Created with Sketch.Created with Sketch.Created with Sketch.

Monday, 31 July 2023

See You On The Other Side

Photo by Mark Howe

See you on the other side.

That’s what we say to each other before a show. Our own ritual. Or perhaps we should say, said. That’s what we said to each other before a show. Because that’s it. Third Angel has ceased trading.

We’ve been really busy dealing with the legal, logistical and ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we could’ to-do lists in the run up to this hard deadline. And we haven’t got everything we wanted to do done, of course. The legal stuff will carry on for a few more months, but 31 July marks the end of our activity as a company. So this is a fairly practical final blogpost. Any more reflective thoughts on what it was like to close the company will have to come later.

We’ve made as much of our work available for free as we can. On this site you find show texts for:

The Paradise Project
Inherited Cities
The Lad Lit Project
Cape Wrath

The Life & Loves of a Nobody
600 People

There are full length videos up of

The Life & Loves of a Nobody
600 People
The Lad Lit Project
Cape Wrath
Hang Up

What I Heard About the World


9 Billion Miles From Home

There’s this great song from Partus.

There are short films and performances for camera and short documentations in The Film Room, including Realtime and With The Light On, which we’ve never put online before.

The scripts of Where From Here, Presumption, What I Heard About the World and The Department of Distractions continue to be available digitally on Drama Online and physically and as ebooks from Bloomsbury.

Our physical archive has been donated to the Theatre Collection at the University of Bristol. Once they have catalogued it, it will be accessible to the public and included in their online database. Their full collection is amazing and we are pleased and humbled to be part of it.

We are delighted have secured a future for Future Makers with Sharrow Community Forum, so the young people can continue to create and explore in their beloved new home of the Highfield Adventure Playground.


Thank you. Thank you to all of you collaborators, team, audiences, participants, partners, funders and supporters. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to make and share the shows and activities with you all. We have learned so much. We’re proud of what we have achieved - and we couldn’t have done it without you. 

We’re looking forward to new adventures - adventures we can only embark on because of what we have been able to do for the last 28 years.

Thank you.

Take care.

See you on the other side.

In December we said a fond farewell to our Exec Director Laura Holmes, as she moved on to an exciting and challenging new full-time role. Laura applied her formidable organisational, analytical and strategic skills with thoughtfulness, tenacity, good humour. 

Thank you Laura, for the systems you devised, the order you created, and the values you embodied. Not forgetting the next-level spreadsheet formulae, the music, and of course the cake! We’re very definitely missing you already.

These are the thoughts she left with us to share.

 How do you evaluate the life of a General Manager*? Let me count the ways…

After 4 years with the company, I’ll be handing back my keys and my laptop and closing the door for one last time today. It’s been a uniquely challenging period for Third Angel. I joined just after their brilliantly ambitious performance Inherited Cities, a piece devised and co-created with more than 50 young Sheffielders, and before their hugely successful 3 week run of The Department of Distractions at the Crucible Studio at the start of 2019. 

Excavating my desk revealed those bits of paper that someone handed me when I started because they didn’t want to throw them away

Much of the rest of that year was spent preparing for a national tour of The Department due to take place in March 2020… Having to cancel half of that tour was a crushing blow, but the impacts of the pandemic on our families, our loved ones and the sector, have been deeper and more wide-ranging than any of us could have imagined at that point. The reverberations are still being felt. Nevertheless, I’m super proud of how we have supported each other through these challenging times.

But for me personally, the other ingredient bubbling in the pot over the past couple of years has been my increasing awareness of the urgency and importance of addressing the interconnected issues of social justice and climate justice. When the opportunity arose to work with one of the organisations whose writing and thinking had been inspiring me (MAIA Group in Birmingham, you can read more about their approach here), it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

 So how DO you evaluate the life of an Executive Director or General Manager?

·       In business plans? In a period of unprecedented uncertainty, it felt like we were constantly being asked to write new business plans; an exercise of the imagination that stretched even the most creative members of the team. Maybe we’ve only written 4 in that time, but it felt like a LOT more!

