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Burn my Heart: Cast and Creative Team

21 September – 13 November 2010

Mugo: Lydiah Gitachu
Lydiah was born and grew up in Thika, Kenya, about 40 minutes from the capital city Nairobi. She attended Gatumaini Primary School in Thika and then Komothai Girls High School in Kiambu, Central Province. She later studied tours, travel and French for a year before joining actors at the National Theatre. Whilst studying at Kenya College of Accountancy, Lydia decided to dedicate all of her time to acting and has since created a very successful career in theatre, film, and TV. She currently lives in Pangani in Nairobi.Lydiah started acting when she was at primary school and continued through high school before becoming a professional actress. She has performed in over 200 plays, including, ‘A woman Alone’, ‘An Inspector Calls’, ‘A Dolls House’, ‘Cat In The Bag’, ‘Perfect Wedding’, ‘Boeing Boeing’, ‘Winds Of Change’, ‘Githaa’ and ‘Sauti Kimya’ which she performed in India last year.Lydiah’s film work includes numerous local movies and a number of international ones including ‘The First Grader’, ‘Run Run Mutinda’, and ‘Following Jesus in Africa’. Lydiah has also been involved in 10 television series in Kenya namely ‘Reflections’, ‘Tahidi High’, ‘Heartbeat FM’, ‘ Makutano Junction’, and ‘Higher Learning’ and also ‘Sommer’ for Danish TV and ‘Taking The Flak’ for the BBC. She has also performed in numerous commercials and radio plays in Kenya.

Lydiah says, “I would be honoured to be able to come and perform in the UK especially as this play is about my country’s history. When I read Burn my Heart it moved me and provoked so many emotions in me. It is every actors dream to be in a play like this one. It would be of great benefit to me to perform in the UK and work with a director such as Oliver, as I would get totally new ideas on how to improve my stage performance skills” 

Recently, she has formed the company Media4 Productions. For the last two years the company has been going to high schools and motivating the students by using their own life experiences.

Christian Dixon
Christian trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has been in numerous west end shows, theatrical productions alongside film and television.His Theatre credits include; Macbeth – Cheek By Jowl, The Plain Dealer, The Plantagenet’s and Kissing the Pope – RSC, The Park / A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Old Vic, The Little Foxes – The Donmar Warehouse, The Giant’s Baby – Polka Theatre, The Tempest – The Young Shakespeare Company.TV credits include; Max Speed in Brum for BBC TV and Escape From Kampala. Christian also worked for several years for the National Probation Service.

Matthew: Lowri James
Lowri trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked as an actress and a puppeteer in Europe and the UK.She has a strong interest in devising and performing new plays – previously with her company Sketty Productions – and has been supported in this by the National Theatre Studio, the SOHO Theatre, the Battersea Arts Centre and the Arts Council England.Performance credits include; The Migrant in Migrants Overture (Battersea Arts Centre) The Magicians Assistant in Black Magic (National Theatre Studio), Imogen puppeteer in Imogen (UK Tour), Ariadne inAriadne (Camden Peoples Theatre), The Torturess inProtect me from what I want (Young Vic) and Melissa in Melissa (Oval House Theatre).

Most recently she was the puppeteer for Skitterbang in Skitterbang Island; an opera for young people at the Polka theatre in collaboration with the Little Angel and has also been developing Faces with Trestle and Blind Eye Theatre Company.

Mr Grayson: Sam Parks
Sam trained at Exeter University and has worked in theatre in the UK and abroad. He toured Europe and The Far East in Animal Farm (AMDG) and The Tempest (A&BC Theatre).Other productions he has appeared in include The Fireraisers (Riverside Studios), A Fool and His Money(Nottingham Playhouse), The Tempest, Two Noble Kinsmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Timon of Athens (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Derby Playhouse), Oliver Twist (Library Theatre Manchester) and most recently in Epic(Theatre 503) and I Am Shakespeare and The Criticboth for Chichester Festival Theatre.On TV Sam has appeared in The Bill, The Chase, Life Begins, MIT, Judge John Deed, London’s Burning, Family Affairs and three series of Silent Witness. Sam’s radio work includes From Abstraction and The Franchise Affair, both for the BBC.

Lance: Géhane Strelher
Géhane Strehler graduated from Guildford School of Acting and went on to appear in the award winningSlavery in the New York & Los Angeles, as well as Adela in House of Bernada Alba and Shirley inColours of Your Life.British theatre credits include Rattle of a Simple Man– Nuffield Theatre; Shaft of Sunlight – Eye of Moon – Watford Palace Theatre; Broken Silences – Abbey Theatre; Apna Ghar – Black Country Theatre; 4.48 Psychosis – Old Red Lion/Arcola Theatre; Theatre Café – Company of Angels; La Fille a la Mode – National Theatre.Géhane spent a year as a resident actor at the Unicorn Theatre and appeared in various productions: Rabia – Red Fortress, Princess Aurora –Sleeping Beauty, Feste – Twelfth Night and then embarked on a world tour of Romeo and Juliet with TNT theatre and performed internationally as Juliet .

Being part Arabian/African/German/American she has a love of travel, exotic cultures and music. Géhane has an obscure name that even she doesn’t know how to pronounce. Perhaps she is Afrabiangermerican and therefore goes by the name of Gigi! This performance is dedicated to her Bibi (1937-2009).

Creative team
Artistic Director, Blindeye: Oliver Jones
Oliver is currently Associate Director at Trestle and was previously Youth Theatre Director at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. He is an Associate Director of the National Youth Theatre and a board member of Jacksons Lane. Oliver is also Artistic Director of Blindeye, a company that works with human rights survivors and produces work on human rights issues at home and abroad.
He studied Drama at Manchester University and acting at Arts Ed and has recently trained with Yoshi Oida, Gennadi Bogdanov, Peter Brook and Peta Lily. His work as a director includes ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ and ‘Twelve Fifteen’ both for Trestle, ‘Incident 5’ as part of Nabakov’s Present Tense at The Junction, Cambridge, and many productions at The Drum, Plymouth, including ‘Just’ by Ali Smith, ‘Widows’ by Ariel Dorfman, ‘Mad Forest’ by Caryl Churchill, and ‘R.U.R’ by Karel Capek.As a youth theatre director his work includes ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Spectacle X’ for NYT, and ‘Trapped’ for Theatre Royal Stratford East. As an actor he has worked at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Sheffield Crucible, and Chichester Festival Theatre, and has toured extensively throughout Europe and South East Asia.His TV and film work includes BBC, France 3 and Scala Films. He has also written extensively for BBC Radio and won the Radio Five Sports Shorts competition with his script, ‘The Try’ that was produced by BBC Radio Devon. He is writer/director of Relevant Lives, a national project raising awareness of young people leaving care, and has made two short films for them. Oliver worked for many years at The Photographers Gallery and his work is highly influenced by photography, especially the work of Robert Capa, Don McCullin, and Joel Sternfeld.

Click here to visit the Blindeye website

Adapter: Rina Vergano
Translator and playwright Rina Vergano started out working at the Round House in the1970s, went on to train in European-style theatre in Amsterdam and wrote plays for Toneelgroep Vitrage and the Holland Festival.Her translations of Dutch, Flemish and Italian plays for younger audiences have toured internationally and been produced in the UK by Company of Angels, Grid Iron, Quicksilver and Unicorn Theatre.Her first children’s play The Tower was developed at Polka Theatre and the Tobacco Factory. Rina is also artistic director/dramaturge for Theatre Orchard Project in Somerset, a member of Bristol Old Vic Writers Room and a theatre journalist.

Burn My Heart is her first commission from Trestle, and she’d like to thank the Bristol Old Vic for lending her a room to write it in.

Anoushska Athique
Anoushka is a theatre designer and multi-disciplinary artist intent on capturing the naïve qualities of the imagination and using these qualities to re-tell stories revealing a simple, poetic style.Underpinning this is an interest in recreating space through its emotional resonance. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2005 with an MA in Scenography, Anoushka has undertaken a broad spectrum of projects both in the UK and internationally.Work has included The Barber of Seville, Degollado Theatre, Guadalajara, Mexico – awarded city prize for best scenography; designing for the Young Company and Peoples Company at the Plymouth Theatre Royal; the performance walks Mobile Machinoeki and Fabulous Walks in Teignmouth and her first solo exhibition at the Wellington Arts Centre, New Zealand.

Click here to visit Anoushka Athique’s website

Lighting Designer: John Purkis
John Purkis started his lighting career in Germany in the late 1980s, working mostly in the rock scene touring with Twelve Drummers Drumming, Billy and the Willies, Sun and K.A.Y.T , before transferring to theatre in the mid 90s when he worked for the Musical Bhune Monchengladbach / Koln, projects included, Gambler, Gaudi.In 1998 John returned to the UK and became the resident electrician at the Theatre Royal Plymouth/Drum Theatre where the majority of his lighting design work has been done, including previous projects with Oliver Jones (Widows, R.U.R, At Break of Day, Mad Forest, The Kitchen). Other credits include; Henry IV, Medea, The Misanthrope,directed by Andrew Dawson. Bed Bug, Marat Sade, Adult Child Dead Child, directed by Kevin Johnson.2084, Frankenstein, Peter Pan, at The Barbican Theatre (Plymouth) directed by Nick Stimpson.Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marriage of Anansewa, Grease, The Forbidden Planet, The Hired Man, Fame, Plymouth University M.T.G directed by Darren Lake.A.V designs include: The Talisman and Devonport Dash, directed by David Prescott. John has most recently designed The Body by Nick Darke, and is very happy to be involved in the latest Trestle theatre production, Burn my Heart.

Composer: Juwon Ogungbe
Composer, singer, theatre music director and music educator, Juwon Ogungbe was born in London to Nigerian parents. He was educated in the UK and Nigeria and has been involved creatively in many memorable UK African Theatre projects.
Juwon has been commissioned to write music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, LIFT, Collective Artistes, Badejo Arts, The Southbank Centre, Union Dance , BBC Radio Drama, amongst many others.He has performed principal baritone roles in many operas, and in song recitals that have covered a wide range of the western art music repertoire. Juwon has also devised and led major ‘music in the community’ projects for the British Council, Horniman Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sinfonia ViVa, Lontano, English Pocket Opera, Lewisham Education Arts Network and many others.He has worked as artist in residence at Gaialive (a pioneering UK internet radio station, as part of the Year of the Artist), the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green and HMP Wormwood Scrubs. Most recently Juwon composed ‘Time and the Trickster’s Heart’ an Oratorio based in Yoruba mythology for The London Lucumi Choir. This work was premiered in London in December 2009.

Click here to vist Juwon Ongungbe’s website

Technical Stage Manager: Neil Sowerby

Sound Designer: Neil Sowerby
Neil Sowerby is a freelance audio engineer specialising in theatre sound, location recording, sound design and production. Based in London, he has worked with charm, calm and clarity for a wide range of artists and organisations.Neil studied at SAE in Glasgow and Queen Margaret University’s Department of Creative Industries. While his work has moved from studio production to theatre over the last few years, he remains involved in both disciplines, working with musicians wherever possible and continuing to build electronic instruments, FX and MIDI controllers.Current clients include Sound & Fury, King’s Place, Riverside Studios, Autograph Sound Recording, Crocodile Clips Games and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Click here for Neil Sowerby’s Website

Associate Artist: Emily Gray – more…

Assistant Director: Emma Whittaker
Producer: Jo Salkilld
Tour Booker: Natalie Richardson
Marketing Manager: Rhian Desborough