MAYK gathers new board members to help lead the way into the future

SESSION by Still House, Steppaz and Empire Sounds at the Nationl Theatre’s River Stage, August 2018

SESSION by Still House, Steppaz and Empire Sounds at the Nationl Theatre’s River Stage, August 2018

We are delighted to announce that Anna Starkey is to become our new Chair, alongside five additional new board members.

Anna Starkey is Chief Creative Officer of We The Curious, an interactive experience space and educational charity dedicated to building a culture of curiosity. Anna has worked across science and the arts, as a BAFTA nominated children's animation writer, UK Particle Physics outreach officer and Director of Impossible Projects at a multidisciplinary public neuroscience lab. She was freelance in TV for over a decade, as a script editor, voice director and writer, as well as producing the BBC Proms for TV, global live cinema broadcasts from the Royal Opera House London and Series producing BBC Young Dancer. She is a TEDx speaker and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Anna is also a trustee of the Paraorchestra and Friends.

She is joined on the board by five new board members, recruited from a national call.

  • David Hall, a partner at UK law firm Burges Salmon where he has led the litigation team for the past 9 years

  • Julia Head, an emerging Bristol-based theatre director and MAYK Young Programmer. She is Artistic Director of FullRogue.

  • Writer Nikesh Shukla (The One Who Wrote Destiny; editor of The Good Immigrant)

  • Simon Thompson, a Cultural Communications Consultant, who has spent more than a decade working in strategic communications across some of the UK’s most acclaimed cultural organisations including the Young Vic, Lyric Hammersmith and Royal Court theatres and the Science Museum.

  • Selina Thompson, an award-winning artist based in Birmingham. Selina makes intimate, participatory work centred around the politics of identity and how it shapes our lives. Along with Theatre Bristol and Yorkshire Festival, MAYK commissioned Selina’s acclaimed work salt. in 2016.

They join Professor of Screen Media at UWE, Jon Dovey and accountant Alison O’Neill alongside MAYK’s Directors Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin.

Anna Starkey said “If you’ve ever been to anything in Mayfest or worked with Matthew and Kate, you’ll immediately understand why anyone would be compelled to get involved with MAYK. They bring theatre into the world with such a generosity of spirit, and a rare crystal clear-sightedness of urgent, open, beautiful work - they are truly exciting.  There’s so much to celebrate in the 8 brilliant years of MAYK and I’m really looking forward to working with the board in supporting them into their next decade of making wonderful things happen.”

Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin said “We are thrilled to have assembled such an excellent group of brilliant brains to help us shape the next chapter of our organisation. Since we established our board in 2015, it has been transformative for organisation, providing rigorous challenge and provocation, advice and guidance. We’re particularly thankful to those who have recently stood down from the board, and we can’t wait to get stuck in with Anna and the new board members.”

In 2018 MAYK presented the fifteenth anniversary edition of Mayfest, with an acclaimed programme of work all over Bristol for eleven days. 2018 also saw the premiere of Still House’s SESSION (produced by MAYK) at LIFT, The Station in Bristol and the National Theatre, the premiere of Jo Bannon’s We Are F*cked at Arnolfini and Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival alongside The British Paraorchestra’s The Nature of Why which was also produced by MAYK, and the co-commissioning and presentation of RashDash’s Three Sisters, which won Best Touring Theatre at the UK Theatre Awards.

2019 will see a national tour of Caroline Williams and Reem Karssli’s Now Is The Time To Say Nothing, a second national tour of SESSION and the development of a number of new projects from Sleepdogs, Still House and Sam Halmarack.

MAYK is one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations and a Bristol City Council Cultural Investment Partner.

Looking back at 2018

It’s been a whomper of a year for us at MAYK. As we all swap emails and spreadsheets for mince pies and mulled wine, we thought it’d be nice to take a look back at the year

Undersong  by Verity Standen. Photo by Paul Blakemore

Undersong by Verity Standen. Photo by Paul Blakemore


We celebrated our fifteenth festival with 120 international, national and local artists, 7 premieres (including two home-grown beauties, Undersong by Verity Standen and The Nature of Why by the British Paraorchestra, both of which will continue to tour), hundreds of participants and thousands of audience members. For eleven days in May, Mayfest 2018 electrified the whole of Bristol, from the Cathedral, to The Cube. We’re already pulling together plans for 2020 – keep it here.

We Are Lightning  by Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) and Sam Halmarack. Photo by Paul Blakemore

We Are Lightning by Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) and Sam Halmarack. Photo by Paul Blakemore

Touring amazing international performance across England

In 2018 we reaffirmed our mission to bring excellent international theatre to audiences in Bristol and beyond. Our successful bid to Arts Council England's Strategic Touring Fund enabled us to present and tour three international participatory arts projects, following their UK premieres at Mayfest. Contact Gonzo, Theatre Replacement's Town Choir and We Are Lightning by Joseph O'Farrell (JOF) and Sam Halmarack toured to Gloucester, Weston-super-Mare and Folkestone connecting visionary artists with new audiences.

Three Sisters by RashDash

Three Sisters by RashDash

Three Sisters, by RashDash, after Chekov

In June, we worked with Tobacco Factory Theatres and Bristol Old Vic to bring Royal Exchange Associate Artists RashDash back to Bristol, with their exhilarating reimagined perspective on Chekov's Three Sisters. Described as a 'fizzily provocative romp that crackles with punk rock energy' by Time Out, RashDash reconceptualised this classic with new feminist dynamism. They also won the UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production, and was in Bristol 247’s top three theatre shows of 2018.

SESSION  – Still House, Steppaz, Empire Sounds. Photo by Paul Blakemore

SESSION – Still House, Steppaz, Empire Sounds. Photo by Paul Blakemore

SESSION by Still House

Still House's collaboration with Steppaz Performing Arts Academy and Empire Sounds, SESSION, kicked up a storm at LIFT, The Station in Bristol, and the National Theatre River Stage. Part-gig, part-social, part-dance party, SESSION welcomed anyone and everyone to celebrate community, youth, and belonging with a barnstorming battle cry. SESSION was one of Bristol247’s top three dance shows of 2018. It will tour again in 2019.

“beyond impressive.” ★★★★★ To Do List London

We Are F*cked –  Jo Bannon

We Are F*cked – Jo Bannon

We Are F*cked by Jo Bannon

Together with Unlimited, we worked with Jo Bannon to create her new electric performance work, We Are F*cked, exploring desire, sexuality and neoliberalism.

Arnolfini hosted the premiere before performances at Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre. This work will continue to tour in 2019.

Now Is The Time To Say Nothing –  Caroline Williams

Now Is The Time To Say Nothing – Caroline Williams

Looking ahead to 2019

In spring 2019, Caroline Williams and Reem Karssli’s Now Is The Time To Say Nothing will tour the UK, starting with performances at Bristol Old Vic in February. We’ll also be touring SESSION, We Are F*cked next year, and there’s still lots to be announced.


This year we said goodbye to two brilliant people, Jane Sallis and Brian Davis of Firebird Theatre. We along with so many people have been touched by their humour and warmth and profoundly moved by their firm belief in the power of theatre to change lives. We miss them.

“Imagine a bird of fire, like gold, like sun, blazing, burning. Imagine a Firebird, that speaks of power, tells of hope, a light in the dark, a spark of imagination, and the beginning of another story” – from A Spark and a Beating Heart by Firebird Theatre, 2017

Brian Clifford Davis

Today, we are remembering Brian Clifford Davis, whose life we celebrated alongside family and friends at a service today at Canford Crematorium in Bristol.

Brian passed away in the company of his beloved family on the 27 June 2018. He was 73 years old.

I’ve tried a couple of times to write something about Brian, and have faltered. The inadequacy of words in trying to capture a sense of a person, a feeling, a memory, feels strong. Such a dissonance. I think Brian would know what I mean. In the absence of words, with Brian, there would always be a hug.

We work as producers with Firebird Theatre, a completely wonderful ensemble of theatre makers with disabilities. Brian was a member of the company for many years and latterly a trustee. We got to know him, and to consider him a friend specifically through our collaborations on The Breadhorse and A Spark and A Beating Heart. In both of these productions Brian twinkled throughout. Light and dark in the catch of a breath. He was magnetic to watch.

And we will remember him like that. And we will remember his smile, his wit, his playfulness, his heart. His truth. Brian was very funny, and very honest.

So when we talk about the importance of kindness and openness, as we do, in the ongoing pursuit of being goodin what we do… Brian will remain an example of that. He lived that. He just did.

When I was small I fell in love with the rain.When it rained and mum couldn’t find me she only had to look out the window and there I was, outside, soaking wet, loving the rain
— From A Spark and a Beating Heart

It hasn’t rained much recently, Brian. We wish it would. And it will always make us think of you, and smile.

Thank you

Kate and all at MAYK