The Company

David Bower

 David Bower Artistic Director/Actor. He is a Welsh/English performer studied Theatre of the Deaf at Bulmershe College of Further Education. He joined the Basic Theatre Company, played ‘Gary’ in the award-winning production, winning a fringe 1st for his performance. He studied the newly created art form Signdance as an apprentice performer at Common Ground Sign Dance Theatre from 1989. He tours extensively, performing at major street theatre festivals and theatre festivals worldwide. His films have been screened across the globe at festivals and events and the latest 'Rapid Intervention' was shown at Cannes Film Festival. Radio work includes Quasimodo, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ BBC Radio 4, ‘Shall I say a Kiss,’ BBC Radio 4, ‘Dragonfly,’ BBC Radio 4 and ‘A Small Piece of Silence’ and in July 2013, he recorded the radio version of Bad Elvis with the BBC and plays the lead in the stage production. He is an associate artist at the BBC.

Isolte Avila

 Isolte was born in Cuba and trained with the Cuban ballet and members of the Alvyn Ailey Dance Company. She has a degree in dance from California Institute of the Arts. She is the founder of the art form 'Signdance Theatre' and original pioneer of signdance™ created in 1987.

 Isolte has developed the movement for all of the company's pioneering and award-winning performances. In 2001 Isolte formed Signdance Collective with Welsh actor David Bower. She has worked most notably with choreographers Ismael Ivo, Ornella D'Agostino, Lloyd Newson, Donald McKayle, Gus Solomon and recently with Kate Lawrence. Isolte is an international performer, collaborator and movement director at the Signdance Collective.

 She has recently collaborated on several productions; Pop-Up Theatrics "Broken City Wall Street, New York" as the dance director, "Alone In The Crowd" with Ana Monro in Slovenia and with FormidAbility an Opera on Hotspur and Pierrot Lunaire, London/ New Zealand.

 Throughout 2018 and 2019 Isolte has been touring "Carthage/Cartagena" by Caridad Svich where she developed the movement. "The Turtle Trials" supported by The Arts Council Of Wales and directed by Barbara Bulatovic.
"In Between Spaces" directed by Ozan Gokmen, Bornova Municipal Theatre and in collaboration with 73 Degree Films, Wrexham in North Wales, LMM Productions, USA and Transmitter Performance from Graz, Austria.


 

Angelina Schwammerlin (Associate Director)

  Angelina Schwammerlin is a contemporary musician based in Graz in Austria. Lila is a sound artist and creates acoustic patterns and soundscapes using live, recorded, natural and digital elements. In 2006, Angelina finished her scientific work "Music as Expression" (Ways of Communication). Lila's band "Henry H" first album was released in 2013. She trained in immersive theatre with Ana Munro in Slovenia and performed in "Alone in the Crowd".                                                                                
 In 2015 she founded the umbrella organisation Transmitter Performance, which produces contemporary culture projects. Angelina has been working with the Signdance Collective since 2012. She composed the soundtrack for "Carthage/Cartagena" and is training with the company exploring methods of working as a musician within a dance-theatre process. The current project "In Between Spaces" is an interdisciplinary live performance that is emotional in both form and lyric.                                    
 She says "I love developing work that engages different cultures and art professionals and to have the opportunity to write music and music concepts, especially for the Signdance Collective with their accessible way of creating contemporary live performance.
 
 

 

Lionel M. Macauley (Sunrise; 1992 Sunset; 2020) RIP

 Lionel M. Macauley is 27 years old and was born and raised in Franklin, NJ (Somerset County) by parents who migrated to the United States from Sierra Leone/West Africa.

 His career in entertainment started back in high school when he was a member of the very popular New Jersey dance team, Team Franklin. Heʼs been acting for 11 years now and heʼs done various projects in and out the Tri-State area. Lionel's career has also afforded him the opportunity to travel Europe with Signdance Collective International performing before audiences in places like Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey, and London.

 Lionel has been performing spoken word poetry since August of 2015 performing in major events at Rutgers University as well as featuring in one of their open mic collectives called Verbal Mayhem. He is currently working on a spoken word EP released in June 2019.

