Our team

Founder and Artistic Director – Moji Kareem

moji

Moji Kareem is an award-winning theatre director and workshop facilitator of Nigerian descent. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre Company. She has a First Class Honours degree in Theatre/ Directing from York St John University, UK. Moji was the recipient of the York Theatre Royal Graduate Prize for Directors.

She began her directing career at York Theatre Royal. She is passionate about the growth and development of ethnic minorities in the theatre industry. Moji Kareem’s directing includes: Forest Dreaming (Geraldine Connor Foundation- Outdoor performances Victoria Gate, Leeds Market and West Yorkshire Playhouse), Iyalode of Eti (Arcola Theatre, Rich Mix, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Sheffield Theatre, Cast) House of Corrections (Riverside Studios); London Tales (LOST Theatre, Rich Mix, CLF Art Café); The Shepherd’s Chameleon (CLF Art Café); Wake Me When It’s Time (York Theatre Royal); The Maids (York Theatre, Studio York); This is Our Chance (Cultural Centre, Calabar, Nigeria).

Moji is a trustee at Sheffield Theatre Trust.

Producer – Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson is an independent arts producer and administrator based in the North of the UK. She is interested in being a part of telling stories and also teaches Cultural Theory, an MSc module, at the University of Sheffield Management School

Consultant Producer – Isobel Hawson

Isobel Hawson is a freelance theatre producer, consultant and Director of On Tour Ltd., a national and international arts consultancy. She has worked in arts funding, young people’s theatre, participatory arts, touring, organisational development, project management and strategic planning; has worked in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and South Africa. She has set up bursaries, international exchanges, provides mentoring support and advises companies on their creative, infrastructural and touring developments.

As a senior officer at Arts Council England she led on the strategic and policy development of cultural diversity and theatre, young people’s theatre and the DCMS funded national programme, developing young people’s participatory theatre practice.

She continues to work with a number of diverse companies, delivering a variety of projects.

In 2016, Isobel produced Dervish’s acclaimed production THE CROWS PLUCKED YOUR SINEWS (nomination Alfred Fagon Award 2016), written by Hassan Mahamdallie. In 2015, Isobel managed the national tour of INSIDE OUT OF MIND (ACE Strategic Touring), collaboration between Meeting Ground Theatre Company, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham. (Finalist National Lottery Awards 2015 (Best Arts Award).
Isobel is Producer with fingersmiths, a Deaf-led national touring theatre company, engaging with Deaf/disabled audiences with the integration of BSL/ English presented equally on stage. She is Strategic Associate at 20 Stories High, whose award winning professional and participatory work with and for young people, tours regionally and nationally. Isobel is also on the Board of Quarantine, Manchester.

Administrator – Ayo Oyebade

Ayo Oyebade is an award winning Accountant (Ambassador Award at Best of Nigeria 2011 Awards). He specialises in the entertainment industry, with over 25 years experience in accounting and Finance.

Marketing and Production Assistant – Shazia Bibi

 

Shazia is an actor, dancer, creative facilitator, and writer from Bradford. She graduated from University of Huddersfield in English Literature and Drama in 2016. For more information on Shazia, it can be found on her website: www.shaziabibi.com

 

Max Farrar – Chair of the Board of Trustees

Max became a cultural sociologist at Leeds Met University in the mid-1990s. He took voluntary redundancy from Leeds Met in 2010, ending his career there as Professor for Community Engagement.  Currently he is an Emeritus Professor, freelance consultant, volunteer, holiday-maker and active grand-dad.

As a volunteer, he is secretary to the Board of the David Oluwale Memorial Association charity in Leeds, known as RememberOluwale. He is also on the Board of Together for Peace, based in Leeds, and UK Friends of Abrahams Path, based in the UK but with international links. I’m on the committee for the discussion group (again in Leeds) called Taking Soundings. I helped set up and continue to support the hub site LeedsforChange.

Anamaria Wills –  Trustee

Anamaria is an award-winning practitioner with over 30 years’ experience working in the creative sector including at the National Theatre, the Old Vic and the Arts Council. She specialises in creative entrepreneurship, collaboration, innovation, organisational development, strategic planning, export and marketing.

Anamaria founded CIDA in January 2000 and has since supported the development of hundreds of UK based, highly successful creative enterprises ranging from Northern Broadsides (Independent Theatre Company)in 2000 to ADAD (the London based Association of Dancers from the African Diaspora) in 2011.

She also won the Martini TMA National Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatrical Life, for “daring artistic innovation, internationally as well as in the community and its region; for providing a dance theatre for Britain; and for setting an example in the management of theatre”

Anamaria is also the founding Chair of Skillscene, the national body for the live arts; a member of the UK Government’s Task Group for Skills and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries, and was on the Project Team for the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CI KTN) for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR). She is currently leading on a programme to help post doctoral researchers in the Arts and Humanities faculty at University of Leeds increase the impact of their research, and is Advisor on two other Research Council projects, at Kent and Sheffield Universities respectively.

Internationally, she is currently working with transnational partnerships aimed at strengthening creative entrepreneurship and innovation in the creative economy in Europe, and led on CIDA’s major creative sector skills’ development programme for the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, described by them as a ‘world benchmark for the creative sector’. She has worked with the British Council for more than eleven years, partnering and supporting their work with creative entrepreneurs in Colombia, India, Albania, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Most recently, she has helped to devise and deliver their Creative Enterprise programme across Sub Saharan Africa, working in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.

Patricia Cumper – Trustee

Patricia Cumper is a playwright and artistic producer who has written for theatre and radio for more than twenty years. She was the former Artistic Director and CEO of Talawa, the UK’s largest Black British Theatre Company. She has also won awards for her writing for radio. Her passion is bringing diverse stories and artists from the margins to the mainstream. She was recently awarded an MBE for her services to Black British theatre.

Bookey Oshin – Trustee

Bookey Oshin is an accountant and the Finance & Resources Director at Sheffield Theatres, one of the country’s leading theatres, Sheffield Theatres is home to the world-famous Crucible, the W R G Sprague built Lyceum, and the multi-format Studio.

Akin Odedina – Trustee

Akin Odedina is a Transformation Strategist and Visionary, passionate about organisational transformation from both its strategic definition and also its delivery. He has an in-depth experience in delivering complex organisational transformation projects including Regulatory Data Compliance, mobile strategy and Digital initiatives within various industries and sectors.

As a Creative Strategic thinker, he has implemented organisational change and driven transformation within new and established organisations. Highly proficient at successfully implementing new processes and systems to deliver key projects which covers a range of initiatives.

OUR PATRONS

Counsellor Gbola ADELEKE, Dip IM, F.R.I. Ph. A. DOM

Dacorum Borough Council Representative and member of the European Projects Committee.

As a qualified Marketing and Public Relations professional, worked in the Civil service, the Computer Industry and the Automotive Sector.  Joined a London based multinational Property and Investment Group as Managing Director and Group Secretary. Became Regional Director with responsibility for the Group operations in Europe, East, Central and Southern Africa.

Gerry Godley – Principal Leeds College of Music

Gerry is a saxophonist and has worked both as a freelance musician as well as a teacher. With strong entrepreneurial skills, he has built and delivered a programme of educational provision for emerging practitioners, and has served as Secretary General of the European Jazz Network.

Debo Oluwatuminu – Associate Artist

Debo is a poet, writer, director, facilitator and collaborator, whose plays have been performed around the world, from the Arcola and Soho Theatre, to Israel including in 2007 alongside Conflict Zone Arts Asylum’s Artistic Director, Michael Ronen, a collaboration with writers from Palestine, Pakistan, Kosovo and Israel’s renowned Joshua Sobol, supported by the Jerwood Foundation. The resulting production Closing Time, featured at Soho Theatre, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2007. More recently, Debo was the Head Writer, Script Editor and Creative Consultant on Desperate Housewives Africa, writing eight of the episodes for EbonyLife TV adapted from the popular ABC/Disney series. He has three further series in development in Nigeria and his first feature film in pre-production. He is associated with the Institute of the Imagination, Theatre and the Arts (IITA), and the African Theatre Association (AfTA), based at Goldsmiths College, London.

Emma Williams – Associate Artist

Trained at Canterbury College of Art – Foundation Degree and Wimbledon School of Art – BA (Hons) Theatre Design .

Most recent work includes “You Forgot The Mince “ Imagine If , Derby Theatre and touring; “Iyalode of Eti”, Utopia, WYP,Sheffield Crucible, DerbyTheatre; “One Among Millions”, RJC Youth Dance,Leeds University;”Tale to Tell”,Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah,Square Chapel and touring;”HD100” Chol, Laurence Batley Theatre;”Brief Encounters@Bradford Interchange” Freedom Studios;”Of Mice and Men”,Mind the Gap.

