Meet The Team
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.
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.
Creative Producer & Programmer (Part Time)
Alice joined Red Ladder in 2019. She started life as a producer and theatremaker with Slung Low in 2016, later founding feminist theatre company Unsung Collective and co-running Front Room Productions for a number of years. Alice does all sorts at Red Ladder, but what she enjoys most is Artist Development and the Programming of shows and activity on the Red Ladder Local Circuit. She can usually be identified in the wild by her very loud trousers.
Red Ladder Freelancers:
- Ruth Saxton – Marketing Manager – email@example.com
- Tom Blackband – Technical Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rob Shaw – Fundraiser – email@example.com
- Chris O’Connor – Social Media Support – firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Alexander, Theatre maker (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”.
Dick Bonham, Co-Director of Trouble at Mill Events,
Dick is a Producer, Programmer and Theatre Director based in Leeds. He is currently Co-Director of Trouble at Mill Events, who run The Old Woollen in Farsley, West Leeds. Its eclectic programme, the culmination of over a decade of work in the area, includes comedy, theatre, music, spoken word and literature. Along with Gloria Lindh he was also a founder member of touring theatre producers LittleMighty, who have toured work nationally and internationally with award-winning artists and companies such as Unfolding Theatre, Fidget Theatre, Silent Uproar, and Testament. For many years LittleMighty shared an office with Red Ladder.
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”
Fiona Gell (Co-Chair)
Fiona is the Marketing and Communications Director 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.”
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.”
Beccy Owen, Musical director & Sound designer
Beccy is a a self-taught musician, composer, singer, songwriter, performer, producer, musical director and sound designer with over twenty years’ experience. She is also queer, neuro-divergent and disabled. These are facets of Beccy’s identity that are interwoven throughout her work. Beccy has established herself as a cherished part of the North’s cultural fabric; has performed at the UK’s most renowned venues, festivals and live art programmes; and has had her music featured across BBC Radio and television since 2002. She has worked with Red Ladder as a musical director since Promised Land in 2012, and is delighted to have joined the board of trustees in Winter 2022.
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.”
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: email@example.com