 Lionel is honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Signdance Collective once again and is very humbled to have his pieces utilised in the company's projects.

Ashley Antonia Lopez

Ashley is a New York City based Afro-Latina and graduated from Pace University with her BA in Devise Acting. Through her acting program, Ashley had the opportunity to perform in the Sibiu Theatre Festival. She also performed in an original piece titled, The Female Role Model Project, and performed in an immersive play called, An Immersive Theatrical Journey to Fight Human Trafficking. Recently, she has collaborated with her best friend to create a film called “Stages of Love” in which she produced and acted in it.
www.envisionartistcompany.org

Peter Osita

Peter Ositadinma is a Nigerian(Biafran), based in Sardinia. He's an actor, singer and dancer. He also works as an entrepreneur and is focusing on web development and graphic design. Peter is currently reading computer engineering at the University of Cagliari. When he was very young there was tragic conflict where his parents were killed by an Islamic terrorist sect. After this, Ositadinma lived with his Grandmother in a village called Nenwe in Aninri Local Government Area, Enugu State where he was able to rebuild his life. He recorded his first song when he was just twelve and was well known as 'Natty O', the song was played regularly on a mid morning show by DJ Aka on Radio Coal City FM Enugu. He then joined the film industry with "Omenigbo" where he worked as an actor and as a collaborative composer/vocalist producing cinematic scores. Later he relocated to Italy and joined Carovana SMI and L'Aquilone di Viviana Compagnia Teatrale di Cagliari for several years before starting at Signdance Collective International. We are very excited to have him on board.

Rob Corcoran

  Rob is a filmmaker and creative producer from Wrexham, North Wales. He is the founder of production company 73 Degree Films and has produced numerous film, arts and community projects. He is currently a member of the BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew.
In 2017 Rob founded the non-profit arm of 73 and has also been recognised for his social entrepreneurship, in particular for projects focussed on helping people from North Wales enter the film industry. He is an UnLtd Award Winner and Social Business Wales Awards nominee.
Rob has worked with SignDance Collective since 2018, collaborating on shows including 'The Turtle Trials' and 'In Between Spaces' which have been developed and showcased internationally, including in Slovenia, Austria, Turkey, USA and Mexico.
Rob is a BAFTA Cymru member and producer of the FOCUS Wales Film Festival, supported by Ffilm Cymru.

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Artistic Collaborators

Bianca Braswell

Bianca is a Cuban-American poet and writer currently enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she is studying English and Film studies. She remains immersed in the literary community on campus and is active within the English Learning Community and English Honors Society. She currently works as a communication consultant, facilitating the writing of other students as a peer mentor. She has previously been published in Stark poetry journal and is currently working on her first poetry collection.

Zoe Partington

 Co/Director of Dis/Ordinary Architecture works predominately in architecture and design as a creative influencer, consultant and trainer for the cultural sector, as well as a researcher, auditor and creative equality trainer for museums and galleries to develop their skills and experience for meeting the needs of disabled visitors. She believes that in today's changing culture that our environment, both virtual and physical, would be more inspiring by placing disabled artists as creative professionals at the centre. Zoe is a practising artist who uses her sight loss to inform her approach. She uses her installations to develop viscerally-powerful audio-visual and tactile representations of disabled people’s journeys and experiences of moving through spaces using digital engagement. Zoe holds a Media and Design Degree BA (Hons) University of Portsmouth and a PGDip in Art, Design and Architecture. PGDip In Business management. Zoe has worked with Arts Council England, Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA, Shape London, RCMG and the British Council on International programmes. Zoe has since 2013 been working in Brazil to develop disability arts equality frameworks for Brazil, leading up to the 2016 Cultural Olympiad and beyond.
In preparation for Japan and the 2020 Cultural
Olympiad, she has delivered training in Asia and is continuing to build partners in Armenia and Azerbaijan with Shape arts and Barbara Lisicki. She went on an AIDF Award to Australia and Tasmania as part of connecting with blind artists and makers around the world. She won a CABE bursary to research wayfinding in Japan, Denmark and the UK and wrote a paper called 'Naked Space’ amongst others. She regularly speaks and presents at events across the globe.
 Zoe is Co/Director with Dr.Jos Boys at Dis/Ordinary Architecture and is working on an inclusive cultural shift with the Bartlett School of Architecture. Zoe has a huge specialism in a broad range of creative approaches and in
ensuring that disabled people are included and part of everything she explores and engages. Zoe believes to include has the power to bring people together and offer unique insights into thinking differently from the ‘norm’ or traditional. Contemporary culture is in Zoë’s perspective always shifting and we have to embrace change as a positive force,

