclusion in the Capital and across England.She has worked as an independent expert adviser to Save The Children, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the National Children’s Bureau.
Michelle has also worked as a volunteer adviser for Citizens Advice, specialising in benefits and debt advice. She has a keen interest in social inclusion and tackling inequality and is an active local community member.
Wayne has over 20 years experience as a performer, producer and choreographer. After touring hotels around Mallorca, as a dancer, Wayne graduated with a Performing Arts BA Hons degree in London. After which, he worked with groundbreaking theatre companies such as Frantic Assembly and Goat and Monkey Theatre Company. He performed with the latter in various shows including ‘A Little Neck’ at Hampton Court Palace. He has worked with a variety of fringe companies such as Levantes Dance Theatre, Metra Theatre and Pascal Theatre Co, as well as working with established practitioner such as Colin Pool, Tom Dale, Julia Pascal, Thomas Kampe, Lucy Richardson and Anna Masing.
Wayne’s other experience includes performing at the Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival, producing PHD projects and co-founding the practice-based research company, LunatiKos Dance Theatre company, which he took to Poland and workshopped with young people.
In most recent years, Wayne has found himself working, providing account management at major finance and recruitment companies, gaining the insight to set up his own fashion business. He is currently formulating the idea for a second, more ethical, business that places female wellbeing at the centre of its vision.
Wayne’s performance, style and aesthetic influences include Commedia dell’Arte, Feldenkrais, Bauhaus and Mid-Century Modern.
As a Fine Arts graduate and former teacher, I am a passionate supporter of the Arts. I have been involved in a voluntary capacity with theatre productions at my childrens' school, a theatre school in Exeter and for a friend's short film productions. I am keen to use my enthusiasm and varied life experiences to steer development of the arts and have been a member of the Education Outreach committee for Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival for the last 4 years. My current professional position is working for a prison-based Charity which has given me experience of working within the Third Sector which I hope will be useful in the context of Burn The Curtain's development as a CIC.
Fiona currently works as an independent freelance producer and fundraiser, she works with a variety of artists and companies including Burn the Curtain (outdoor promenade theatre), Ruth Mitchell (playwright and performer) and Stacked Wonky Dance (contemporary outdoor dance). Fiona has a deep interest in creative work which reflects the uniqueness of people and place, of landscape and space, and of human relationship with our natural environments. She lives and works in the rural wilds of North Devon. With many strings to her creative bow, she’s been Director of Appledore Arts and the Appledore Visual Arts Festival, Producer & Programmer for Beaford Arts and a founding Director of the North Devon Biosphere Foundation. Fiona co-produced for Burn the Curtain between 2011 and 2019.
Becca was raised on a diet of Kneehigh Theatre and the Notting Hill Carnival, and has been in love with outdoor performance ever since. She studied physical theatre and devising at LISPA (London International School of Performing Arts, 2005-07), and has worked on numerous site-responsive and interactive productions, including Hotel Medea and Lament for Medea with Zecora Ura & PJM in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the UK. Becca moved to the South-West in 2010, where she works as a performer, deviser and drama facilitator. She began collaborating with Burn the Curtain in 2011, co-founding the Exeter Performers Playground, and is co-founder and performer with Exeter-based Inventmore Theatre.
Paschale Straiton is a theatre maker based in North Devon, specialising in physical comedy and outdoor performance. She has worked with a range of companies in a range of roles, with recent work including puppetry direction for The Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton, performance direction for the Bureau of Silly Ideas in the Fens, co-devising and performing in Full Circle for Avanti Display. She is Co-Director of Red Herring Productions, which creates playfully provocative performance that encourages audiences to take an active part in performance. The company is currently developing creative walks in North Devon.
Bryony Reynolds is an actor, trained at the University of Exeter, graduating with a BA Honours degree in Drama. She has since toured Macbeth with the Young Shakespeare Company (YSC); performed Twelfth Night with Midsummer Madness at RSC Dell (2013), and with Sun & Moon Theatre at Mission Theatre, Bath (2017); and she has performed both Shakespeare in Hell (Brite Theatre co.) and Twelfth Night (Anthos Arts) at Exeter Northcott Theatre. In addition to performing Shakespeare’s classics, Bryony has worked in screen and as a physical theatre workshop facilitator. She has been thrilled to work with Burn the Curtain as Wolf Alice in The Company of Wolves (2017) and Captain Isabella in The Hunting of the Snark (2018).
Jonty is the UK's number one Johnny Depp look-alike, sound-alike and act-alike. Covering the many diverse roles of Mr Depp and creating a few characters of his own Jonty Depp is much more than just a celebrity lookalike. As well as working as an actor, Jonty is also an accomplised Director, Writer and Prop builder and has worked on various film and theatrical projects.
Alice studied for her BA in Drama at Manchester University, graduating with a first she went on to live, work, and perform in New York, London and Berlin. Before returning to Univeristy to study for her MFA in Theatre practice. As a researcher and a theatre maker, her key interests are; site based, promenade performance, verbatim theatre, and storytelling. Alice has performed In Battersea Arts centre, Kensington Palace, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Manchester’s Hazard Festival, a Cornish mine, and on a boat in Plymouth, plus a few more unusual locations. Currently working on a solo show, and collaborating with Bristol based artist Martha King, Alice can also be seen in Wild Works Enchanted Palace, in London.
Bernadette Russell is an author and storyteller who has created work for National Theatre, Southbank Centre, Birmingham Rep, Thames Festival, National Trust, English Heritage, BFI and LIFT Festival amongst many others. Her new book “The Little Book of Wonder” was published by Orion in November 2018. She is Writer In Residence for Talliston House and Community Artist at the Royal Albert Hall.
Claire Rammelkamp is an actress, theatre maker, and writer from Bristol. She studied literature at Oxford University then joined the National Youth Theatre where she founded her all-female theatre company, Wonderbox. In 2018 Wonderbox became associate company at The Space Theatre in London, although Claire writes their material at home in Bristol. Claire’s plays focus on feminist themes with a comic edge, and her play ‘A Womb of One’s Own’ was a BBC Comedy Writersroom finalist. She loves to work with other theatre companies to learn new skills. Working with Burn the Curtain in 2017 taught her to perform out in the elements and was the spookiest performance adventure she’s ever been on.
Matt Lawrenson is a theatre maker and actor. He has toured physical and cabaret theatre performances with ‘The Medicine show’ and teaches drama locally. His most recent role has been as artistic director of ‘Eccentric Exeter’ (comedy history tour) which is due to be performed again this year. After years of being fascinated by promande performance possibilities Matthew Lawrenson has happily joined ‘Burn the Curtain’. This cycling collaboration has stepped things up a gear and realigned him to become the bike obsessed Duke of a distant quixotic kingdom.
Alice Robinson is a theatre practitioner specialising in playful approaches to performance from clown and mask performance and training to direction and movement direction. She is experienced in devising theatre that incorporates movement, comedy and ensemble play as well as text based work. She teaches at RADA, Brunel and Colchester Institute and has worked at many more schools in the past. She has directed for Les Femmes Ridicule, Goofus Theatre, Sophie Willan, Hotcoals Theatre Ensemble, Molly Orange and numerous student productions including adaptionations of Mark Ravenhills ‘Pool no Water’, Peter Handke’s ‘The hour we knew nothing of eachother’ and Alan Bennett’s Kafka’s Dick. She co runs Clown lab, training organisation offering workshops to actors and creatives interested in play.