Creative Team & Cast

An Extraordinary team of artists and creatives from across the UK have come together to collaborate on this new show.

Splash! is directed by Billy Alwen and Jamie Beddard and has been written by the directors in collaboration with Richard Headon and Donna Williams.

Cast

Helen Cherry

Helen Cherry

Currently training as a Dance Leader with Lancashire based, ‘Dance Syndrome,’ with whom she also performed at The Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. Along the way, Helen has honed her skills with local dance and drama groups, as well as finding employment as a TV and Film extra.

When not performing, she is studying for her Level 3 British Sign Language Certificate and learning to play the violin. An unstoppable bundle of energy who is blown away by being given the opportunity to be a part of Splash.

Richard Headon
Co-Writer

Richard Headon

Richard is best known with his work with Bristol based outdoor arts specialists Desperate Men where he is Co-artistic Director.

Since 1995 he has performed, written, devised and directed numerous shows and large-scale outdoor theatre projects including Slapstick & Slaughter, The Nativity Cycle, Dancing Bear Cheese, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Rick, Dick and Vic, Bristol Loves Tides, The Wye Valley River Festival (2014-2020), Battle for the Winds (London 2012) and The Severn Project (2006-2009). Other work includes The Light Princess, Tobacco Factory, An Oak Tree with Tim Crouch, There be Monsters (Fabularium) and Sequins and Sawdust (Cirque Bijou). Richard hosts circus performances at various festivals as well as teaching at Circomedia and The National Centre for Circus Arts. All this desperateness is captured in the recent (award winning) film Washed Up.

Donna Williams
Co-Writer

Donna Williams

Donna Williams is a deaf poet working in English and British Sign Language. Working with such different languages has inspired a deep interest in translation and how her work can be made accessible to signing and non-signing audiences. She has performed at festivals around the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as in America and Brazil. Several of her poems have been published, most recently in Stairs and Whispers, an anthology of poems by deaf and disabled poets, and issue 69 of Magma magazine. Her poems cover many themes, from bilingualism to identity to her beloved cats.

Nikki Charlesworth
Puppet Design & Creation

Nikki Charlesworth

Nikki Charlesworth is a recent graduate of Theatre Design, from Nottingham Trent University where she specialised in Puppetry. Nikki first met the team at Extraordinary Bodies when she worked on the ceremonies for the CPISRA World Games held in Nottingham in 2015. Since graduating Nikki has worked as a Theatre Designer, Puppeteer and Puppet Maker.
Her assistant design credits include: the UK tour of The Who’s Tommy (New Wolsey in association with Ramps on the Moon) and the UK tour of Reasons to be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre Company).
Her design credits include: Regional tour of Maklena by Night Train Theatre Company. The Luckiest Girl Alive a self directed puppet show performed at Nottingham Puppet Festival, What Happened To You? a self directed, semi autobiographical puppet show, with support from Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.
Rebecca Solomon

Rebecca Solomon

Rebecca is a powerhouse aerialist and tutor, specialising in rope, straps and redefining storytelling standards in the air. After beginning her circus career at Greentop circus in Sheffield, she moved her training to Gravity in London, which lead to her standout performances as part of “Hive City Legacy” (part of the Australian Brief factory collective), “The Brownie Club”, “Who do they think they are?” and “Fierce Sisters”.

Rebecca’s focus on identity over the last year has shaped much of her work on what it means to be a mixed race woman, not only in the modern age but also as part of her vintage showgirl dance roots. Her career has taken her all over the world, with her most recent residency in Costa Rica focusing on the impact of social circus.

Milton Lopes

Milton Lopes

Milton Lopes, born in Cape Verde and grew up in Portugal. As an aerialist he performed in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony and in Extraordinary Bodies’s first show Weighting. He played the lead role Macheath in Bertolt Brecht’sThe Threepenny Opera, a co-production by Graeae, New Wolsey Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep.

In 2016 Milton portrayed John “The Savage” in Brave New World for BBC Radio 4, directed by David Hunter. He worked as an Aerialist in Calling Tree and participated in the smash hit Portuguese Telenovela A Unica Mulher. Last year he was The Australian Aboriginal in Our Country’s Good, a Ramps On The Moon Production and performed in The Three Musketeers and Death Of A Salesman.

