Ethel is a Sheffield based short story writer and theatre facilitator originally from Zimbabwe. Her stories are inspired by Shona and Ndebele storytelling traditions and her experiences of her growing up in a township in Gweru, Zimbabwe. She has short stories published in various publications including Big Writing for a Small World (English Pen, 2012); Verse Matters, (Valley Press Anthology, 2017); Wretched Strangers (Boiler House Press 2018); Chains: Unheard Voices (Margo Collective, 2018) and in various issues of Route 57: University of Sheffield Creative Writing Journal. When she’s not writing, she relaxes by going to the theatre, going to poetry and prose readings and volunteering with organisations that support asylum seekers and refugees.
Tchiyiwe is an award-winning gender and international development professional who has held leadership roles in the human rights and arts sectors. She was born in Bradford and lived her formative years in Zambia and South Africa. She likes to write about global diaspora communities and currently hosts a television show dedicated to African diaspora social-political affairs.
Kayley is an accomplished former journalist and a senior PR professional with experience across a range of charitable, cultural and corporate organisations. She is focused on enhancing the reputation, profile and awareness of individuals and organisations in a compelling and targeted way. Kayley has worked on a variety of high profile campaigns and is passionate about highlighting the UK’s incredible cultural sector.
Julius, a consummate actor, dancer, choreographer and percussionist with over a decade of experience, is Utopia Theatre’s Associate Artist. He has just concluded a tour of Anna Hibiscus’s Song with the Utopia Theatre. Before moving to the UK, his passion and professionalism earned him great acclaim as one of the most sought-after performers in Lagos, Nigeria. Julius has been a consistent performer, playing major roles in most Bolanle Austen-Peters’ Productions at Terra Kulture.
Choreographer for ‘PUNCTUATION’ for the Goethe Institute’s Lagos Live Festival in 2016 and again in 2018 at the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, commemorating the Kigali genocide in Rwanda.
Actor in a tour of Kao and Abuja for the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Program of the European Union and British Council in Lagos on anti-corruption, the criminal justice system and sexual and gender-based violence.
Choreographer and actor in ‘Queen Moremi - The Musical Reloaded' in 2019.
Producer and director of Wole Soyinka’s Child Internationale commissioned by CHEVRON Nigeria for the MUSON Festival in 2022.
Festival coordinator for the first annual KIFT- Kininso International Festival of Theatre for Children, attracting over 2000 children across Lagos. In its 4th edition, the self-funded festival is a commitment to Nigerian children for a one-of-a-kind theatre festival in Nigeria where performances and workshops are specifically and specially created for children.
Julius has also worked with International directors and facilitated workshops in Rwanda and Germany and will be bringing this wealth of experience and energy to Utopia Theatre.
With a rich tapestry of experiences spanning various industries, Charles Aborishade stands as a beacon of innovation and effectiveness in the realm of Marketing and Communication. As the current Marketing & Communications Manager at Utopia Theatre, Charles has been instrumental in leading the organization through a transformative phase, marked by its recent election as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
Charles's expertise is deeply rooted in his ability to craft and execute comprehensive marketing communications and audience engagement strategies. His efforts are not just confined to local boundaries but extend to making a global impact, perfectly aligning with Utopia Theatre's vision of inclusivity in the creative sector.
His journey in the marketing communications sphere is marked by notable achievements and roles. Prior to joining Utopia Theatre, Charles served as a Digital Marketing Manager at Digency Services Limited, Lagos, Nigeria, where he led significant digital transformation projects and drove substantial growth in online presence and sales for various clients.
A holder of an MSc in Digital and Strategic Marketing from the University of Bradford, Charles is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®), Google Analytics Certified, and a member of esteemed institutions like the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Charles's proficiency in utilizing tools such as Hootsuite, HubSpot, SEMrush, Adobe Creative Suite, Klaviyo, WordPress, and Canva, coupled with his ability to leverage social media, SEO, SEM, and email marketing, has consistently resulted in enhanced brand visibility and customer engagement. His data-driven approach ensures that every strategy is not only creative but also results-oriented, optimizing campaigns for the best outcomes.
With a career marked by leadership, innovation, and a commitment to excellence, Charles is an exemplary figure in the field of Marketing and Communication, making him an invaluable asset to Utopia Theatre and the wider creative industry.
Our Community Outreach and Engagement Ambassador, Akinṣeye is a creative Producer and all round Filmmaker. He loves children and loves to engage in activities all around them.
He has a friendly and happy personality and is very big on culture and community which has led him to his role here at Utopia theatre where he helps to foster healthy relationships and engagements that leads to the continous growth of the Utopia Theatre community
Through her work as a practitioner and researcher with a number of agencies she has developed projects to improve the educational experience of vulnerable and socially excluded young people in South Yorkshire.
Her expertise and skills focus on the alignment of equality, inclusion and diversity agendas into sustainable knowledge development strategies, which has resulted in her presenting a number of research papers at national and international conferences.
