Thought Residencies

Welcome to the Thought Residencies. Here you will find artists willing to share their thoughts, ideas, feelings in short samples.

Thought Residencies offer a brief holiday from the mantle of your own thoughts and give you the opportunity to unwind over a brief  interlude with some of our most interesting performance creators.

Each month, we invite an artist to join us in our thought-space. In turn, we invite you to listen to their thoughts. It is completely free and digitally intimate.

If you would like to respond to the thoughts please feel free to write to us at or comment directly onto the Souncloud file.

MAYK’s Thought Residences are presented in collaboration with Canada's SpiderWebShow, who created the original concept.


History. Myth. Remembering. What stories can we tell each other of our past?

Created and written by the company, A Spark and a Beating Heart is about us. Who we are, how we came here and why we do what we do. It’s a celebration and a love-letter, a party and an elegy. Mixing the many myths of the firebird with a collective reflection on lives lived. We are here to tell you our story.

Yes, a spark and a beating heart full of fire, just before the story starts or the lights come up, us small players become the main act.

Firebird Theatre are a unique group of disabled theatre-makers, spanning generations. They have been making theatre together for 25 years. Their experiences tell stories of shifting attitudes towards difference and disability; of understanding and ignorance.

The experience of having a disability has changed almost unrecognisably since 1985, when Firebird was born. Society’s attitude towards disability rights only really began in the 1970s with the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Four years before Firebird (or The Portway Players as the company were then), the government came up with recommendations for anti-discrimination legislation. It would be fourteen years before the Disability Discrimination Act was created in 1995, and arguably it is only recently that the public’s perception of and attitude towards disabled people has shifted with the 2012 Paralympic Games.

This new show will celebrate Firebird’s quarter of a century of professional theatre-making. Firebird is a unique company, ranging from ages 22 to 70. The experience of the youngest members of the company is very different to those nearing retirement (for example, living in a long-stay residential hospital). The show will use first-hand stories of Firebird artists (captured through work with local writer Claire Williamson), intertwined with the story of the firebird/phoenix. This new work will return to the company’s devising roots, using the symbols and structure of the firebird story as a structure for collecting their stories.

A Spark and a Beating Heart premiered at theTrinity Centre, Bristol between 11th-13th May 2017. It will tour in 2018.

Devised by Firebird Theatre
Produced by by MAYK
In association with Bristol Old Vic

If you're a programmer interested in the show please contact Matthew for more information. 

Night. We find a space in the margins of the city in which to gather: to start an ad hoc ceremony, to stamp our feet and shake our limbs, to dance in the face of an ending.

Of Riders and Running Horses is a stirring and visceral new dance event by Still House created as a communal animation of urban spaces. A group of female dancers and a live band conjure a new kind of old dance, an insistent rhythm, a joyful step into what it means to move together.

The music is a rider and we are running horses.

The stars are out. Dancing under the open sky makes a felt difference. It moves itself differently. And these age-old sediments no longer stick to my bones, melting in the blood. Michael Klien

“Of Riders and Running Horses goes in cycles: a soloist starts, then others join in. They fizz off into their own thing, then come back together. It’s about leading and following, about movements building. Canham’s choreography is a cultural collage: quoting from Balinese shamans and Scottish dancing, New Zealand rituals and American jive. It ends with an invitation and, on top of a car park, on a warm May evening, in the middle of Bristol, 100 people jump in and dance.”
— Whats On Stage
“Dan Canham and Laura Dannequin’s superb choreography beautifully accentuates the fluidity of a dancer’s body, the wave of motion passing up from the feet into the trunk and out through the arms and hands … The final ensemble piece is an irresistible fanfare, with the dancers galloping round the edges of the space like horses charging round a circus ring. And finally the dancers grab people out of the audience and soon everyone’s dancing in a spontaneous rave, till we’re all feeling warm again, inside and out.”
— Bristol 247


forthcoming performances

There are currently no forthcoming performances of Of Riders and Running Horses. Check back soon.

funders & supporters

Of Riders and Running Horses is produced by MAYK, commissioned by Dance Umbrella, Pavilion Dance South West and Theatre Bristol. Supported using public funding through Arts Council England. Research and Development was supported by the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project, with funds from The Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Appetite, Birmingham Hippodrome, Dance Umbrella, DanceEast, DanceXchange, Greenwich Dance, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Independent Dance, Pavilion Dance South West, and The Place. Additional research and development support from Bristol Old Vic Ferment and Trinity Community Arts.