·       In funding applications? Since bringing the fundraising activity in-house in 2019, I’ve personally written 29 funding bids. 9 of these were successful, which approximated to around £40k in trusts and foundations support for our work with young people and community groups. A 30% success rate feels pretty good to me.

I’m going to miss my commute along the Sheaf. Over the last 4 years I’ve seen mallards, moorhens, yellow wagtails, a family of Mandarin ducklings, herons, kingfishers and a dipper (once!) on this little stretch

·       In recruitment? In just four years, we’ve done seven different rounds of recruitment, resulting in five new staff (some on fixed term contracts so not all at the same time) and five new trustees. At one point at the end of 2021, we had eight staff members, the biggest the Third Angel team has ever been.

·       In board papers? Looking at our files, we have created a whopping 656 Board papers in the 4 years since I joined! Allowing for duplicates, agendas and papers written by other members of the team, I think it’s likely I’ve written between 2-300 papers for our Board during that time. Phew!

Actually, the measure that I care about most doesn’t really lend itself to being counted. I’d love to be evaluated by how the team have felt about working for Third Angel during the time that I’ve been here. I guess you’d have to ask them…

*and latterly Executive Director

Well, as she asked: the team felt they were in safe, reliable, wise and friendly hands! We wish Laura the very best as she deploys her outstanding talents with MAIA Group, and look forward to watching them go from strength to strength.


We hope she doesn’t mind us using this Slightly Serious portrait, but we have a shocking dearth of images of Laura!

Friday, 2 December 2022

Social Justice Commitments

Since the summer of 2020, the team at Third Angel have individually and collectively been listening, learning and reflecting on how racism continues to impact upon our sector and our society, and the role that we can play in making positive change. These conversations have largely been taking place behind the scenes, and it is time we started to share where our learning has taken us and how we see this work continuing.

During this time, we have received training from brap and MA Consultancy; explored the Race at Work Charter, Race Equality Code and Inc Arts Unlock toolkit; established an Equity Working Group led by our trustees; reviewed and updated all of our recruitment paperwork and processes for both staff and trustees; appointed four new trustees bringing new perspectives into our decision making; given time to thinking about and discussing the role we want to play when others in our sector experience discrimination and injustice, and how we can learn from the mistakes of other organisations.

Our conversations around racial equity have inevitably led to us thinking more about the experiences of people with other marginalised identities: those who are d/Deaf or disabled, or who identify as LGBTQ+. So although our focus over the last two years has very much been on issues of race, the outcome has been a sharpening and refocusing of the company’s values and beliefs around social justice as a whole. The first step that we are going take in communicating our journey is to share our Social Justice Commitments

This statement reflects a shift in our approach. We understand that striving for equality or equal opportunities is not sufficient to make the changes we believe are needed in society, we need to step up and challenge the structures that uphold racism and other forms of oppression. This means striving for equity, advocating for social justice and taking specific actions on our journey to being an anti-racist, disability and neurodiversity positive, and trans-inclusive organisation. We are taking, and will continue to take, time to read, listen, learn and digest the experiences and knowledge of those whose experiences are different to ours. This is a long term commitment to change, for our organisation, our leadership and our practice.

We welcome your feedback and invite you to hold us to account on these commitments as we continue to learn.



·      to be an anti-racist organisation – this is an active position that requires us to take action to dismantle the structures that uphold racism and is different to being passively ‘not racist’

·      to be disability / neurodiversity positive

·      to create welcoming inclusive spaces, where people feel safe to be their authentic selves, where conversations about race and other aspects of identity are normalised and encouraged, and where everyone feels able to ask for what they need in order to do their best work

·      to send a clear message about who is welcome in our organisation

·      to have a wider range of perspectives and experiences in our discussions and decision making

·      to understand what we might be doing (or not doing) that could make some people feel as though our work / our organisation is not for them

·      to approach our work that is targeted at marginalised or underrepresented groups in a way that is ‘with not for’, prioritising co-production / collaboration in the design and delivery of activities


