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29th July – Speaker Information

Ross Willis

Ross’s debut play WOLFIE premiered to great critical acclaim at the Theatre503 in March 2019 directed by the theatre’s artistic director Lisa Spirling. The play received a host of 4* reviews across the board (The Times, The Stage, Time Out, Evening Standard) setting him out as “a fresh and fearless voice” in British theatre. The play was named Best New Play at both the Writers’ Guild Awards and the Off-West End Awards 2020 and also earnt Ross a nomination for Best Writer in the 2019 Stage Debut Awards and Most Promising Playwright in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. WONDER BOY is set to premier at the Bristol Old Vic directed by Sally Cookson. Ross is under commission to the Royal Court as part of their Jerwood New Playwrights Programme. Ross was also selected as one of the seven writers to take part in the inaugural Genesis Almeida New Playwrights Big Plays programme, for whom he is writing his next play. The Royal Court Theatre and TV producers Kudos awarded him a writing fellowship to develop a script for television and at the end of 2019 Ross was awarded a Channel 4 Playwright Scheme bursary and spent 2020 on attachment at the Orange Tree Theatre writing a new play. He contributed a series of monologues for HEAR ME NOW, a book of monologues for diverse actors, and he collaborated with Arcola Youth Theatre on the play WE MAKE FIRE. He has previously been on attachment at the Bristol Old Vic, writer-in-residence at Theatr Clwyd, a member of the Orange Tree Theatre’s Writers’ Collective, Tamasha Playwrights Group, Soho Theatre Writer’s Lab and the BBC Writersroom Writers’ Access Group. Ross took part in the writer’s room for a new show created by Stephen Merchant for Big Talk Productions and is developing his own original telly ideas alongside his next couple of play ideas.

Sally Cookson

Sally Cookson trained at LAMDA and worked as an actor for ten years before embarking on a freelance directing career. She has worked on productions for theatres including the Old Vic London, the Bristol Old Vic, the National Theatre, the Duke of York’s and the Rose Theatre Kingston. Most recently Sally has directed A Monster Calls at The Old Vic, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe at The Bridge Theatre and Peter Pan at The National Theatre. She is an associate artist at BOV where productions include Jane Eyre, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Papa Please Get the Moon for Me, Clown, Strange Case, Pericles, Pains of Youth, The Visit. Her numerous collaborations with Travelling Light theatre include Strictly Balti by Saikat Ahammed, The Ugly Duckling Ugly Duckling Devised based on Hans Christian Anderson, Boing!, How Cold My Toes, Shadowplay, Cloudland Devised based on the book by John Burningham, Lenny by Francis Monty, Bob the Man on the Moon Devised based on the book by Simon Bartram.


Nikki is Theatre Alibi’s Artistic Director. She is chair of Exeter Culture and is on the steering group for Exeter UNESCO City of Literature. Nikki has also directed for Theatr Clwyd Outreach and Platform 4 and taught at Exeter University Drama Department. Shows she has directed for Theatre Alibi include Down to Earth, St Thomas Story Tours, I Believe in Unicorns, Falling, Table Mates, Apple John, Goucher’s War, The Crowstarver, Olive & the Dream Train, Mucky Pup, The Ministry of Fear, Cabbage Heart, Deep Down Cowboys, Cobbo, Spies, High Muck-a- Muck, Teapot, Caught, One in a Million, Lost & Found, Bonjour Bob, Why the Whales Came, Teapot, Little White Lies, Shelf Life, The Night Before Christmas (an RSC commission), The Swell, and Birthday.


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