Viviana F. Molinares

Viviana was born in Cuba but moved to the United States as an infant, spending her formative years in Nebraska and Virginia, the latter which was to greatly influence her life, personality and art. She graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree later taking numerous graduate courses at Florida International University and at Barry University, also in Miami.

Immediately after graduation, Viviana began working as a set/graphic designer for WLTV23, a local Spanish television station. Within a few months she was promoted to assistant art director to the National network (now known as Univision). Here she worked as a set designer locally and abroad as needed.

After a few years, Viviana had the unique opportunity to design sets for Spanish telenovelas (soap operas). In fact, she was the only person in the State of Florida with this experience. This entailed a complicated collaboration between producers, directors, writers, builders—both in studio and on location—to create realistic settings for the stories to take place. As Creative Director, Viviana designed the sets, drew the floor plans (taking into consideration camera angles and director’s needs), overseeing the building and installations, negotiating trades for props, decorating, overseeing wardrobe and coordinating with lighting and camera.

After 18 years of working in television there was a career change. This came in the form of teaching art to Florida Native Americans. It was a very special time in Viviana’s life as these wonderful People accepted her into their lives. This permitted Viviana to pursue her own art.

She was selected by Ford to do a one-woman exhibition in the prestigious Wynwood Art District; created a tabletop set for a Disney Halloween commercial; designed sets for Office Depot, Imagos, Sabor a Mexico, Ford, Homenage a Lucho Gatica, Cheyenne. Was a featured artist in a Big Brothers Big Sisters “Under Improvement” fund raiser as well as in His House galas.

Viviana continues to paint and create, for commissions or sometimes for pleasure, in her studio in Miami, Florida USA.

Soobie Whitfield

Soobie Whitfield graduated from Trinity/Laban in 1985 with a BA(Hons) in Dance Theatre from Laban. Having spent a few years touring as a founder member of Insight Physical Theatre company, she went on to post- graduate training as a teacher and has enjoyed many successful years in education, as a Performing Arts teacher, director, choreographer, and Head of Department in Buckinghamshire schools and community groups. She is now in the final stages of an MA Applied Theatre at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London during which she has undertaken placements with Signdance Collective, Theatre Centre and Theatre 503, Imperial College Hammersmith Hospital, Birmingham Hippodrome and Women in Theatre. These placements have mainly focussed on planning, delivering, and evaluating projects to specific under-represented or marginalised communities. Her current freelance work focuses on community, sustainable environment, education, and place. She is currently working with Signdance Collective as a local community co-ordinator on their ACE funded TIME project. She is a member of Culture Declares Emergency, Equity and The Climate Coalition and part of a successful bid for the Being Human Festival 2020.

David Omni

David D Omni was raised in the Alamar district, east of Havana, which according to David D, is a “young city, formed in the 1970’s, as a project.” David D joined Omni Zona Franca shortly after leaving school, feeling at home in a space where according to the artist “I could express my opinions, what I said was important.” Important indeed, as some of Omni Zona’s recordings, including Protesto or Protest, has become a rallying call for a growing pro-democracy, human rights movement on the Communist island nation. His music – which pounds with rap lyrics, but where the cadence of reggae, the energy of rock or techno music, the magic of new age and eastern music can also be felt, with even a touch of African rhythm or even reggaetón suddenly emerging – is contagious and highly enjoyable at the same time that it invites reflection.  Nonetheless it has provoked skepticism from the more orthodox who refuse to accept it as Hip Hop. Nonetheless, David defends his right to transcend all limits. He terms his innovation “Free Hop".

Ozan Gökmen

Ozan Gokmen is a director and actor, he is based at the Bornova Municipal Theatre in Izmir in Turkey. He has been working with SDC since 2003 on projects such as Caliban and Miranda and a series of music theatre works with young people. 
 Ozan an academic and a scholar with a special focus on Brechtian Theatre. He performs and creates as both musician and actor/theatre-maker, mixing music and theatre in a unique way to create new dramaturgical avenues and developing a fresh outlook for classics and popular works.
 Recent projects include Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Happy End, Bertold Brecht, The Irresistible Rise Of Arturo UI, Bertold Brecht, Three Penny Opera, Bertold Brecht, The Little Black Fish, Samed Behrangi, Clacson Trombetta e Bernacchi, Dario Fo. He recently directed UBU ROI at the Municipal Theatre of Bornova to great critical acclaim.
 He plays guitar, piano and percussion in several rock bands. Ozan straddles the worlds of dance and theatre evenly and is currently the director for the Signdance Collective's production of 'In Between Spaces' a music dance-theatre digital work.

Dr Kate Lawrence

 Kate trained in dance at Thamesdown and Laban (1984 – 1989) and ran feminist dance company Nomads in the 1990s. She is currently a part-time lecturer in performance at Bangor University and was previously dance lecturer at University of Surrey where she pioneered a vertical dance undergraduate module (2003 – 2010), fusing her dance background with her long-standing passion for rock climbing. She has taught around Britain and in Canada, France, Greece and Croatia.  She has undertaken commissions from and collaborated with National Theatre Wales, 9 Bach, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Marc Rees, Llawn Festival, Venue Cymru, Pontio and Pflasterspektalkl Linz resulting in performances on Belfast City Hall, Mount Snowdon, Guildford Cathedral, Garuda Wishnu Kencana Bali, St Nazaire U-boat base, Town Hall Belfry Dendermonde, Haus der Geschichten Linz, Bristol dock cranes, Welsh Assembly Building and National Library of Wales.  
 Her work since moving to Snowdonia in 2010 has been supported by Arts Council Wales and incudes a quartet of bespoke works developed in collaboration with Galeri, Caernarfon: Ynghwm/Roped Together (2011) Pobl Dre (2012), Gwymon (2013/14) and Omnibus (2016).  More recently she has worked in collaboration with Pontio in Bangor, producing Porth (2015) for the opening of the building and Yn y Golau (2017) which is currently being developed into a family show exploring light phenomena in nature through vertical dance.    
 Kate is a founder member of Vertical Dance Forum which is currently funded by Creative Europe to develop networks, nourish debate and provide opportunities in vertical dance.  She writes about site-specific performance and in 2010 published the first scholarly article on vertical dance: ‘Hanging from knowledge: ‘fieldwork’ on the National Library of Wales’ in Performance Research, ‘Fieldworks’: On Performance, Landscape and Environment. 
  In 2014, Kate established her own company, Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence, building on her work with local dance artists with whom she trains regularly.  In 2017 she was awarded a doctorate for her work: ‘Up, down and amongst: perceptions and productions of space in vertical dance’.  She is passionate about working collaboratively with artists from any discipline.  Last year, Sign Dance Collective invited her to work with them and she is really excited to be part of their creative team making vibrant expressive work across many languages and cultures.

 

Joke Menssink

Could you tell us about your background?

My great-great grandfather came from the Jordaan, but I came from Bussum. But I never felt at home there, and so later, in 1981, I came to Amsterdam. That happened on the same day that I started my theatre work, my writing work, and workshops and all kinds of things.  Before I moved to the house where I am now, near the Haarlemmerplein, I lived for 30 years on a house boat, near the Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug), in Amsterdam. I loved it! In the summer, I would stand on the bridge, look at my boat and I would feel jealous of myself!

I am a theatre director. I come from a theatre group called Werkteater, which was very famous in the Netherlands. It doesn’t exist anymore – it ended in 1989. I was involved with this group in the production and the background research information. Later I started doing theater science and then I became a director. My work is like a sort of labyrinth and I do it with my own form, called Invitation. I am also a website maker. I learnt to make websites with my adopted son in the 90s. In 2010 I decided I wanted to learn more about this field and so I went to University to study Information and Media. I recently started working again on my website, to produce an archive of my work. I don’t officially work anymore but I am still involved with the artistic and theater work. Because I don’t want to produce things on my own anymore, I now give my advise to different projects. I’ve just finished doing a music project at the Roode Bioscoop with Judith Hertzberg, who is a famous poet and theatre writer. She wrote a group of poems called Songs of Complains or, in Dutch, the Klaagliedjes. The project involved different voices, from Soul to Classical music. I contributed to this project as the artistic advisor. Soon I will go back to the North of the Netherlands, to finish up another project. I have a studio in Groningen, which is where my second home is.

Besides this, for a few years now I’ve been working in a monastery in France. It’s a very big one – with 50 rooms and all kinds of other spaces. A Dutchman made this monastery into a space where artists can come and stay and work on their projects – it’s called the Performing Arts Forum. It offers a very simple kind of accommodation – you have your own room, with a table for work, two lamps and heating. Anyone can go and stay there, as long as people follow three rules – you go there specifically for making or creating Artwork of any kind, you don’t leave traces (because everything belongs to everyone) and the people who are already there have priority over the new arrivals. This monastery has a library, a big garden, internet, we provide the sheets for the beds, towels, etc. Now the owner is getting older and so a group of 50 people, including me, decided to buy the building in order to keep this place and this concept for artistic work at a low price alive.

When did you first become involved with Framer Framed and in what way are you involved?

I started volunteering about half a year ago, in July 2015, as an exhibition host. I really like Framer Framed’s exhibitions because I always feel that the artists and their work speak for themselves. At the moment, unfortunately, I am not able to host because I don’t have much time, since I am busy with all these projects.

Why did you decide to be part of Framer Framed?

At some point I decided that besides work, I would like to do something different for myself. I thought to myself – “what do I like?”. And then I realised that I’m no longer very involved with different cultures – I used to travel a lot throughout the whole world and through that I was always gaining lots of different cultural inputs. But now, because I am older, that doesn’t happen so much anymore. And so I thought that I would like to be involved with an organisation which attracts lots of people from many different countries. That is how I came across Framer Framed.
Framer Framed for me is a way of meeting and being connected with new people, with different ways of thinking and different cultural backgrounds – the visitors, the people who work in the Tolhuistuin restaurant, the other people involved with Framer Framed. And another good thing about volunteering as a host in the gallery at the Tolhuistuin is that I can be there doing my own thing – it’s a sort of meditation for me.

Joke Menssink was interviewed by Sofia Lovegrove Pereira.

Richard Pollock

Richard has been a practicing musician for over 40 years and has played lead guitar and keyboards in a number of bands. He ran his own music rehearsal and recording studio and is a sound engineer. Richard has composed music for both band and theatre performances over the years and is currently teaching electric guitar to a wide age range of pupils. His music career has been one of continual learning, exploring guitar technique, electronic instruments and music theory in order to create a variety of moods and styles. His compositions are a rich and complex layering as he builds a tapestry of music which is provocative and enveloping. He enjoys very much the challenge of working creatively with Sign Dance Collective and through improvisation, finding innovative and hopefully interesting ways to communicate additional meaning through musical composition

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Associate Directors 

Dave Gray

 Creative Entrepreneur Dave Gray has conceived, originated and realised a unique series of artistic projects bridging business, local authority, education, and the third sector. He established Rampant Dragon Ltd in 2005, setting up collaborative workspace The Foundry, and launching a series of art and music events across North Wales to highlight the skills and talents of creative practitioners.

 In 2011 Dave founded social enterprise THIS Project, which has taken on a number of meanwhile use spaces, most notably Undegun. Undegun opened in July 2013 in a former retail space and has attracted over 150,000 visitors to a
range of art exhibitions, performances, workshops and networking events.

 Throughout the span of his career, Dave has overseen the organisation of over 1000 events – from staging Drama Productions, Live Music and Spoken Word
showcases, training and seminars, as well as large scale conferences.

 Additionally Dave is: a Director of Vic Studios Ltd., which provide a base for the support and development of young musicians at professional teaching, rehearsal and recording facilities; a steering group member of FOCUS Wales – a Music Festival and Music Industry Conference, featuring UK acts alongside global talent; an Associate Director of Sign Dance Collective International, supporting interactive, multi-lingual and sign language performances.

Pedro De Senna

 Associate director and performer at SDC. He is a theatre practitioner and academic. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he started performing in 1993. He has been a member of the Signdance Collective since 2010. Pedro has worked as a performer and dramaturge for "New Gold", "Half-a-Penny" and "The Other Side of the Coin", he has also acted as assistant director for  "Carthage/Cartagena" and "Bad Elvis".

 He is a lecturer in contemporary theatre and a programme leader on the BA theatre arts course with a special focus on theatre directing at Middlesex University. His academic research focuses on translation and adaptation looking at the relationship between directing, dramaturgy and disability aesthetics. Pedro’s chapter on the company’s creative processes for "New Gold" is included in Katja Krebs' book, "Translation and Adaptation in Theatre and Film" (Routledge).

 His award-winning play "A tragédia de Ismene, Princesa de Tebas" is based on the Theban myth of Oedipus and has been published by Móbile Editorial. 

Goro Osojnik

 Producer and actor Gorazd Osojnik (nickname Goro) was born on January 20, 1960, in Ljubljana. He studied Spanish and philosophy at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. He is an Actor, cultural manager and trainer with working experience in Slovenia, Western Europe (the UK, Netherlands and France) and the Middle East (Turkey, Ukraine). He joined the theatre in 1979 as a playwright. Since 1983, he has been a member, actor and co-author of the Anne Monro Theatre. From 1983 to 2002, he played and co-authored most of the performances of the Anne Monro Theater in over 35 different performances. In addition, he acted in Slovenian films and in children's plays, several TV shows.

 

In 1995, he invented the concept of Ana Desetnica, the international festival of street theatre, and in 1996, with the support of the National House, they became a regular feature of the LENT festival program. Since 1998, the Ana Desetnica festival has been taking place in Ljubljana and other Slovenian cities, where he is the leader and chief selector. Since 2001, the initiator and selector Anna Mraz, the winter festival of theatre on the bridge. In 2001, he directed his first dance performance - 'Named Space', a Sign Dance Collective production. He has directed Signdance Collective again in 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2018.

 

In 2012, he designed the project of Mate Korajž, in which he also co-operated as a co-director and actor. The performance included almost 40 members from 11 different countries.

 

He is currently working as an art and business manager at Anne Monro Theater where he resides as artistic director at Ana Desetnica, International Festival of Street Theatre, co-authoring and acting in the play of Mother Korajz (Mother Courage). co-authored and directed the tourist performance of the Ljubljana Story, director and mentor of ŠUGLE, school of street theatre. Goro is an associate director at the Signdance Collective Supervisory Board in the United Kingdom. Member of Circotrada international network committee; member of the SAWA informal international network. 

Ruth Gunstone

​ Associate director Ruth Gunstone TCert; BEd Hons, MA Education; MA Dist Drama and Theatre Arts.  Ruth worked in higher education for 37 years as a lecturer, Head of Department and Deputy Dean. Specialist teaching areas are English Literature and the Performing Arts. From 2010 to 2017 was Director of Student services running a big team responsible for student learning and well-being. Current Trustee for HWBIDCo Town Centre Management Board and Bucks New University Students’ Union.
 Ruth has been actively engaged in local Community Arts as a Trustee and Board Member for Wycombe Community Arts Centre. 
 Since 2010 January 2018, Ruth took on the role of Wycombe Arts Centre Manager in a volunteer capacity overseeing the day to day running of the Centre and organising bookings and scheduling events along with developing the programme of music, performance and creative art initiatives.

 

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