Jeni is the Artistic Director of fingersmiths, a visual physical
theatre company working with deaf and hearing actors in British Sign Language and spoken English. Working with the 20th century canon of modern classic plays, Jeni adds a fingersmiths spin both linguistically, by working in BSL and artistically by introducing Deaf cultural elements, thus making the plays relevant to 21st century audiences. Recent productions, Up n Under by John Godber (New Wolsey Theatre co production) and Frozen by Bryony Lavery (Birmingham Rep co-production), toured nationally playing to sold out houses and were critically well received.
She is also a qualified sign language interpreter who specialises in the performing arts.
Jodi is a theatre maker and practitioner and is the Creative Learning Director at Graeae Theatre Company.
She trained in Contemporary Arts (Drama and Film) at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. She performed and produced shows in Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne Fringe Festivals, which led her to career-building experiences in community arts, alternative education and disability arts as a project leader and arts facilitator.
Jodi is passionate about theatre with communities, children and young people and developing new work alongside disabled artists. She has worked on projects in Pakistan and Sri Lanka establishing creative education programmes for young people and inclusive training for local artists.
She also leads Graeae’s Ensemble programme for theatremakers in partnership with London’s drama schools and arts organisations, building the sector’s capacity to offer high quality training and employment for D/deaf and disabled artists.
Rachel trained in theatre in her home town of Liverpool. After some years lecturing in dance at Middlesex University, programming the dance at Islington Arts Factory and working as a freelance theatre practitioner, she was introduced to Chickenshed Theatre Company, where she was appointed Associate Director in 1998.
As a director at Chickenshed, Rachel works with large and small casts of diverse groups of young people and adults. Her work uses text and movement with clear story-telling and strong imagery. She draws on the personal history of her actors for inspiration. In 2013 she wrote and directed All I’ve Known combining verbatim and physical theatre styles to produce a successful touring piece for Chickenshed. Barnardo’s went on to use All I’ve Known for training and awareness days for their social workers and new foster parents. She is also the Creative Director of Chickenshed’s The Space Between Us Programme.
Rachel has recently worked at The Finborough Theatre on Spokesong, directed alongside Chris Bond at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, and continues her creative relationship with the acclaimed director Dougal Wilson on award winning adverts and music videos. She is a regular lecturer at Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts, and works with the Acting Ensemble groups at the Arts Depot, Finchley.