Jim Pope (CEO and Co-Artistic Director) and Philip Osment (Co-Artistic Director) lead the artistic processes of writing and devising new work, directing performances and planning for each programme of work with a producer.
There are two associate artists Segun Olaiya and Michael Amaning who co-facilitate engagement workshops, perform in scratch and professional performances and contribute to strategic planning at company meetings. Both Segun and Michael were engaged through Playing ON’s outreach and engagement work and are role models for the vision of the company.
There are several Associate members who participate in devising sessions with new user groups, perform in scratch and professional performances and attend regular company meetings.
Philip is a highly experienced writer, director, dramaturg and teacher. He has written and translated plays for a wide range of organisations including Method and Madness, the RSC, 20 Stories High, Theatre Centre, the Unicorn Theatre, BBC Radio, the Royal Court, Red Ladder Theatre Company, The National Youth Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Theatre Royal, Stratford East. He directed for Gay Sweatshop, Theatre Centre, Red Ladder, at the National Theatre Studio, The Bristol Old Vic and Teatrul Dramatic, Constanza, Romania. In 2011he created and directed MAD BLUD, a verbatim piece about knife crime for the Theatre Royal Stratford East and won the 2013 Best Play for Young People Writers Guild award for his play WHOLE produced by 20 Stories High.
He wrote and co-directed INSIDE and wrote HEARING THINGS.
Jim created the Playing Up programme for the National Youth Theatre, which was committed to delivering level 3 accredited learning to young people who were not in education, employment or training. In its first year 14 out of its 18 strong cohort achieved places in top drama schools including RADA, Rose Bruford, ALRA and Central as well as leading universities Bristol and London Metropolitan.
He is a trainer for Leap Confronting Conflict and for the past year has been leading the START programme at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith for young people who have been excluded from mainstream education. He has provided teaching, training and consultation for the Roundhouse, The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Cardboard Citizens and the NYT in peer mentoring and working with challenging behaviour and taught on BA and MA courses at Central SSD and Brighton University. He has extensive experience as an actor, director and teacher and performed the role of Liam in INSIDE, co-directing the Roundhouse production. He directed HEARING THINGS
It all started about four years ago when I was trying to establish myself in the car trade by day and boxing at night. I hoped that trouble had finished with me as I was fed up of trouble. A friend of mine suggested that I go to a prison workshop training session and it was there that I discovered there were people not only discussing the issues of why young people were filling up our jails but how to keep them out once they had left. The plan was to equip them with social skills that would help them on the outside and get them thinking about what can improve their life so they wont turn back to crime. Spearheading this work – and now a dear friend and business associate of mine – was Jim Pope. His approach to the young people intrigued me, his opinions made sense and it seemed he had experienced many truths that give these problems life. Jim pointed me in the direction of a social inclusion programme run by the National Youth Theatre that gave me the opportunity to attend workshops covering basic acting skills once a week. This course was developed into ‘Playing Up’, an accredited 3-day intensive course created by Jim Pope covering the world of acting and its social relevance. Although acting has become something I cannot do without, it was the social element of the process behind acting and the social impact it could have on its participants that appealed to me. It could be used as a social tool to help create better communication amongst young people, getting them thinking outside the world they’ve grown to know. It was at this point that I decided I did not want to take the ‘actors’ route.
I had discovered something I wanted to share, something I believed would benefit the young people where I grew up. I did not want to just open doors that were once closed to me, I wanted to leave them open so others could follow. During the course we were encouraged to apply to higher education institutions. This is not something I had planned to do. Going back to school would mean putting my life on hold. But I knew what it meant to embark on this journey and that it would take me to places I had never been and create a world which is better suited to what I wanted out of life – to help excel those who had been placed at a disadvantage in society through no fault of their own. I applied and was successful in getting into Central School of Speech and Drama, London where I am studying Applied Theatre and Education.
Michael is an actor and facilitator and originally met Jim in 2003 through Blue Sky Arts and Media, a New Deal regeneration initiative in South Kilburn for which Jim designed the curriculum. He attended a further education college but dropped out. He has subsequently completed Playing Up 2 and a degree course at East London University in Theatre Studies (International). Michael studied abroad in Chicago as part of his degree and has recently returned from working with AfroReggae in Brazil.
‘Travelling has been the biggest part of my journey. Being given the chance to study and learn in Chicago and Brazil has opened up my mind and added to my practice immensely. Visiting the favela’s in Brazil was a privilege and an experience I can adapt to my practice and use to share in my city and its communities.’.