As well as performing in Extraordinary Bodie’s latest production Splash!, Milton is currently developing his own show, Elephant, with a cast of D/deaf and disabled performers, using aerial circus, theatre and live music.

Creative Team

Jamie Beddard
Co-Artistic Director & Co-Writer

Jamie Beddard

Jamie joined Diverse city as Co-Artistic Director and is part of the Creative Team behind Extraordinary Bodies. Jamie has Cerebral Palsy and having grown up in a time when opportunities for disabled people in the arts were limited, Jamie was lucky to be offered an acting role by the BBC that kicked off his professional career. Since then Jamie has taken the arts world by storm.

In 2011 he left his role as Diversity Officer for the Arts Council to concentrate on developing his freelance portfolio. In 2012 he directed Breathe for the opening ceremony celebrating the Olympic Sailing, and in 2013 he became a Clore Fellow. Jamie completed a six-month run at The National Theatre in Threepenny Opera in 2017 and played the Leader in the return of Bristol Old Vic’s production of Messiah in 2018.

Billy Alwen
Co-Artistic Director & Co-Writer

Billy Alwen

Billy Alwen is co-founder and Artistic Director of Cirque Bijou, a leader in the field of innovative outdoor arts, circus and street theatre. After a career in politics and public relations, Billy started his circus life as an aerialist, performing all over the world and forming Cirque Bijou in 1999 with Julian Bracey. Since then Cirque Bijou have made thousands of shows across the globe for audiences of 50 to 50,000.

In 2012 they made Battle for the Winds to launch the London 2012 Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth, which brought Cirque Bijou into partnership with Diverse City for the first time. A year later, the first Extraordinary Bodies show, Weighting, was made with an exceptional company of disabled and non-disabled artists. Since then Extraordinary Bodies has grown and developed into a national and international circus project, working with the National Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, and Circus Oz in Melbourne.

Richard Headon
Co-Writer

Richard Headon

Richard is best known with his work with Bristol based outdoor arts specialists Desperate Men where he is Co-artistic Director.

Since 1995 he has performed, written, devised and directed numerous shows and large-scale outdoor theatre projects including Slapstick & Slaughter, The Nativity Cycle, Dancing Bear Cheese, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Rick, Dick and Vic, Bristol Loves Tides, The Wye Valley River Festival (2014-2020), Battle for the Winds (London 2012) and The Severn Project (2006-2009). Other work includes The Light Princess, Tobacco Factory, An Oak Tree with Tim Crouch, There be Monsters (Fabularium) and Sequins and Sawdust (Cirque Bijou). Richard hosts circus performances at various festivals as well as teaching at Circomedia and The National Centre for Circus Arts. All this desperateness is captured in the recent (award winning) film Washed Up.

Donna Williams
Co-Writer

Donna Williams

Donna Williams is a deaf poet working in English and British Sign Language. Working with such different languages has inspired a deep interest in translation and how her work can be made accessible to signing and non-signing audiences. She has performed at festivals around the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as in America and Brazil. Several of her poems have been published, most recently in Stairs and Whispers, an anthology of poems by deaf and disabled poets, and issue 69 of Magma magazine. Her poems cover many themes, from bilingualism to identity to her beloved cats.

Headshot of Will Datson, a white man with dark stubble facial hair, wearing a 'circus for every body' tshirt and a cap.
Will Datson
Set Designer

Will Datson

Will Datson has been designing & making sets and equipment for circus & theatre for over a decade, as well as creating large-scale artwork in the public realm.

Will has created numerous performance structures for Cirque Bijou including Vera, a human powered travelling machine for Battle for the Winds, celebrating the 2012 Olympic sailing events in Weymouth. He also created the rotating centrepiece known as ‘The Bridge’ for the first Extraordinary Bodies show Weighting, and has designed and built the transformative set known as ‘Rose’ for the latest show What Am I Worth?.

