Playing Up was originally founded by four people:
Darian Nelson first appeared on stage at the age of eight and was playing Shakespeare roles by thirteen. He studied English and Drama at King Alfred’s College, University of Winchester, where he ran The Student Theatre Company and appeared at The Edinburgh Fringe. As both actor and director he has been involved in a diverse range of productions since moving to Bath in 1994 and for 10 years he regularly directed Shakespeare in the Park with Sophie, raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process. He has also turned his hand to writing on occasion and has adapted and directed some of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as an open air production.
Darian is Head of Drama at a school in Bath and, when he is not acting, directing, producing or stage managing, his other skills include stage lighting, sound effects and set design and construction.
Click here to see images from the Rondo Theatre Company’s production of East by Steven Berkoff with Darian as Mike and Sophie as Sylv.
Darian Nelson is a suitably menacing Mephistopheles…all dark flowing locks and swirling cape.
On his performance in Dr Faustus
Anne Hipperson studied theatre arts and dance at Middlesex before specialising in the more technical aspects of theatre. She has stage-managed and produced a wide range of shows of many styles, including Death and the Maiden, Sisterly Feelings, Death of a Salesman, A Small Family Business, The Dresser, Three Birds Alighting on a Field, Grimm Tales, Insignificance, Blue Remembered Hills, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Noises Off, The Caretaker, East and The Crucible. Anne has also been involved on the technical side for Bath Fringe Festival and various community projects.
Occasionally appearing on stage in roles such as Catherine in Miller’s A View From the Bridge, Viola in Twelfth Night and the Narrator in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Anne’s real passion is in the back-stage arts. She made her directorial debut in 2002 with the highly acclaimed The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband and directed Sleuth! for Playing Up in 2004.
Since starting a family, Anne has spent more time in the music arena and enjoys playing bass and providing vocals for local bands. 2006 also saw her co-organise the first Bath Folk Festival. This annual charitable event is now a well-established folk event in Bath.
May…excellently played by Anne Hipperson
On her performance in The Accrington Pals
No stranger to drama, Sophie Brooks has been acting for as long as she can remember. In addition to drama and dance training, she has practical experience of stage management, lighting, sound and costume. She has worked with professional and amateur theatre companies in a range of theatrical events and productions that include performing with Bath’s Natural Theatre Company, experimental street theatre, musicals, Shakespeare, Brecht and a number of plays by contemporary playwrights. Sophie was also responsible for producing ‘The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband’ in 2002 which was performed by The Rondo Theatre Company and which brought the Playing Up team together for the first time.
A qualified English and Drama teacher and now Director of English at a Bristol school, Sophie is very interested in the role of theatre in education and has frequently organised events to develop pupils’ understanding and appreciation of issues relevant to texts studied and the world around them.
Sophie Brooks, as Flora, drives the plot admirably with enough one liners to fill a stand-up comedy evening.
On her performance in Cold Comfort Farm
John-Paul Christian’s involvement in theatre began in 2000, initially providing sound effects for a production of A Small Family Business. He has since designed and operated sound for over thirty plays including Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, Blue Remembered Hills and The Royal Hunt of the Sun.
In 2001 he joined a school as their Performing Arts Technician, and work included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Our Country’s Good, Bugsy Malone and Joseph.
In 2003 he made his acting debut as John in Who’s Life is it anyway? He then went on to appear as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, followed by the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.
Performances since then have included Inspector Pissani in Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Polpoch in Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss. Musical performances have included Ambrose Kemper in Hello Dolly and Benny Southstreet in Guys & Dolls.
More recently, JP appeared as Richard Merton in The Servant and as Wally in Alphabetical Order, both with Bath Drama. He also enjoyed his first acting role in a Playing Up production as the police officer in Trumpets and Raspberries.
In July 2007 JP was appointed as the Theatre Technician at a theatre in Slough and left to take up his new post. He hopes to stay involved in future Playing Up productions as much as possible.
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