Design credits for the West Yorkshire Playhouse include “Refugee Boy” ; “Immune”;”Runaway Diamonds”;”The Yellow Doctress”;”Two Tracks and Text Me”;Scuffer”;”Sunbeam Terrace”;”Coming Around Again”; “You The Player”: “The Dutiful Daughter”;”Huddersfield”;”Crap Dad”;”The Elves and the Shoemakers”; “Pinocchio”; “The Magic Paintbrush”;”Broken Angel”and she is currently designing “Queen of Chapeltown “ for the WYP Autumn season.

Other theatre and opera designs include “Somebody’s Son” Hidden Gems, Laurence Batley Theatre;”The Shoe” Polka Theatre;”Strawberries in January” Traverse Theatre;”Admeto”; “Partenope”; “Alceste” Cambridge Handel Opera;”Elektra”, Guildhall Studio;”Small Objects of Desire” Soho Poly Theatre”:”The Swing Left”, Unlimited;”Barking”;”Grass”;”Stuck””Unmade Beds”;”The PianoMan”;”The Raft of the Medusa” ; “Antigone” and many more for Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah and others.

Emma works for Tick Tock Unlock, designing the sets for fantasy escape rooms and also works as a teacher and workshop leader, mentoring young people on apprenticeships and helping them find work in the creative and cultural industries.

Rob Hart -Associate Artist

Rob Hart trained in Film at the University of Kent and Sound Design at Edinburgh University.  He works as a sound designer and composer for theatre, film and interactive environments.

His work for theatre includes The Boy Who Cried (The Hope), ‘Palimpsest one’ (The Gatehouse), ‘Dead Funny’ (The Old Red Lion), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts), Holiday Selfie (Pulse Festival) and Enemies (Royal Central School).

Working in collaboration with the company ‘Featherweight’, he developed sound and music for an adaptation of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, which was all relayed to the audience via headphones during the performance.  With the same company, he contributed the soundtrack for an adaptation of the children’s picture book ‘The Red Tree’ by Shaun Tan which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013.

His first film sound work was for the documentary short ‘The Inner Shape’ (Joanna Wagner), which won the factual category at the Bafta Scotland New Talent Awards in 2009.  Subsequent film work includes ‘Towards a Militant Conceptualism’ (Seemab Gul), ‘A Tale’ (Katrin Thomas) and ‘Carp’ (Fritz Poehler).

For the digital artist Evan Boehm he created an interactive soundtrack for the installation ‘Looking At A Horse’ presented at the Digital Brighton festival.

His live improvisations incorporate homemade electronics, amplified textures, feedback loops and surreal personal monologues. Meanwhile, loops of Super-8 film are distorted and degraded in real-time to create striking and unexpected images.

Zodwa Nyoni- Associate Artist

Zodwa is a playwright and poet. She won the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme in 2014 and was made Writer-in-Residence at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Her credits include: Black Bodies (2016, Royal Exchange), Nine Lives (2015, Leeds Studio/WYP),  Boi Boi is Dead (2015,WYP, Tiata Fahodzi & Watford Palace Theatre) and  Love Again (2016, BBC Radio 3 )

She was a finalist for the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Barnaby Booth- Associate Artist

 Barnaby is a choreographer and lighting designer. A graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD), his work this year won him multiple prizes at the Stuttgart International Solo Festival, and at the Gdanski festival tanca in Poland, and continues to be performed across Europe. He has had roles acting as choreographic assistant to Mala Kline and Eleanor Valerie Lachky, and as movement director for Headlock Theatre Company. He has directed music videos and performances (Fwar), and has been commissioned to create work on youth companies, undergraduate companies (Third Row Dance – University of Roehampton) and Postgraduate companies (Bodhi Project – SEAD). His lighting credits include work for DeNada Dance Theatre, Northern Ballet,Unholy Mess Theatre Company, Feet Off the Ground Dance, Utopia Theatre Company and dance artists Sita Ostheimer, Ieva Kuniskis, Tora Hed, Mala Kline and Lewys Holt. Combining his skills in lighting design and dynamic movement composition, Barnaby creates theatrical worlds with which he can explore themes of human social interaction, personality and psychology, celebrating the miraculous power of imagination and storytelling in an unorthodox form.