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Thursday, 26 November 2020

Remembering Professor Noel Witts

We were deeply saddened this week to hear of the death of Professor Noel Witts. Noel was one of Third Angel’s first board members, and remained a friend of the company long after he stepped down. Alex knew him best, as a member of the Performing Arts department at Leeds Beckett University that Noel did so much to shape. Here’s Alex’s tribute. 

I first met Noel in the late 1990s. We were both on a selection panel for the New Works Festival in Leicester. Third Angel had only been in existence for two or three years, and I was very pleased and slightly daunted to be on the other side of the programming table. Also on the panel was Noel Witts, who I hadn’t previously met, but who I knew was an important and influential academic. Due to the logistics of the day and availability of other panel members, Noel and I ended up having lunch together, in a restaurant around the corner from The Y Theatre, which was to be one of the sites for the festival.
Initially, I think, I was slightly intimidated. But there was no need to be. My abiding memory of the conversation that ran through lunch and into our work in the afternoon, is of Noel’s generosity of thought. He was genuinely interested in who I was, who Third Angel was, where I was from – Sheffield – what was going on there in the world of performance, what I thought of the job he and I were doing that day, what work I thought we should be selecting and supporting.
In the years that followed I learned that this was typical of Noel. As a performance academic what he was most interested in was what artists themselves had to say about how they made theatre and performance. His outlook was fiercely international, and his interests were people, performance and conversation. I worked with him a number of times in the following years in Scarborough, where his welcome and conversation were always as generous as the first time we met.
Noel was instrumental in establishing the Performing Arts provision at Leeds Beckett University, which I joined as a part-time lecturer as it welcomed its first cohort in 2006. It was a privilege to work alongside him. His enthusiasm was infectious. Whenever he was teaching, or seeing students’ work, he always saw the positives first: he was encouraging, supportive and inspiring.
We were delighted that Noel then joined the board of Third Angel, bringing with him his wisdom, enthusiasm and sense of humour. Even after he had completed his years on the board, he continued to be a great supporter of the company and we will always be grateful for that. We are richer for having known him, and we will miss him.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Jobs Jobs Jobs!

We’re really excited to announce that we are creating two new short-term opportunities to join the Third Angel team. Could you be just the person we’re looking for? You will bring your experience and insight to help us to meet the challenges of the ‘new normal’ and shape our strategy for the next five years.

Our new Community Producer will work closely with our Artistic Directors to find new ways for Third Angel to enable people to express their own creativity, find their voice and tell their stories. We’re looking for an experienced arts practitioner who is passionate about the power of creativity to transform lives.

Inherited Cities group selfie

Inherited Cities 2018 Photograph JSP Photography

The Digital Marketing Manager will help make the most of our digital platforms and ensure that our online presence is as innovative and engaging as our live work. We’re looking for an experienced marketing professional with a wealth of digital knowledge, a love of data, strong copywriting skills and an excellent eye for design. 

Still from Phone Company (2017)

Both positions are part-time (2 days a week) for 6 months, with a salary of £866/month (£26,000 p/a full time equivalent). 

There’s a short turnaround for applications, so time is of the essence! The closing date for both posts is 10am on Wednesday 2 December 2020 and interviews will be held on 14, 15 or 16 December (tbc).

You can download the Information Packs below. If you have any questions please email us on mail@thirdangel.co.uk, or if it would be helpful to have an informal chat you can call us on 0114 274 4974 or 07592 669167.

Click here for the Community Producer

Click here for the Digital Marketing Manager

We’re looking forward to reading your application!  

In March 2020, in the middle of the tour of The Department of Distractions, we took what at the time seemed like a difficult decision to cancel the rest of the performances for that month. Difficult because cancelling shows is the opposite of what we exist for, and The Department of Distractions feels to us like a timely show that we are really proud of, and which has been connecting strongly with audiences in each venue it has travelled to.

But it felt wrong to put our cast in the position where they were going to have to continue to travel long distances on public transport, and we felt a social responsibility not to encourage people to gather in a theatre. So we made the decision, even though we were gutted that the show would not get to meet audiences in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge. We’re sorry if you were hoping to see the show in one of those cities. It’s not the same of course, but the script is available here.

Sadly we also had to cancel the last two workshops of Future Makers ’20, which had been going brilliantly at Theatre Deli and Sheffield Hallam Uni in the previous weeks. After making these decisions, though, it became clear that much of the rest of our industry was thinking along similar lines, and very quickly more seasons and tours were being cancelled or postponed.

After making these announcements, we gathered all of our free-to-watch video work together in our Film Room, to make it easier for our audiences to access. We’ve also started getting these projects captioned – we’ll be adding more soon.

Since then we have also had to cancel the remaining performances of 600 People in May and October, and cancel the next planned outings of The Desire Paths in Rotherham and Bedford this summer and autumn. We hope that many of these gigs will be rescheduled for next year. We have paused work on the next touring show for theatres, originally planned for early 2021.

We’ve been taking stock, and planning for the immediate future. Our priorities for the rest of 2020 are:

  • to ensure that the company survives, and is able to continue to create artistic and participation projects in the future.
  • to support the emotional and physical welfare of our staff and their families.
  • taking the opportunities for learning.
  • supporting freelance artists and the wider Third Angel family.
  • planning activity in response to the new cultural and social landscape.

As a company fortunate enough to be in Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, and eligible for the government’s furlough scheme, we will be able to survive the year. By furloughing all salaried staff, at different times, during the spring and summer, we will be able to ensure that we have the resources to employ some of our freelance team on new projects in the autumn and at the start of 2021.

After some re-working, we are very pleased to still be running Arts Award, in collaboration with Growtheatre and Stacey Sampson.

We’re heavily involved in Making Room with other Sheffield companies, with the aim of supporting the wider community of Sheffield artists and freelancers.

Over the next few months the company will be fairly quiet, with only one or two of us at work most of the time. We’ll be back ready for new projects in autumn 2020 and spring 2021, and also thinking longer term about what performance and theatre can do to help in a post-Covid-19 world.

We’ll keep you posted on our plans here.

Thanks for reading, stay safe,

The Third Angel Team

We’re really excited to share the news that we are creating a new permanent role within the Third Angel office team. After working with fantastic marketing freelancers for many years, we’ve decided that it’s time to bring these responsibilities and expertise into our core team and recruit a part-time Marketing Assistant. 

We’re looking for someone enthusiastic and full of ideas, with a great eye for detail. You will have some experience of marketing, publicity or press but this doesn’t have to have been via paid employment, You’ll find everything else you need to know about the job in the Applicant Pack, and you’ll find a download link at the bottom of this post. 

We want our staff team to be representative of the diversity of the UK population and are keen to receive applications from people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and from those who identify as D/deaf or disabled. 

Still from documentation of Standing Alone, Standing Together 2005

If you’re considering an application, here’s a few helpful tips to get you started: 

  • First of all, read the Information Pack carefully. Is this the right role for you?
  • Remember that we get lots of applications when we’re recruiting, so anyone who cannot show that they meet EVERY ONE of the essential criteria is very unlikely to be shortlisted.  
  • Make sure you have taken time to tell us HOW you meet each one of the points of the essential criteria, (and as many of the desirable criteria you can), by giving examples. Don’t assume that this will be obvious to us from reading your employment or education history, make it absolutely clear. However, there is no need to write pages and pages – bullet points and concise sentences are much more effective, especially when we have lots of applications to look at.
  • Where we have asked for specific experience, this doesn’t just mean employment experience. You could use examples from your hobbies, voluntary work, social life, family or school / college / university to demonstrate that you understand what skills are likely to be needed and have dipped your toe in.
  • Attention to detail is important, as it is our first indication that you have got what it takes to do the job! Use a spell check, make sure you have completed ALL the required forms, and follow the instructions to the letter!

Rachael Walton in The Life & Loves of a Nobody 2014

The closing date for applications is 10am on Monday 23 March and interviews will be held on Monday 6 April 2020. Unfortunately, we’re unable to be flexible on the interview date so please ensure you would be able to attend on that date.  

You can download the Applicant Pack here. If you have any questions please email us on mail@thirdangel.co.uk or if it would be helpful to have an informal chat you can call us on 0114 274 4974 and ask for me (Laura, General Manager) or Hilary (Executive Producer).

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Staging The Wreckage

Chris Thorpe and I have a new article in the journal Performance Research: Staging The Wreckage. It’s a lovely volume, and includes contributions from friends and colleagues including Rhiannon Jones, Michael Pinchbeck and Bridget Escolme. Edited by Gianna Bouchard and Patrick Duggan, the volume explores ways of, and reasons for, staging different forms of wreckage.


As soon as I saw the call for contributions, I knew I wanted to submit something about Parts For Machines That Do Things, our 2008 show about air-crash investigation.

Chris and I had an email conversation about the fragmentary making process of the show, and then I assembled the six pages as a collage of model plane parts, our email conversation and extracts of Chris’ text for the show. The final version is published as “A Piece Of Metal: Parts Of Third Angel’s Parts Of Machines That Do Things”. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. 

You can download a pdf of the article (for free for the first 50 people) here.

In making the pages we generated more material than we had space for, of course. Here are a couple of extra images that I liked that we didn’t use, along with a brief extract from mine and Chris’ email correspondence.


ALEX: I remember that we just talked a lot to start with. We made a long list of things that the show was about.

CHRIS: I remember I used to be terrified of flying. And then I read a book about air-crash investigation. And it cured me. I remember the terror switched to awe at the complexity of the planes and the global systems that operated them.


CHRIS: We knew the thing we were re/constructing was a show, but there was no original version of it (that had smashed into the ground, or landed on water, or suddenly and violently depressurised) to work towards. And we could always make new wreckage to fill any holes that appeared. 

ALEX: After a week in our studio in Sheffield, we did a couple of work-in-progress showings with BAC, in Edinburgh and London. Each time we presented a different selection and order, picking a different route through our constructed debris. 


Big thanks to Gianna and Patrick for commissioning the piece.

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