Home People

Biographies of the Take the Space team

Chris Barnes: actor and director

Chris' professional life began at eight years of age when he became a chorister at Westminster Abbey. After graduating from Durham University with an Honours degree in Music he ran away to Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey's Circus in America to train at Clown College and spent two seasons there as band instructor.

Since then on screen, he has appeared alongside Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Allan Bates and Michael Gambon in the films Much Ado About Nothing, Frankenstein, The Grotesque and Amazing Grace. On television he has appeared in Silent Witness, Ivanhoe, Wycliffe, Waking the Dead, Trial and Retribution, Dalziel and Pascoe, Midsomer Murders, Eastenders, Casualty, The Bill, New Tricks, Endeavour and The Musketeers. Chris also featured in the dramas The Ebbtide amd Hornblower.

His theatre work has taken him all over the world including Yugoslavia, South America, Ireland and the USA. In this country, he has performed at the Young Vic, the National Theatre, the West End, in a season of Shakespeare at the Old Vic and for Actors Touring Company - a repertoire of original work at the Donmar Warehouse. A founder member of ATC, he received the Kaleidescope award for best performance in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Chris has also appeared at The Bush Theatre in London, Liverpool Playhouse and performed in two seasons for The Traverse in Edinburgh.

A founder member of Take the Space, he directed Sam & I and performs Hanging Hooke, a solo piece about the great C17th genius Robert Hooke. He also performed in Dolce Via - playing Freddie and in STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy, he now plays William Herschel.

Chris has also written several plays and composed original music for many shows including Canterbury Tales at the Prince of Wales in London's West End and  The New Vic's tours of Robin Hood and the Hunchback of Notre Dame in which he also performed.

Siobhán Nicholas: performer and writer

Before training as an actor at the Drama Centre, Siobhán graduated from London University with a BA Honours in History. Since then she has performed at most of the major reps in the UK including Birmingham Rep, Mercury Theatre Colchester, Manchester Contact and The Royal Exchange, Manchester. She has toured with Actors Touring Company, The New Vic, Hull Truck and The Natural Theatre Company. Her film appearances include Down In the Valley, Little Dorrit, The Fool, Sparkle, Baby, Sparkle [Dublin Film Festival] and she has featured in two award winning pieces by the film maker, Roz Mortimer: Wormcharmer (London Film Festival) and Neverland. TV credits include Lucy Shaw in George Bernard Shaw with Brenda Fricker, Phyllis Blew in Shadow Of The Noose, Helen Mirren's Detective Parker in Prime Cracker, Minni in Bully - also Grange Hill, Hollyoaks, The Bill and Casualty.

Her first solo play, Sam & I opened at St Olaves Church in the City Of London in the Samuel Pepys Tercentenary Festival before embarking on a tour which included performances at The Mill at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Ustinov Studio Bath Theatre Royal, BT at Oxford Playhouse, Eastbourne Theatres, Cheltenham Everyman Studio and the One Culture Festival for the Royal Society.

Her second play, Hanging Hooke, performed by Chris Barnes, has been on numerous national tours which have included The Mill at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud, The Rose Kingston, The Minerva at Chichester Festival Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scaborough, B2 Belgrade Theatre, Eastbourne Theatres, Greenwich Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, The Unity Theatre in Liverpool, York Theatre Royal Studio, BT at Oxford Playhouse and the One Culure Festival for the Royal Society.

Dolce Via, her third play about music hall and circus artistes in which she also performs with Chris Barnes, was a coproduction with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud. The tour included The Mill at Guildford's YAT, BT at Oxford Playhouse, Cheltenham Everyman Studio, The Unity Theatre Liverpool, B2 Belgrade Theatre, Harrogate Theatre, Greenwich Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru and Eastbourne Theatres.

"STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy" in which she plays Caroline Herschel is her fourth play, a coproduction with TOM - The Old Market and Greenwich Theatre, which opened in 2013 at TOM. There have now been two tours which have included The Rose Kingston, BT Oxford Playhouse, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Dublin's Festival of Curiosity, Greenwich Theatre, The Mill at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud, Eastbourne Theatres, Ustinov Studio Bath Theatre Royal, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh and The Minerva at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Hanging Hooke was nominated and short listed for the Meyer Whitworth Prize and STELLA was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn award..

                                                                      Chris Hannan: Dramaturg for STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy                                                                                              

Chris' own plays have been staged by the RSC, The Globe, The Traverse Edinburgh and the National Theatre of Scotland

In 1991 the RSC commissioned and staged his adaptation of Ibsen’s THE PRETENDERS  which was directed by Danny Boyle at the Barbican and then in 1992 a version of Gogol’s GAMBLERS was produced at the Tricycle, starring Mark Rylance, Phil Daniels and the Russian actor Oleg Menshikov. 

Chris was nominated Lloyds Bank Playwright of the Year for SHINING SOULS in 1996 which was produced at the Old Vic in 1997 by Sir Peter Hall’s Company, having premiered at the Traverse the year before.   SHINING SOULS was revived by the Tron in 2003 and won a CATS (Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland ) Award for Best Production.

THE EVIL DOERS won numerous awards when first performed at the Bush Theatre in 1990 including a Time Out Award and Best Play London Fringe. THE BABY, origninally directed by Michael Boyd at the Tron in 1990, was then also performed at the Bush in a production, directed by Polly Irvin in 1993

ELIZABETH GORDON QUINN was revived by the National Theatre of Scotland in 2006, its inaugural year, following its first production at the Traverse in 1985. His most recent play THE THREE MUSKETEERS AND THE PRINCESS OF SPAIN for children and adults was staged by English Touring Theatre, Coventry Belgrade and the Traverse in 2010.  In 2011 it was nominated in the CATS in four categories, winning Best New Play and Best Ensemble and in the same year, his play God of Soho opened at The Globe in London, starring Phil Daniels
Chris is now working on projects for Birmingham Rep and The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

Polly Irvin: Director with the company for STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy.

Polly is a Time Out award-winning theatre director and former head of the BA programme in theatre directing at Rose Bruford College in London

Irvin trained as an actress at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and upon graduating worked as an actress in theatre and television for nearly a decade before turning to directing. She founded Wild Iris theatre company in 1992, for which she directed theatre productions at the Bristol Old Vic theatre, the Tricycle Theatre, the Bush Theatre and the Battersea Arts Centre. As a freelance director she directed Shakespeare’s As you like it at the Bristol Old Vic, and a devised adaptation of Hansel and Gretel for the Lyric Hammersmith in London.
In 2002, Irvin published her first book, Directing for the Stage, a series of interviews with contemporary theatre directors including Deborah Warner, Robert Lepage and Trevor Nunn.

Sian Webber: performs the role of "Jess" in STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy

Sian trained at Dartington and has been a performer for over twenty five years. A familiar face on television, she is probably best known for playing Ritchie Scott in Eastenders and for her role as Dr Melanie Kilpatrick in the ITV series Bliss with Simon Shepherd. Sian has also played featured roles in Linda la Plante’s Trial and Retribution, Above Suspicion and Silent Witness. Most recently she appeared in a new ITV drama “Without you" starring Anna Friel and will shortly be seen in Midsomer Murders. Her film work includes Thin Ice and Young Blades. 

Onstage, Sian has played leading roles at Bristol Old Vic and Salisbury Playhouse. With a commitment to new plays, her London appearances have included work at The Young Vic, Riverside Studios, The Gate, Battersea Arts Centre and at Theatre 503 in Hydrocracker’s production of The Consultant with James Wilby.

David Fielder: mentor on Dolce Via and Co Director for 2nd tour of STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy

David Fielder has been a member of the acting profession for 43 years. He trained at The Central School Of Speech & Drama and since then has played leading roles at The Globe, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court, The Young Vic, The Donmar Warehouse and The Royal National Theatre. He has toured with Shared Experience and Out of Joint whilst playing lead roles in reps across the UK including Manchester Royal Exchange, Theatre Royal Bath and Liverpool Playhouse. He has performed Prospero all over the world in a site specific production of ‘The Tempest’ with the AB&C Theatre Company and created the role of The Ref in “Trafford Tansi”, on tour and in the West End.
Early on in his career, David worked with Beckett in Paris in the 80s, performing an unpublished collection of his work called ‘Beginning To End.’ Most recently he played Toby Belch in the English Touring Theatre's acclaimed production of Twelfth Night. His TV credits include The Bill, Heartbeat, Inpsector Morse, Widows and The Naked Civil Servant. He has also appeared in the films Yanks, The Pledge and Superman 111.
In 2015 he was Co Director with Polly Irvin for our second production and tour of STELLA.

John Ramm : Director for Dolce Via

John has worked extensively in theatre for over thirty years. On stage his performances include productions at The RSC, The National Theatre, The Donmar Warehouse, Shakespeare's Globe, The Traverse Edinburgh, The Royal Court and London's West End. He performed the titular role in Liverpool Playhouse's tour of Moliere's Tartuffe and played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at The Rose Theatre in Kingston. For ten years John has been a member of The National Theatre of Brent and currently he is playing Sir Thomas More and Sir Henry Norris in The RSC's productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies on Broadway. On screen, his recent appearances include The Palace, Foyle's War and The Love Punch as Emma Thompson's ex boyfriend.

Annie Castledine: Dramaturge and Associate on Hanging Hooke and Dolce Via

A nationally acclaimed theatre director, Annie was Artistic Director at Derby Playhouse and Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Clywd in Mold. Since then her work has included productions at The National Theatre and the Royal Court. For Theatre Complicite, she has been Associate Artist on a number of productions including - A Disappearing Number, A MInute Too Late and Measure For Measure. Most recently Annie directed Medea at The Cambridge Arts Theatre.

