Meet The Team - Red Ladder Theatre Company

Red Ladder Theatre Company

Meet The Team

Rod Dixon
Artistic Director

Rod became Artistic Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company in 2006, following his role as associate director at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth. He also ran The Hub Theatre School in Cornwall and was an actor with several companies including Kneehigh Theatre. Directing credits for Red Ladder include Where’s Vietnam?, Forgotten Things, Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection, Ugly, Sex & Docks & Rock ‘N’ Roll, Big Society! Promised Land, The Damned United, The Shed Crew, Mother Courage and Glory. Rod is both a life-long Liverpool supporter and a believer in Proudhon’s principles of anarchy – the two might be connected.

Chris Lloyd

A Red Ladder employee of over 10 years, Chris is still in constant awe of the talent he has to work with at the company. Lloydy stumbled across Red Ladder after stints at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Rosehill Theatre in Cumbria, three years in the south of Spain and ten years in London at Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Shaw Theatre in Euston.

Never happier than when sitting in his parlour counting his pennies Chris occasionally emerges, blinking, into the theatrical spotlight for opening nights, launches, free lunches and end of tour thrashes.


Sasha Hawkes
Marketing Manager

Sasha joined Red Ladder in May 2017.

Sasha’s background fuses illustrated publishing with arts marketing. Following completing her BA English Literature and MA Cultural & Creative Industries at King’s College London and a year-long stint as an English Language teacher in Japan, Sasha went on to work for two East Asian theatre companies – Ichiza Theatre and Yellow Earth – followed by nine years working in the publishing industry in the fields of production, sales and marketing at Scholastic Children’s Books, Nick Hern Books and Quadrille.

Sasha returned to her home city of Leeds in 2015 and has thoroughly enjoyed re-immersing herself into arts marketing, working for various organisations alongside her role with Red Ladder, including: Leeds Playhouse, The Performance Ensemble, Lawrence Batley Theatre, Fuel Theatre, Odd Doll and Valley Press.


Sasha is on maternity leave until 2023. Please direct all marketing enquiries at Carla Kingham, Marketing Manager (Maternity Cover) by emailing

Red Ladder Freelancers:


Janet Alexander, Theatre maker (Co-Vice Chair)

Janet Alexander is a theatre maker from Leeds. Initially from a youth work background, she became deaf as a young adult. Janet trained and worked with Red Ladder in the 1980’s, going on to study with founder members of the company at University of Northumbria in Newcastle. She has since worked extensively within Deaf and Disability Arts, both creatively and in management capacities. In the 1990’s she ran her own company; ‘Sign Theatre’ working to increase awareness of Deaf issues through drama and arts. She has been Arts Officer for local authorities and for National Deaf Children’s Society. Her work has received national awards.

Janet is currently a freelance theatre maker operating as ‘Deaf Creative’. She has a commission with Leeds 2023 City of Culture to develop performance work with Leeds Deaf Community and is setting up a local Deaf Arts Forum. In addition, she is working collaboratively with other artists to develop a performance piece exploring reference to Deaf and disabled people in Icelandic Poetic Edda.

Janet has a strong commitment to exploring and embedding climate change issues into her work and finding ways to be more environmentally sustainable.

I feel I have a strong connection and understanding of Red Ladder’s history and culture; I have followed the companies work over many years and through various transitions. One thing that has always stayed consistent is its commitment to producing work of the highest quality; giving a voice and platform to those who’s stories might not otherwise be told and taking work to audiences who might not otherwise see it. I feel it’s a huge honour to be part of the board of trustees for this exciting and enduring company, that I now have opportunity to contribute something towards its future”.

Cathy Brennan, Associate Professor of Psychological and Social Medicine

Originally from the other end of the M62, Cathy has made Leeds her home – drawn back to the north after a period of exile down south. By day, Cathy is an academic at the University of Leeds where her work focuses on the contribution of social and environmental factors to public mental health. When not at work she is a keen footballer (more enthusiasm than skill) and believes in the power of football as a tool for social action. Highlights include defying the FA ban on mixed gender football to win the Mondiali Antirazziti cup in 2006 and playing a solidarity match against the Palestinian womens team in their National stadium in 2014.