Headshot of Will Datson, a white man with dark stubble facial hair, wearing a 'circus for every body' tshirt and a cap.
Photograph of Georgina, laughing to camera. She's a white woman, with short dark hair. She's sat next to a small scruffy light haired dog.
Georgina Shire
Prop Maker & Set Design

Georgina Shire

Georgina is a Fabrication Consultant who designs and builds public installations and props for performance, encouraging play and verbal questioning. She has worked with the BBC, Channel 4, We The Curious, The National Trust, The Royal Society, The Arnolifini, Bristol Museum, street theatre companies and higher education institutes. Georgina is interested in both traditional and cutting edge techniques for making. She held the position of Visiting Researcher for 3D printing at Bristol University, as part of a collaboration with Sabrina Shirazi on Opus and the bone-conducting lollipop project.
Georgina first worked with Cirque Bijou assisting Will Datson on ‘Vera’ the human powered vehicle for the 2012 Olympics Battle of the Winds in Weymouth.
Photograph of Georgina, laughing to camera. She's a white woman, with short dark hair. She's sat next to a small scruffy light haired dog.
Headshot of Laura Guthrie, smiling to camera (black and white image)
Laura Guthrie
Costume & Set Designer

Laura Guthrie

Since gaining a BA Hons at Nottingham Trent University in Theatre Design, Laura has worked as an artist facilitating arts workshops, performed nationally in an integrated dance company and trained staff and volunteers in arts facilitation and Disability Equality. Her career has included Development Officer, Project Manager, and Artistic Director of three voluntary arts organisations.

Laura is a Senior Associate Artist at Bamboozle Theatre and Family Development Coordinator, creating shows and multi- sensory experiences for families with learning disabled children. She co-founded Meander Theatre in 2011 to create professional theatre experiences for learning disabled creative. Since 2016 Laura has been an Agent for Change at Nottingham Playhouse as part of the national Ramps On The Moon project.

Headshot of Laura Guthrie, smiling to camera (black and white image)
Ellie Stephens, smiling to camera - a young white girl, with long shoulder length hair - one side yellow blonde and the other side dyed bright pink. Ellie smiles. Her septum nose piercing is just visible.
Ellie Stephens
Costume Maker

Ellie Stephens

Ellie is a freelance costume maker with a background in dressmaking and alterations. She is currently studying for a BA Hons in Costume Design and Making at Nottingham Trent University. Ellie’s academic work is focused on inclusion within theatrical spaces, while her making displays a special interest in extravagant costumes for theatre. Previously, she has assisted the wardrobe department at the Royal Theatre Nottingham during their pantomimes, helping create and organise the costumes. Ellie also has experience in carnival and puppetry through volunteering with City Arts for the Nottingham Carnival Parade.

Ellie Stephens, smiling to camera - a young white girl, with long shoulder length hair - one side yellow blonde and the other side dyed bright pink. Ellie smiles. Her septum nose piercing is just visible.
Headshot of Shirley Pegna
Shirley Pegna
Composer

Shirley Pegna

With a practice that encompasses working with sound, music and composition particularly with performance, Shirley Pegna’s work engages an audience through sound and invites them to perceive sonic experiences in different ways. This past year saw her collaboration with film maker Vicky Smith, Primal and Small Things, shown at Edinburgh Film Festival and Flatpack Festival – Birmingham, amongst others, her piece Listening to Stars by Starlight at Lakes Alive – Kendal, and a collaboration with composer Paul Whitty for exhibition at Oxford Brookes University – Get Rid.

Shirley also has been working on an interdisciplinary project concerned with cultural and historical responses to earthquakes, called The Unsettled Planet in Bristol University and was also awarded a place on the residency thearcticcircle.org and travelled to the Arctic – Svalbard Archipelago to research her sound work aboard a three masted Barkentine sailing ship.

Headshot of Shirley Pegna
Nikki Charlesworth
Puppet Design & Creation

Nikki Charlesworth

Nikki Charlesworth is a recent graduate of Theatre Design, from Nottingham Trent University where she specialised in Puppetry. Nikki first met the team at Extraordinary Bodies when she worked on the ceremonies for the CPISRA World Games held in Nottingham in 2015. Since graduating Nikki has worked as a Theatre Designer, Puppeteer and Puppet Maker.
Her assistant design credits include: the UK tour of The Who’s Tommy (New Wolsey in association with Ramps on the Moon) and the UK tour of Reasons to be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre Company).
Her design credits include: Regional tour of Maklena by Night Train Theatre Company. The Luckiest Girl Alive a self directed puppet show performed at Nottingham Puppet Festival, What Happened To You? a self directed, semi autobiographical puppet show, with support from Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.