Arthur Pedlar / Clown Vercoe: Magic and Comic Advisor for Dolce Via

Arthur's career spans an illustrious sixty years. One of his first engagements was at The Cirque Medrano in Paris playing a stooge for Buster Keaton who at that time topped the bill. Since then he has performed in the former Soviet Union, at the first World Clown Congress in Sweden and at festivals in the States, Scandinavia, Singapore, Japan and specially for Prince Rainier in The Throne Room at his palace in Monte Carlo. In 1988 he became tutor at Wisconsin University's Clown Summer School. He then had the honour of being the first living non American clown to be voted into the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Centre, Milwaukee. Arthur was also President of The World Clown Association from 2003 until 2004 and in 2002 became involved with the Circus School of Israel which teaches skills to Palestinian and Jewish youngsters together [ its raison d'etre] He is now their Honorary President. Arthur still performs throughout the UK and Europe and at seventy five rides a mean unicylcle. Furher details on www.goldiellepromotions.com   

Jean Tyler: research mentor for Dolce Via, advising on the world of Variety and Concert Artistes

Jean trained as a soprano and was a member of D'oyly Carte before joining what became a hugely successful comedy and song duo. She was a Concert Artiste during the golden era of the fifties and the sixties, working with Ali Bongo, Max Jaffa, the great Geraldo, Cyril Fletcher, Pamela Condell and many other iconic figures.

Lizzie Wyllie: costumes for Sam & I and Hanging Hooke {RIP}

Lizzie worked extensively in both Theatre and Opera. Her designs included sets and cosutmes for Cinderella and Loot for Theatre Clwyd, Canterbury Tales and Ghost Stories for the Welsh Drama Company and The Charge of the Light Brigade for the National Theatre of Brent. She made the clown costumes for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the animated toys for Mary Poppins and the Birds and Grasshopper for the Royal Opera house's production of Cunning Little Vixen. Every summer Lizzie worked for the New Shakespeare Co in Regents Park. She is sorely missed by many.

Gus Munro: scenic artist and designer for Sam & I, Hanging Hooke, Dolce Via and STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy.

Gus trained at RADA, Camberwell College of Arts and Brighton University. She has designed for all our Take the Space productions - including the hands on scenic artist projects. With the artist Isobel Smith, she set up "Nosebag", a company taking art workshops and events to venues all over the UK and as far afield as The Ukraine. As a figurative artist, she has exhibited in London Galleries and the Brighton Festival Open Houses.

Sharon Davey: costumes and set construction for Dolce Via

Sharon has worked extensively with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud's Youth Theatre as their resident designer

Chris Umney: lighting designer for Sam & I

Since graduating from the Visual and Performing Arts (Theatre) BA course at Brighton University in 1995 Chris has been working as a composer, sound engineer, lighting designer & production manager for performance companies both in the UK & in Europe. He has toured the UK with numerous companies including High Spin; Sound & Fury; The People Show; Theatre & Beyond; Trio Con Brio; Voodoo Vaudeville; Quirk Productions; Bandbazi; Bright FX; Facepack Theatre; Intoto Theatre; Clout Dance Theatre; Barb Jungr; & Brighton Theatre Events.

From 1994 to 1998 he was fortunate to work throughout Europe with the Brighton based Divas Dance Theatre Company, & in 2001 Chris toured to 24 theatres in The Netherlands with Swamp Circus Theatre's production of "Moto". Most recently he has been working in London as Production Manager for Schtanhaus on BAC's Xmas show "World Cup Final 1966" & for Oxford Stage Company / Dumbfounded Theatre's 'The Last Waltz' Spring season at The Arcola.

Emily Laurens: lighting designer for Hanging Hooke

Emily was resident lighting designer at the Little Angel Theatre and then for New Perspectives on When Icicles Hang by the Wall and The Butterfly Lion, also making puppets for The Butterfly Lion and Long Way Home. She worked with Theatre-Rites on Finders Keepers, Shopworks and is now touring with The Thought that Counts.

Sarah Sage: lighting designer for Dolce Via

Sarah is the resident lighting designer and studio manager for The Mill Studio, Guiildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Owen Johnston: sound for Hanging Hooke and Dolce Via

Owen has not spoken a word for over 20 years, preferring to communicate through the medium of electronic music. He does composition and sound design for film and theatre and will work for food.

Ken Hodgson: graphic design for Sam & I, Hanging Hooke, Dolce Via and STELLA

Ken of Good Dog Design was kidnapped from his posh London advertising job by Take the Space in 2005 {remember those amazing Times' advertisements in the London Underground?} We will never ever release him.

Amy Strike: marketing assitant for social media

Amy has worked as a freelance marketing assistant for various companies including Take the Space, Fire Hazard and Electric Voice Theatre.  She redesigned Electric Voice Theatre’s website and built their social marketing campaign and was marketing assistant for Take the Space’s two national tours of “STELLA, a story of women, their men and astronomy” in 2013 and 2015. She also helped in 2013 to organize the Museums at Night Festival while interning for Culture24, a digital publishing and events agency.Most recently, Amy has been promoting events for Fire Hazard, a street games company, in Australia, Germany and China as well as regular monthly events in the UK.