Red Ladder make high quality theatre with wit and heart that challenges and inspires in equal measure. The vision of Red Ladder resonates with my core values and I was excited and honoured to join the board in 2021

Twitter: @CathyBrennan13

Ryan Case (Co-Vice Chair)

I first became aware of the powerful and important work that Red Ladder does through my employment with Unite the union who have worked with the company in the past. I quickly came to recognise the significance of the work that Red Ladder produces and how this very much aligns with my own values.

It’s incredibly important that the stories that Red Ladder tells continue and that is what drove me to join the Trustees. Ensuring that future generations can access performance which challenges people’s thinking and also the very structure of society.

I believe Red Ladder has a very long future ahead of it, and it’s one I’m proud to be a part of.

Sheila Freeman,  Writer, Social Researcher and Community Connector

My work, for the last 20 years, has centred around accessibility and inclusion in community development, and more latterly, social research, often with refugee and asylum seeker communities, and/or with a focus on the black lived experience in the UK. As a member of the Inscribe writer development programme, with the world’s leading publisher of Caribbean and Black British writing, Peepal Tree Press, I was recently published in an anthology of Leeds-based writers. As well as being a Red Ladder Trustee, I have also worked in theatre research, sit on the Creative Engagement advisory committee of Leeds Playhouse, and since 2014, have also been a member of their Community Ambassador team, promoting theatre arts for all. My love of choirs has enabled me to perform in a mainstream theatre production, Leeds West Indian Carnival anniversary celebrations, as well as a black-led mini opera.

Volunteering, connecting, and giving back to communities are what inspires me. Being a trustee for Red Ladder is an important volunteer role, which I approach from the perspective of intersectionality. Being a black, working class, disabled woman, in my work with Red Ladder, I seek to positively use my layered multiple identities as the impetus to explore and use lived experience to recognise, support, encourage and promote diverse writing that – as is the Red Ladder way – provides nuanced narratives, challenges bias, and provides a dynamic platform for new, marginalised and seldom heard voices.

Fiona Gell (Co-Chair)

Fiona is the Marketing and Communications Officer at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley. She is a Librarian by qualification and has also worked in archives but over the years has moved sideways into marketing, communications and events management. Her passion is literature and she is the founder member of the Leeds Big Bookend and Northern Short Story Festival which exists to promote the Leeds literature scene in all its forms. She is a partner and founder member of Leeds Lit Fest. She has worked tirelessly and in a mainly voluntary capacity to create a platform where local writers can showcase their work alongside national and international writers, and to shout about literature in the city. She has run hundreds of events and dozens of festivals and has helped scores of writers at all stages of their careers to further their dreams and ambitions.

I have a long association with Red Ladder. It started way back in 2012 when I volunteered to help with admin in the Red Ladder office which in turn led to a great partnership that enabled the Big Bookend and Red Ladder to work together on events that linked to Red Ladder productions and the literature events that I was involved with. I was instrumental in getting the Red Ladder archive moved to Special Collections at the University of Leeds where it remains as part of their theatre archive. It’s a unique collection which tells the story of our amazing radical theatre company. I have a genuine passion for Red Ladder and the work it does. I share its philosophy of community, social change and global justiceI. I continue to support and champion the company wherever and whenever I can and I am very proud to be its Co-Chair alongside Emma McDowell.

Craig Jefferies, CEO  Albion Electrical Wholesalers

Craig joined the Board in September 2016 and is joint MD of Albion Electric Stores Limited, an electrical wholesale company based in Leeds. He graduated with a degree in Accounting and Financial Analysis from Newcastle University and over his working career has worked firstly with KPMG, then The London Stock Exchange and finally with Albion Electric.

“I’ve always been interested in the arts and one of the driving influences for moving to London after graduating was to see more theatre. I was introduced to Red Ladder through Pheonix Dance who have a storage arrangement with Albion Electric Stores Limited. I bring to the Board 30 years of financial experience along with 20 years of commercial understanding. I live with my partner in Pateley Bridge surrounded by 20 chickens, 2 Alpacas and a cat.”

Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos

Jamie currently lives in Bramley with his family. He was a player for Leeds Rhinos for 22 years, through 3 generations with over 150 different players – the most successful generation in the club’s history. As well as Red Ladder Theatre Company, he is on the board for the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Leeds 2023 Culture Trust.

“I’m Jamie Jones Buchanan, a 38-year-old ex professional rugby league player who has lived his boyhood dream, representing this city through the Leeds Rhinos for over 20 years.   I believe life is a narrative, human beings are the only animals on the planet who tell stories, stories should serve to educate, entertain and inspire.  I have always loved story telling and Red Ladder is a huge story telling voice from within the city of Leeds that uses theatre to stir conversations about social equalities and social injustice.  Whilst being a voice Red Ladder also a vehicle that allows local people fulfil their potential and express themselves through the arts.  It’s my pleasure and motivation to support Red Ladder’s Vision and mission to this end.”

Richard Lee

Whilst working out as a touring Lighting Engineer and Stage Manager I took a job as a college Theatre Technician to clear some student debts and think about what I wanted to do with my life. 23 years later I am as suprised as anyone that I still work in the same college having been inspired by opportunities the Further Education sector brings to young people and adults. Days are never dull and when I come to write my memoirs there will be chapters entiltled “dealing with the action man and yoghurt incident”, “giant beavers at Lotherton Hall”, “building a new theatre” and “teenagers during a full moon”. As Head of Department for Media, Music and Performance Production I look after 700 students and have a focus on working with the Leeds Creative organisations to provide opportunity and inspiration for all young people and to ensure long term creative careers can be built in the North of England.

Emma McDowell (Co-Chair), Audience Researcher & Arts Marketer

Currently Emma is working as a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds in the School of Performance & Cultural Industries towards a PhD, with a particular interest in liveness of the theatre experience, and the interaction between artist and audience member through performance and communication processes. Emma has also worked with both performing arts companies in arts marketing, fundraising and producing (e.g. Suitcase & Spectacles, Townsend Productions, Joss Arnott Dance, Andrea Heaton), as well as marketing/programming at Harrogate Theatre and Square Chapel Arts Centre Halifax, and for an arts research consultancy, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre.

“For me, Red Ladder represents the holy grail for many modern theatre companies; they make accessible, relevant and exciting productions that reflect and challenge modern Britain in all its diversity. I love being part of that in some small way, and the team have a very well deserved reputation for working closely with communities and artists in Leeds and beyond.”

Twitter: @emmamcdoofus

Ben Rothera, Freelance Producer

Ben is an Independent creative producer, project manager and audience development specialist with a particular interest in finding entry routes for under-represented groups into the arts and generating audiences for contemporary work. He has worked for a range of arts and cultural organisations facilitating the creation and presentation of high quality work across theatre, dance and live music. Most recently, he worked for Leeds-based producers Dep Arts supporting a range of artists with organisational strategy, fundraising and partnership development.

Anna Turzynski, Producer LEEDS 2023

After ten years working as a freelance producer in Leeds Anna has recently joined the powerhouse team at LEEDS 2023 to bring a year of culture to the city. Her expertise lies in cross-artform producing and she is passionate about bringing work to unconventional spaces. Previously working with Compass Live Art Festival and The Grief Series, Anna has always championed making arts and culture more accessible to people. She has produced work for Leeds Playhouse, Unlimited Theatre, Fragments and Riptide, as well as large-scale work for local authorities such as Light Night, Leeds and Woven Textile Festival in Kirklees.
She regularly lectures on careers in the creative industries, and mentors young female producers in Yorkshire.

“I believe Red Ladder has been making a vital contribution to Leeds for the past 50 years and I want to make sure it continues to do so for another 50.”

Lucinda Yeadon, Community Liaison Manager, CEG

Awaiting biography.

Red Ladder is always seeking new members who are interested in the future activity of the company, if you would like to express an interest please email: