air Field is the result of a unique collaboration between writers, academics, musicians, actors and artists, and is backed up by a talented technical, design and production team. Scroll down to meet the faces behind this summer’s extraordinary events.
Tom Chivers – Producer & Artistic co-Director
Tom Chivers was born in south London in 1983 and studied Medieval English at St Anne’s, Oxford. He has published two collections and two pamphlets of poetry, the latest being Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). Tom has made perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for LIFT/BAC, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth Festival and Southbank Centre. His poem ‘The Event’ was turned into an animated film and broadcast by Channel 4. In 2011 he received an Eric Gregory Award; his work has also been shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan and Michael Marks Prizes.
Tom is director of Penned in the Margins
, a multi-award-winning arts producing company that makes new work for performance and the page. Over the last ten years he has published over 70 books of poetry, fiction and literary non-fiction, and has produced a range of live shows that have toured nationally and internationally to venues including Southbank Centre, Sage Gateshead and NCPA Mumbai. He lives in Rotherhithe with his wife and daughter.
Russell Bender – Artistic co-Director
Russell is a theatre maker and director, and is Creative Associate of Penned in the Margins. He trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq. Credits as director include Darknet by Rose Lewenstein (Southwark Playhouse), Kiss of the Earth (UK tour), The Shroud by Siddhartha Bose (Rich Mix / Norfolk & Norwich Festival) and Game of Life by Rose Lewenstein (The Yard).
Russell has developed work at BAC, Cambridge Junction and the National Theatre Studio. As staff/assistant director he has worked for the National Theatre and Complicite. He is artistic director of theatre and technology company Potential Difference.
Dr Lawrence Warner – Academic Consultant
Lawrence is Reader in Medieval English at King’s College London and Director of the International Piers Plowman Society. His book The Myth of ‘Piers Plowman’
(Cambridge, 2014), won the 2016 Beatrice White Prize, awarded by the English Association for outstanding scholarly work in the field of English Literature before 1590.
“Fair Field reimagines Piers Plowman for today in ways that make me look at the poem, and at the world, in wonderful and exciting new ways.”
Eleanor Turney – Associate Producer
Eleanor is a freelance consultant, journalist and editor. She has worked across the arts for clients including the British Council, the Poetry Society and the BBC, and was previously Managing Editor at The Space. She is Co-Director of Incoming Festival
, an annual celebration of the best emerging theatre companies.
“Fair Field is such an exciting confluence of ideas, genres and styles. I can’t wait to see what the artists create.”
Tom MacAndrew – Schools Co-ordinator
Tom is a producer and project manager specialising in poetry and spoken word programmes. Having worked at the Poetry Society for several years, Tom is currently engaged on projects for Forward Arts Foundation, the Campaign for Literacy in Primary Education, Poetry by Heart and Out-Spoken Press. He is producing work by poets Francesca Beard, Joelle Taylor and Anthony Anaxagorou.
“Developing an education programme for Fair Field is a fantastic chance to show how texts like Piers Plowman can be simultaneously poignant, hilarious and unnervingly relevant to contemporary issues.”
The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments
Clare Salaman. I am drawn to interesting sounds, especially those which include plenty of jangle and scrape. I play old and unusual instruments in many different contexts, ranging from baroque orchestras to collaborations with Tanzanian and Norwegian traditional musicians. I am director of The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, which is now the focus of my work.Leah Stuttard. I come from a Lancashire mill town and you can still hear it in my voice. The first medieval music I loved was on scratchy David Munrow LPs which I bought for £1 from the local library. I have played the medieval harp for 20 years, working around the world with groups such as Hesperion (Spain) and Micrologus (Italy).
Viven Ellis. I was born on an Essex farm, trained as an English teacher, and dreamed of being a performer. A life-changing apprenticeship to folk singer Frankie Armstrong led me to the discovery of folk and early music. I sang with early music groups Sinfonye and The Dufay Collective and now work with The Carnival Band.
Breach is an award-winning multimedia theatre company creating socially engaged, formally innovative live performances that blend subtle humour with a sharp political edge. Breach’s work to date has explored reworking history through performance – from a 1980s riot in a Wiltshire field to a 1960s experiment into teaching dolphins English.
“Our work so far has explored the possibilities of reworking history through performance and video documentation, using archival materials and personal testimonies. We’re excited by the challenges that a historical literary text presents us for developing these techniques, and the opportunities to find links between Langland’s England and the contemporary political climate.”
Francesca Millican-Slater is a writer and performer. Following a successful run at Edinburgh Festival she has spent early 2017 touring Stories to tell in the Middle of the Night throughout the West Midlands as part of the Sir Barry Jackson tour, commissioned by Birmingham Rep. In 2015/2016 she was artist-in-residence at the National Waterways Museum. She has been touring My Dearest Girls since 2014 across the country and will continue to do so until 2018.
“What draws me to Piers Plowman is the richness of the language, the parallels in parables of corruption and consumption in our modern society, and the challenge of translating and transporting this in to different forms of performance.”
Nick is a writer, performer and musician. His work has been produced and staged at major events and venues, and his residencies and commissions include Keats House and London Metropolitan Archives. As an arts educator he has worked with organisations including City Lit, The Poetry School, Ideas Tap and Apples & Snakes.
“This is a fascinating opportunity to explore an ancient text from contemporary perspectives, and find the parallels and resonances in this epic and glorious medieval poem.”
Annette Brook is a playwright from south London. She is an alumna of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme and was a Jerwood/Arvon mentee 2015-16. Her play Gala Mae was longlisted for the 2016 Alfred Fagon Award. Other plays include: Make You Mine (Soho Theatre, 2010); Little Baby Nothing (Theatre503, 2013); Halves (White Bear Theatre 2014); The other half (The Feminist Library, 2015) and Epiphany (Horse & Stables, 2017).
Steve Ely’s books of poetry include Oswald’s Book of Hours, <i<Englaland and Werewolf. His latest book, Incendium Amoris, is published this summer. His biographical work, Ted Hughes’s South Yorkshire, is an account of the former Poet Laureate’s Yorkshire formation. He teaches creative writing at the University of Huddersfield, where he is Director of the Ted Hughes Network.
“Langland’s vision of England as a ‘fair field full of folk’ – with its implications of social and ecological justice and carnival – embodies a vision of England that is as relevant today as it was in the fourteenth century. It provides the basis for an exploration of the two most urgent questions of our time: who are we, and how do we want to live?”
Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh. He has published the poetry collections Things To Do Before You Leave Town (2009), Twelve Nudes (2010) and Emergency Window (2012), as well as the digital-only collection of sonnets Hyakuretsu Kyaku (2011), all with Penned in the Margins.
He has produced work for stage and radio, including Comedian Dies in the Middle of Joke and Standby for the Tape Back Up, as well as the documentaries Every Rendition on a Broken Machine, and Stand By For Tape Back Up (adapted from the stage show). Sutherland also writes and presents the podcast Imaginary Advice.
Larry Achiampong (b. 1984, UK) completed a BA in Mixed Media Fine Art at University of Westminster (2005) and an MA in Sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art (2008). He lives and works in London. Larry’s solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity – in particular, dichotomies found within a world dominated by social media and digital frameworks.
Larry has exhibited, performed and presented in the UK and abroad including Tate Britain/Modern; Institute For Creative Arts, Cape Town; Modern Art Oxford; Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, Accra; The Mistake Room, Los Angeles; and Logan Center Exhibitions, Chicago. Recent residencies include Tyneside Cinema; Praksis, Oslo; British Library/Sound & Music; and Wysing Arts Centre. He’s currently artist in residence at Somerset House Studios and a recipient of Artsadmin’s Artist’s Bursary Scheme. He is presenting artwork in the Diaspora Pavillion at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Nicola Jedrzejczak is a Fine Artist based in Ledbury, Herefordshire. She specialises in the practice of book arts. She graduated from Hereford College of Arts in 2015.
Sophie Fenella – Poet in Residence
Sophie Fenella is a writer and performer from London. Her work presents a personal perspective of political issues and advocates social change.
Sophie has been published by numerous publications such as Magma, Eyewear, The Rialto, The Morning star and Popshot, and is currently making a show about mental health merging poetry with clowning, to be performed at the Roundhouse in June.
Robin Berry – Actor
Robin Berry’s theatre credits include One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre), Darknet (Potential Difference/Southwark Playhouse) & Dagestan (Penned in the Margins). He is currently touring the UK with a one-man show, Scorched.
Catherine Cusack – Actor
Catherine Cusack plays Lady Mede and the Priest of Truth. Her theatre credits include the award-winning Our Lady of Sligo by Sebastian Barry at the National Theatre and The Seagull (Headlong). Her screen credits include Doctor Who, Coronation Street and Finding Neverland.
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson – Actor
Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson joins the cast as Holy Church, Conscience and Pride. Her theatre credits include roles in His Dark Materials West Yorkshire Playhouse/ Birmingham Rep/ Blind Summit, new writing at Theatre 503 and forum theatre with Talawa. Lateisha is a spoken word artist and Creative Director of Hit the Ground theatre company.
Michael Oku – Actor
Michael Oku plays the Pie-seller, Reason, Envy and Piers the Plowman. He began acting sporadically through his childhood before creating an online character in his teen years, referring to himself as “The O.J.M.O” – a cocky, self-absorbed American vlogger. From there, Oku began acting professionally and has since been part of various theatre productions, most notably, Blackta at the Young Vic and Calais at Barons Court Theatre.
Michael Wagg – Actor
Michael Wagg plays False, Avarice and Satan. He has toured regularly with Theatre Alibi, and worked with Trestle Theatre, Hijinx Theatre, Birmingham Stage, Red Herring, Time Won’t Wait, Changeling Theatre, Sonia Friedman and Dash Arts, among others. He works regularly with site-specific company Teatro Vivo as an actor and writer, including on the forthcoming Twistov.
Gary Campbell – Designer
Maggie Campbell & Sonia Odedra – Costume designers
Edward Lewis – Sound designer
Hannah Moore – Production manager
Ella Dixon – Company Stage Manager
James Trevelyan – Production assistant
Mark Morreau – Filmmaker