·      reflect on whose voices we are amplifying and why

·      identify the places and times where we need to slow down, interrogate our biases and structural advantages, and be mindful and honest about the reasons behind the decisions that we make

·      create more opportunities to work with people with global majority heritage as peers and mentors, rather than as recipients of services

·      create regular opportunities to hold each other to account

·      ensure that no-one is made to feel that their contribution or presence is tokenistic, or that they are being expected to be representative of anyone other than themselves

·      seek feedback from a wider range of sources about how we present ourselves / who feels included or excluded by our presentation


·      that we will need to take more risks than we are comfortable with

·      that we are sometimes going to get things wrong and be honest and transparent when this happens

·      that this may be disruptive to our normal working practice, but that long term genuine change will take time and hard work

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Watching the Detectives (again)

I’m really pleased to have a set of ‘artists pages’ in the latest edition of the journal Performance Research: Undercover (Volume 26, Issue 8)

Watching the Detectives is a case file, documenting our research into The Department of Distractions, through the show of the same name, its forerunner O Grande Livro dos Pequenos Detalhes (The Great Book of Tiny Details) and the sequel play-at-home-game, The Distraction Agents(It takes its name of course from both the Elvis Costello song, and a previous blogpost about The Department of Distractions).

Particular thanks to Fraser Stevens and James Harding for commissioning the piece, and to Becci Curtis for sterling support as always. And thanks to the support of Leeds Beckett University,Watching the Detectives is available as a free download here.

The final run of The Distraction Agents is available now, to play yourself or send as a gift! Click here for more information.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Jim McDonnell

It is with great sadness that we share the news that one of our Trustees, Jim McDonnell, has passed away. He had been seriously ill for the last few months and died on the morning of Monday 26 September. We’ve been told he went the way he lived, with quiet grace.

Jim was a Legal Director at DLA Piper Global Law Firm, specialising in intellectual property. He brought this expertise as a Trustee and had been part of the Third Angel family since June 2018. So, obviously Jim had a mean eye for contracts. He had an enquiring mind, would drill down on various points during board meetings and hold us to account. He always did this with good humour. He was firm but fair, honest but kind.

However, Jim was much more than a Trustee, he was a dear friend and he has left a big hole in our hearts. He had a dry sense of humour, with a twinkle in his eye. Playing any kind of strategic board game (he loved playing games, so fitted in very well at Third Angel) was almost impossible, as you knew you were doomed to lose. He was always one step ahead and had the whole thing figured out while you were still trying to work out what was going on.

He leaves behind his wife Laura, whom he loved very much, their cat Fran, and whole host of friends.

We will miss him hugely, of course as a diligent and always supportive Trustee who gave such valuable input and expertise, but more because he was so much fun to spend time with. 
Jess O’Neill, Trustee, Vice-Chair
Jim was a dedicated Trustee, always inputting his ideas to the charity during meetings and on the Staff & Trustee Away Days. But more than just a Trustee in meetings, Jim was a pleasure to socialise with on the annual Third Angel Christmas Parties, especially having fun and playing games together at the Board Game Cafe. I will remember Jim’s jokes, his laugh, and his kindness in supporting others and the team. 
Sarah Sharpe, Trustee

We will miss you Jim, your final bow was far too soon.


Friday, 7 October 2022

Meet Abi, Future Makers Photographer

If you’ve been following our social media closely you might recognise some of the images below. We’ve been keen to get some pictures of our Future Makers theatre workshops in action, but there’s rarely time to think about the finer points of lighting and framing in between facilitating the activity. So we were lucky to bring Abi Ward on as Residential Photographer for the sessions in Spring. The photographs are of such quality and quantity, we’ve been using them for all kinds of posts!
Abi’s headed of to university soon, so we wanted to invite her to share her experiences before moving on…

Jon Fry, Projects & Communications Co-ordinator 

Hiya, I’m Abi, a Sheffield based photographer, and I was the Residential Photographer for Future Makers. 