2016 Tbilisi, GeorgiaTbilisi International Festival of Theatre; London, National Theatre, Mayfest River Stage; GlasgowMerchant City Festival; WinchesterHat Fair; Prague, Czech RepublicTanec Praha; Ostrava, Czech RepublicTanec Praha; Pilsen, Czech RepublicTanec Praha; EastleighThe Point; SalisburySalisbury International Arts Festival; BristolMayfest; BrightonBrighton festival/caravan; GloucesterStrike a light; CardiffBristish Dance Edition

2015 London, Dance Umbrella/LIFT; BirminghamFierce/mac/Birmingham Weekender; Cambridge, Cambridge Junction; Bassano Del Grappa, Bmotion festival; BournemouthPDSW; BristolMayfest

>> Incoming, deep travel
>> Estimated 600 souls
>> Estimated 600 souls lost in 81 minutes

There is a Dark Land in the depths of space. Ships are drawn to it like moths to a flame, where they are consumed, destroyed. A lighthouse orbits the Dark Land. Teller Ghent is the keeper – one woman alone on Lighthouse 5. But the lighthouse is dying. Teller’s only company is a sentient computer with a taste for the poetic… and a host of terrible visions from the end of the universe.

Teller is afraid. She thinks she might be losing. But she is never, never giving up.

Dark Land Light House is a visual and visceral sci-fi horror – 2001: A Space Odyssey, spliced with the ancient unspeakable terrors of HP Lovecraft, with all-enveloping sound and music inspired by Ben Frost and Richard Skelton.

Cast includes: Laura Dannequin, Derek Frood, Jessica Macdonald

Written by Timothy X Atack
Directed by Tanuja Amarasuriya
Original Music and Sound by North Sea Navigator & Timothy X Atack
Production Design by Rosanna Vize
Lighting Design by Ben Pacey
Projection & Video Design by Rod Maclachlan
Production Manager: Chris Swain
Production Photography: Paul Blakemore

Dark Land Light House premiered at Bristol Old Vic in April 2016

about sleepdogs

Sleepdogs is a collaboration between director/producer Tanuja Amarasuriya and writer/composer Timothy X Atack. They make theatre, film, audio and digital work characterised by surprising storytelling and detailed sound design. They are wilfully interdisciplinary in their process and are interested in the splicing of traditions, scenic routes not yet taken, stories that haven’t been told quite that way before, familiar emotions made complex again.


If you are interested in presenting Dark Land Light House, please contact Matthew.

Photos: Paul Blakemore

funders & partners

Produced by MAYK. A Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Bristol Old Vic Ferment commission. Developed with support from Bristol University Drama Department. Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The sounds of this town’s streets, wildlife, nightlife, vehicles, venues, homes, musicians and offices are looped, sieved, filtered, warped and stretched to make new, beautiful and perturbing music.


Originally created for Theaster Gates’ Bristol Sanctum in 2015, Circadial is a place-specific,
live improvised sound performance. Each version of Circadial is unique and created specially
for each location Sleepdogs play. They make local field recordings over the days and nights preceding
the show; then cut these recordings up, and transform them into beats, tones and echoes they
can play live as an improvised, shifting music performance made entirely from the sounds of
the town they’re in.

Circadial is about the rhythms and polyphony of a place; the way that sound can locate you
in time and geography. There’s so much noise in the world that we naturally tune out the
tones and frequencies we don’t need to hear. But when you take time to really listen, you can
often feel the landscape reshaping around you in an almost physical way. Circadial invites
the audience to think about and reimagine their hometown through a new way of hearing it.
The music that emerges is sometimes perturbing, often beautiful, always surprising.

Sleepdogs have used these techniques of digitally manipulating field recordings as the basis of music
composition in lots of their theatre work, but this is the first project where they’ve put location
and process at the centre of the performance.