Max Farrar is a sociologist and activist who retired in 2009 as Professor for Community Engagement at Leeds Metropolitan (now Beckett) University, UK. His life-long enthusiasm for the arts started in his teens and developed at Leeds University when he was the organiser of the Student Union’s arts festival in 1969-70.
Until the early 1990s he worked in Further and Adult Education, at the Harehills and Chapeltown Law Centre, for the Runnymede Trust, and as a freelance writer/photographer. His doctoral thesis examined the black-led social movements in Chapeltown, Leeds, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. It was published as The Struggle for ‘Community’ (Edwin Mellen, 2002).
Edited books include Islam in the West — Key issues in multiculturalism (Palgrave, 2012), Debating Multiculturalism (Dialogue Society, 2012) and Teaching Race in the Social Sciences (HEA, 2006). His latest book (with Guy Farrar and Tim Smith) is Celebrate! Fifty Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival (Jeremy Mills Publishing, 2017). He is Secretary to The David Oluwale Memorial Association, a registered charity, which is distinctive in its use of all forms of art and performance in communicating messages for inclusion, diversity and social justice.
Bookey Oshin is an accountant with over 11 years experience. She is the Deputy Chief Executive 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.
Her previous finance experience was in business, corporate and public sectors. Bookey is also Trustee of Whirlow Hall Farm and Board member of South yorkshire Housing Association, She sits on the Audit Committee of both organisations.
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.
Shamima Noor is a Marketing and Communications professional based in the North of England. She is currently the Communications Co-Ordinator at Fuel.
She's worked in arts marketing for almost five years. She previously worked as the Marketing and Communications Manager at Phoenix Dance, navigating their comms strategy and steering the proverbial ship as they grappled with the impact of COVID-19. She was, prior to that, Marketing and Communications Officer at Yorkshire Dance (April 2019 - April 2020) and as the Marketing and Communications Assistant at Leeds Playhouse (July 2017 - March 2019). She has also provided freelance marketing support for companies such as Red Ladder Theatre Company, Rifco Theatre, Bradford Producing Hub and Transform Festival.
She is a CLORE Leadership Emerging Leader (Cohort 2021), a Creative Access Alumni and Arts Marketing Association member representative. She holds BA and MA degrees in English and Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Leeds. Her strengths as a marketeer lie in campaign management, digital marketing and audience development. She is passionate about utilising digital tools and developing sophisticated digital strategies around video content to reach new audiences and increase diversity in the arts.
Kaltum Osman Rivers is mother of four lived and worked in Sheffield since 2005.
In 2018 she was elected as the first African female councillor in South Yorkshire.
She has been an activist most of her working life and has led research in health inequality, housing, education and social care. She was also commissioner for the race equality commission in Sheffield.
She graduated with a BA in Social Anthropology, MA in Education and another MA in Sociology, Kaltum is currently doing her PhD in Sociological research study at The University of Sheffield.
Oladipo Agboluaje is a playwright and creative writing tutor. He also teaches African Drama. He is a Writing Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and Treasurer of the African Theatre Association (AfTA). He recently adapted Ben Okri's novel, The Famished Road for Dramaten of Sweden. Other plays: Here's What She Said To Me, The Estate, Iya-Ile, The Christ of Coldharbour Lane, Immune and New Nigerians.
Maria trained at the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire in Malta. She graduated with a Ba (Hons) Dance Theatre from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Maria trained at the Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire in Malta. She graduated with a Ba (Hons) Dance Theatre from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Maria is a dance practitioner, choreographer and movement director.
Maria believes that movement is an instinct. Her ethos as a dance practitioner is an inclusive one and she strives to make movement accessible to all. She has worked with dancers, actors, intergenerational groups and people with physical/learning disabilities.
Maria has danced for choreographers such as Tom Dale, Kerry Nicholls, Theo Clinkard, Kristina Sommerlade, Mavin Khoo, James Wilton and Sue Goodman.
In 2009 Maria founded RedTape Dance Company. Since then her work has been shown at the Bonnie Bird Theatre, Notte Bianca Malta, BluePrint Festival, Crystal Palace Arts Festival, Resolutions! London Bridge Live Arts, Sydenham Arts Festival, Ziguzajg International Youth Festival, Sadlers Wells, The London Palladium, Her Majesty’s Theatre, The Albany Theatre, Deptford, O2 Indigo, Malta Arts Festival, Intransit Festival, The Tabernacle, Royal Festival Hall, Hampton Court Palace and Tower of London.
Maria has been the recipient of the Malta Arts Fund and Malta Cultural Export Fund. She has been a recipient of Kensington and Chelsea Arts Grant and Greenshoots fund for dance work within the North Kensington youth community, in the aftermath of the Grenfell Fire.
Maria was a Laban Movement Analysis lecturer on the London Dramatic Arts course at Fordham University. She is founder of Tip Top Dance School in North Kensington. Maria co-founded Shakespeare Moves with Zoe Waites. She is the Movement teacher at Rose Bruford College on the APT course. A guest dance practitioner with StepChange Studios and a regular dance practitioner for the Royal Academy of Dance.