Working with the Future Makers project has been such an enjoyable and lovely experience! When I first started coming to the sessions I was still at college and quite new to the photography industry. Previously I had been Social Media Manager for Sculpt Community, volunteered for FURD, and done photography for weddings, headshots, and local gyms.

A family gathered outside with a young performer dressed in camouflaged clothes

I have always been a creative person and enjoy being part of anything creative, so I think that is what first attracted me to being part of Future Makers. I first found out about Future Makers from a family member who got me in touch with Stacey. I then came along to a session in March where I got to meet everyone and they were all so welcoming. Usually when I am at an event or session like this almost everyone becomes super aware of the camera and I notice people trying to subtly pose, or they seem to stare a lot and watch for the camera coming in their direction. However, the kids at the session were unfazed which I enjoyed seeing as it allowed me to capture candid photos of the kids and session leaders interacting with each other. 

This is probably what I enjoy most about photography, being able to capture those natural moments we often miss or don’t notice. From there I was asked to come back for more sessions till the end of the project which I was very thankful for. Although I wasn’t there for every session, I still got to see how the kids changed and grew as they developed their work. I enjoy being on the sidelines and being able to capture those special moments and the journeys that people go through.

5 young people sat on a climbing wall, laughing at something in the distance

Previously, I hadn’t really had any jobs like this. Mainly I had experience in more editorial photography and sports. This was quite different as I found myself having to look at the wider picture as well as the small details. There was often a lot going on in the sessions and capturing this was always fun, but also quite different as it meant having to get all that was going on in one shot. Working as Residential Photographer for these sessions has really taught me a lot technically but has also helped me expand my experiences, as before I had only really worked with adults or people my age. This wasn’t that much different but definitely gave me a new perspective when taking photos as I wanted to capture the kids’ personalities the best I could. 

11 young people sat and stood against a wall of graffiti, the logo for "Future Makers S7" at the centre

In the past I have really enjoyed working with community projects and being able to capture the amazing work that they do and it was great to be able to do this for the Future Makers project - which makes me sad to go! Although I have a long way to go on my photography journey as I leave for university, the Future Makers project has really helped me develop my passion for this type of work and working in my local community.

(UPDATE Jan 2023 -  We are not currently looking for new trustees.)

People. Places. Performance.

Do you want to change people’s minds about what theatre can be?

Third Angel is a theatre company led by founding Artistic Directors Rachael Walton and Alexander Kelly. We make shows and participatory events that tell stories, ask questions and invite conversations. We aim to create collective experiences that reflect and interrogate the ways in which we live in the world that surrounds us, now and in the future. We believe everyone should be able to access the arts and are committed to trying to break down the barriers, whatever they may be.

Future Makers 11 Session 4 - credit Abi Ward

Young People creating a performance as part of Future Makers S7 2022 - photo Abi Ward

Our values guide our decision making and how we operate and work with others. Third Angel is:

  • Innovative and experimental
  • Playful
  • Collaborative
  • Open and transparent
  • Trusting
  • Inclusive, accessible and anti-racist
  • Socially and environmentally responsible

We are looking to recruit two new trustees who will champion our values and bring different perspectives, skills and life experiences to our Board. We are committed to having a broad range of voices at the top of our organisation – different ages, different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, D/deaf and disabled voices, LGBTQ+ voices – to ensure that our strategic thinking and decision making remain creative, lively and balanced.

No previous Board experience is necessary, as training and support will be given where needed. 

The Desire Paths Slough Nisha and Gillian - Credit Terry Payman

Nisha Anil & Gillian Lees working on the Slough Desire Paths’ Map 2019 - Photography Terry Payman

We are looking for:

» People with good financial management skills
» Community leaders and advocates, particularly those with connections to Sharrow & Nether Edge (S7)
» Marketing, communications or public relations (PR) professionals
» Leaders or influencers in the arts sector

Please contact for more details about the role or an informal chat.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Liliya Signing Off

As Future Makers S7 (2021-22) draws to a close with the end of term, so does Liliya’s time with us. Back in October we were very happy to welcome her into the newly created role of Trainee Community Producer, which was made possible by the government’s Kickstart Scheme. When this finished after six months we offered her a freelance part-time contract, so she could see through the projects she was involved in.
It’s been great having her as part of our Third Angel family and we will be sad to see her go. We’ll miss her fabulously bright trousers, explosive and catching laugh, enthusiasm, and especially her weekly video diaries (all of which have now been compiled into two longer videos - see bottom of this post!)
We’ll still be at the end of the phone, emailing news of jobs and following her future travels.
So over to Liliya as she reflects on her time with us and lets you know what’s coming next.

Rachael Walton, Co-Artistic Director & CEO

A professional headshot of Liliya

Oh me, oh my!

As much as everyone in the office has been talking about and planning a leaving social in July over the last few months, it still feels surreal to be writing my leaving post for Third Angel. Looking back at my introductory blog post it feels like I’m reading into somebody else’s mind entirely. Now, nine months on, I feel more like myself than I have in quite some time: more open, more grounded and more confident in myself. I can undoubtedly say that being a part of the Third Angel team has played a turning point in how I witness my own capacity and capability, and the value I have as a human being, let alone in a professional or creative setting.

Liliya performing on stage, looking off to the distance

There have been many moments during my time as a Trainee Community Producer which have been full of illumination, joy, and heart-warmth both inside and out of the office:

- I can’t miss out the final performance of the Future Makers participants (just how much energy they all brought to that show!) and all the feedback from friends and family expressing their gratitude for the opportunity we worked to facilitate for the young people was especially tear-jerking. 

- I’ve found our collaborations with Side by Side especially moving, and profound, and mind-opening in how I make space for, lead and create with others. I’m hoping to continue my relationship with Johanna and the group after my time with Third Angel ends!

A feedback form written in blue ink: I really love our Third Angel drama club. So encouraging. We share feelings, emotions, performance together. We have fun together. We are shining our life. Keep happy. Smiling face. Kisses. Autumn 2021. 

- I will be endlessly grateful for all the encouragement and mindful reminders/perspective shifts I was given (I’m sure Rachael alone can attest to a ridiculous number of times she’s had to stop me from being too self-critical of my Video Diaries). 

An accidental selfie of Liliya in the office, frowning 

As I wrote in my intro blog post, I came into this position holding very high standards over myself, which I’ve had to address and begin to soften during my time with Third Angel. Then there was the disruption that Covid brought in the winter, where I had a steep learning curve of how to work from home which proved to be more challenging and stress-inducing than I had thought. Most recently, after extending my position by three months I’ve had to quickly adjust and learn what it means to be a freelancer: from managing my workload and working to flexible hours, to how to invoice! So it’s definitely not been a smooth ride, but I’m happy I learned so much about myself through the work I’ve done along the way. 

Flash cards of words in different languages laid out on the floor

Even with these difficulties and through some personally emotional points in my placement, the team was overwhelmingly understanding, supportive and flexible. All the shared snacks (i.e. delicious and suspiciously addictive vegan cupcakes), teas-and perhaps a few too many coffees-brewed, and wisdoms shared in car rides or spoken over laptops throughout the past few months have filled me with so much warmth. The relationships I have made with each member of staff over my time have been very precious to me, and I know I’ll look back on my time with Third Angel with love and gratitude.

Of course, I’ll miss everyone in the team and [insert any other leaving cliché saying here]. Luckily, I don’t get to say farewell permanently yet, as I’ve become an observer of the board for a year to help me get to grips with how a board of a company functions before I move to Australia next year! I’m excited to hear how the company grows, and how their ideas become incredible projects and to still see familiar faces from a more distanced role over the next glimpse of time.

It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you very soon, 


Liliya sat on a very small chair, surrounded by confetti

Lililya’s Diary Compilation Part 1

Lililya’s Diary Compilation Part 2

There's lots more information about making and touring Third Angel projects 2008-2017 on our original blog, and 2017-2023 on the blog on this site.