Each version of Circadial is unique and created specially for each location they play.


For further information about booking and presenting Circadial, please contact Kate.

Sleepdogs originally made Circadial for Theaster Gates’ Sanctum, at Bristol’s Temple Church.

Forthcoming presentations

Previous presentations

Circadial (Bristol) 1-4: Sanctum at Bristol Temple Church
Circadial (Bristol) 5: Bristol Old Vic, as part of Ferment
Circadial (Bristol) 6: The Station, as part of Mayfest
Circadial (Bristol) 7: The Wardrobe Theatre, as part of Mayfest
Circadial (Bristol Old Vic Studio RIP remix) 8: Bristol Old Vic Studio
Circadial (London) 9-10: at the National Theatre, River Stage as part of the Mayfest takeover weekend



Exposure is the beginning of an investigation into how we look, how we are looked at and if we can ever really be seen. This intimate one to one performance is a tender and tentative look into autobiography, asking how fully we can reveal ourselves – to ourselves, to another, with another.

It comes out of a tentative enquiry Jo is making into autobiography and into how she looks and appears in the world, this is informed by her relationship to the fact that she has albinism. Albinism, a condition which affects her pigmentation and also her sight, affects both how she physically sees and experiences the world and how she is seen and perceived.

“Simple, beautiful, evocative – authentic!”
— Audience Member

about Jo bannon

Jo Bannon is a UK based artist making live art and performance. Jo has presented work in the UK and Europe and is an associate artist with In Between Time and founder member of Residence. Created by Jo Bannon. Developed with the support of Rules and Regs and South Hill Park. Further development is supported by Bristol Ferment, Dartington Space with the support of the Dartington Hall Trust, In Between Time,The Basement, Residence, RWA, Arnolfini, & BAC. Funded by Arts Council England.

At the core of Jo’s work is a fascination with human exchange and the hope and futility which this endeavour entails. Her work explores how our physical bodies experience the world around us and how this sensory experience of living can only be conveyed in a faltering rudimentary language which continually fails to express how we see the world to each other. Jo’s practice explores how live performance and encounters might be used as a strategy against this. As a result her work often manifests as intimate encounters designed for one person or small audiences alongside staged theatre work and installations.


MAYK are working with Jo on future touring of Exposure. If you would like further information or to book the show, contact Matthew.

Located somewhere between a theatre show and a stadium pop concert, Sam Halmarack & The Miserablites are the bombastic pioneers of interactive stadium pop. Get ready for handclapping anthems and electro music to move and inspire. With songs, stories and a little help from you we will all come together to offer a unique take on what it means to be redeemed by music. A lightning-fast journey from the depths of failure to collective euphoria in the space of just a few songs.

Singing is believing. Join in the feeling.

“Sam Halmarack’s vulnerable little gem of a show drips with courage, comedy and open-handed honesty. A hero in the making”
— Venue Magazine

Sam Halmarack and the Miserablites premiered at Mayfest 2011, following development through Bristol Ferment. It has since begun to tour nationally to considerable acclaim, and we are working with Sam to develop new relationships for presenting this unique & irrepressible piece in both theatre and music contexts.

about sam halmarack

Sam Halmarack is a musician, theatre-maker and sound-designer. Alongside collaborations with artists including Tom Wainwright, Bodies in Flight, Tom Marshman, Duncan Speakman, Dearheart Ensemble and the Engage programme with Bath Theatre Royal, Sam also toured extensively with his band The Master Chaynjis and was one half of Chew Magna, an electro-pop duo. In 2012, he joined forces with Stuart Bowden and the inimitable Bryony Kimmings for A DIY Nativity at Cambridge’s Junction. Sam is a member of Residence, an artist led organisation creating space for artists to make performance, live art and theatre in Bristol.


Sam Halmarack and the Miserablites is available for touring. Please contact Kate for further information. And if you’d like to come and see it, keep it here for details of future performances.

Photo: Farrows Creative

forthcoming performances

There’s a concert orchestra, trapped in a city during a military coup. As violence erupts, with pitched battles breaking out around them, the orchestra becomes separated – lost – hoping and trying to find their way back to each other.