Rob Hart works as a sound designer for theatre and film. He trained in Sound Design at Edinburgh University (MSc). He regularly performs experimental music and expanded cinema as a solo artist and in the collaborations Swab and The Hellfire Project. His sound design can also be heard in the recent video series for the V&A Museum ASMR at the V&A. Theatre credits include: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bermuda Festival); Holiday Selfie (Pulse Festival, The New Wolsey Theatre); Eclipse (Theatre Royal, Stratford); Rosaura (Women and War Festival, London); Iyalode of Eti (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and The Foley Explosion (The Yard Theatre).
Lee Affen is a multi-instrumentalist composer and sound designer working on an extensive catalogue of projects in theatre, dance and film. He finds inspiration in stories that need to be told and translated into impactful, challenging and accessible art.
Lee’s work includes Imagine If’s Jadek, Fallen Angels’ collaboration with Birmingham Royal Ballet The War Within, John-Rwoth Omack’s Far Gone in assoc. with Utopia Theatre, and the BBC 3 Show Amazing Humans. He collaborates regularly with Sheffield Theatres, Theatr Clwyd and The Dukes Theatre.
Juwon Ogungbe is an inspiring and well respected musician, singer and composer from London.
Placing African music at the heart of his work, Juwon also incorporates opera and classical music into his expressive range.
Juwon has composed commissioned works for London’s Southbank Centre (as part of the Africa 05 Festival) and for theatre productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, BBC Radio Drama, Greenwich and Docklands Festival and for the New York based Theatre for a New Audience, amongst many others. His theatre music directing career includes work done for the Royal Court Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Royal National Theatre.
Juwon’s recorded output includes an album – Life Force Music, two singles released in 2017 and collaborations with The London Lucumi Choir. He has toured in recent years to several film festivals in the UK, performing his own music with two African silent movies from the colonial era. In 2017 Ogungbe curated Ignatius Inspires – a season of creative work that used as a stimulus the output of Ignatius Sancho – the first Black composer to ever have his music published.
In 2018, Juwon started composing an opera – The Pied Piper of Chibok which was presented as a work in progress at Opera North and the Grimeborn Opera Festival.
King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba – Juwon’s most recent music theatre piece was premiered in 2019 and several new works of his have been publicly performed in 2020.
Ogungbe’s singing career encompasses music from several cultures, including Classical and Contemporary Art Music, African Music genres, Jazz and Popular Music.
A queer African-American woman resident in the UK since 1998, Jennifer Farmer is writer for performance, participatory theatre-maker and facilitator who centres systematically excluded narratives and collaborates extensively with communities made vulnerable, such as young people at risk of social exclusion (The Fall of Lucifer, 2008; Truth or Dare, 2012 and 2017, both for Belgrade Theatre), womxn in prison (Compact Failure, Clean Break/Arcola Theatre/national tour, 2004), refugees (Hear My Voice, Theatre Royal Stratford East), OAPs (Urban Dreams, London Bubble, 2008), young people with dyslexia (Turtle Key Arts), users of the mental healthcare system (V&A Museum) and intergenerational community groups (City Final, site-specific, 2018, Belgrade Theatre). Other work includes: Looking At the Sun (BAC Opera Season, 2001), clean (BBC Radio 3, 2003), 270° (Paines Plough, Young Vic, 2004), A Million Different People (BBC Radio 4, 2005), words, words, words (Tricycle Theatre, 2006), Bulletproof Soul (Birmingham Rep, 2007), Stutter (Hotbed Festival, 2008), These Four Streets (Birmingham Rep, 2009), Eating Our Words (Camden People’s Theatre, 2012), Waltzing Tomatoes (Ithaca Gallery, USA, 2013 and international festivals), Between Constellations (Pittsburgh Festival Opera, USA; Grimeborn Festival, Arcola Theatre, 2018), another city (will be our garden) (Toynbee Studios, 2021).
With a dedication to creating work that is socially engaged and urgent, Jennifer’s current projects include enoa, Britten Pears Arts, and Les Theatres de la Ville de Luxembourg-supported Link In My Bio, a new, interactive opera on the impact of the global rise of the Alt-Right, How Far Apart, a new play commissioned by Utopia Theatre and supported by Sheffield Theatres, the Wellcome Trust and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which examines the impact medical racism has on Black women's experience of childbirth, as well as the dream(ing) field lab, a new commission from Season of Change, Julie’s Bicycle and Artsadmin which utilises radical Black imagination and Afro-futurism movements to facilitate women and femmes of the African Diaspora in re-visioning their relationship with land and environmental inequality. Jennifer’s plays are published by Oberon/Bloomsbury, Samuel French and Josef Weinberger Plays.
Currently an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths and Central School of Speech and Drama, Jennifer has lectured at Kingston University, the University of Greenwich, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and London South Bank University, and has facilitated workshops for many of the UK’s theatre and arts organisations such as the National Theatre, Frantic Assembly, Almeida Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Royal Court. At Central, Jennifer teaches on the ethics of working with communities made vulnerable, centring under-recognised narratives, and the dangers of art-washing and white saviourism.