The composer is left to tell the story.

With an intricate, fractured narrative and haunting soundtrack, The Bullet and The Bass Trombone is a modern hymn to people and places now lost. The story comes together from the smallest of pieces, like a mosaic: a whistling bird in the jungle; an antique harp used for target practice; a gunfight on an airport runway; a murder in a forest of music stands.

It’s a fugue of voices, memories and sounds, played concertostyle by a lone performer trying to make sense of the chaos.

Written and performed by Timothy X Atack
Directed by Tanuja Amarasuriya
Original Lighting Design by Aaron J Dootson


Sleepdogs is a collaboration between writer/composer Timothy X Atack and producer/director Tanuja Amarasuriya.  Previous theatre work includes The Morpeth Carol, Astronaut and Buzzard.  They work with stories and prompts to the imagination across theatre, film, sound and online. Their work is characterised by imaginative storytelling and detailed, integrated sound design.


The Bullet and the Bass Trombone is available for touring, contact Matthew for more details.

funders & supporters

A Bristol Old Vic Ferment commission. Produced by MAYK. Developed with support from Parabola Arts Centre, Live Theatre, The Empty Space and Forest Fringe. Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

BUY the CD & programme

The Bullet and the Bass Trombone CD

We worked with Sleepdogs to produce a beautifully packaged EP and programme for The Bullet and the Bass Trombone.

The EP contains three specially mixed tracks using music and sound from the show, and also includes an original text by Sleepdogs about both the EP and the making of the show.

The Bullet and the Bass Trombone EPs are available to buy for just £4 + postage and packing.

Add To Cart

listen to the sounds of the show



Every year at Mayfest – the theatre festival we run in Bristol – we notice the energy and passion of the conversations that take place, whether those conversations are part of one of our breakfast talks or late night propping up the bar, or in the queue for a show. We want to find a way to keep hold of that energy and passion all year round, especially in a country that seems almost unrecognisable to the one we were living in in May. More than ever we need time and space to come together and have a good old chat and a think.

So we came up with the idea of the MAYK Salon. Salon seems a grand term, but it seems right somehow: “a meeting for learning or enjoyment”. MAYK Salon will be a monthly event for anyone to attend, held in a pub or a café after work where we can meet, chat, socialise and hear from a specially selected speaker. You won’t know who the speaker is beforehand – it could be an artist, a politician, an academic, an activist and so on – so you’ll have to trust that we’ll come up with someone interesting and inspiring. MAYK Salon’s will take place on the last Thursday of every month.

We’ll provide the space and the speaker, and all we ask is that you come along with an open mind, a positive attitude and a willingness to listen. The speaker will only speak for a short time (this isn’t a lecture series), and there’ll be plenty of opportunity for informal conversation and sharing.

We want MAYK Salons to be as open and accessible as possible, so we’re making them Pay What You Decide. At the end of the evening, we’ll have a bucket for your contributions, which will help us cover costs of the event. But of course if you can’t afford to contribute, that’s okay too.

This event isn’t just for people who work in ‘the arts’, so do bring a friend (or two). It’s important to us this event feels welcoming. If you’d like to come, but are worried you won’t know anyone, drop us a line and we’ll make sure we say hello and introduce you to other friendly faces.

And if you have any ideas or suggestions drop us a line at

Previous Salons 

The Space, Old Market; The Green Man, Kingsdown ; The Miner's Arms, St Werburghs; The Windmill, Windmill Hill.

Demostage is an informal, temporary space for new ideas. Open to people who make creative projects of any kind (think theatre, music, games, sound, whatever), the event encourages collaboration, sharing and critical discourse. Presenters show what they've been working on. Audiences ask questions and give feedback. It's not a scratch night. It's an informal event in a bar, inspired by software developers who meet up, drink and demo the programs they're working on. Everyone welcome.

Demostage is a concept created by Dustin Harvey's Secret Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dustin very kindly open-sourced the idea for us and we debuted Demostage Bristol at Mayfest 2016.  You can find out more about Secret Theatre here: