Who we are

Did you know that Samuel Taylor Coleridge refers to a Pleasure Dome in his seminal poem, Kubla Khan, inspired by Exmoor's dramatic landscape?

 

"I decided to found Pleasure Dome in 2015 after a lifetime of thinking someone should do some theatre at The Valley of Rocks. I spent my early summers scrambling up and down it's weaving pathways and peering out to sea. I always thought it was an otherworldly and magical location, somewhere not quite of this planet, a place where the sea meets the sky, a place where imagination meets reality, and I can think of nowhere more fitting to perform in. " Helena Payne

 

Helena Payne- Creative Director/Producer/Titania

Helena read English at The University of Exeter before training at DSL. Represented by Atwell Artist Management she studies voice with Sheila Barnes. As an actor she has played Edmund in LEAR, Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Will Doone in Lorna Doone and Lady Macbeth and Lady Sims in The Twelve Pound Look with PDTC. Other work include Sexism is Bad… at The Arcola, Top Girls at The Southbank Centre, Praxagora in The Assembly Women, Mrs Smith in The Bald Prima Donna at The Old Red Lion, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Guiderius in Cymbeline at the CSF, The Blind/The Intruder at the Old Red Lion and its transfer to the Tabard, The Alchemist at the Riverhouse Studios, Viola in Twelfth Night and Margaret in Much Ado at PSF, and Like Enemies of the State at the Pleasance. She regularly records at Abbey Road with London Cantamusica and recently recorded audiobook All the Perverse Angels at Pinewood Studios. She has toured with Heritage Opera as Mercedes in Carmen and other sung roles include Annio in La Clemenza di Tito, Mrs Noye in Noye’s Fludde at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, Alidoro in La Cenerentola and Mustardseed in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Minack Theatre. She loves The Valley of Rocks and thanks you for indulging her childhood dream in turning this spectacular space into a theatre.. What has she done then?

 

 

Scott Le Crass- Director/Associate Company Member

Scott comes from Birmingham, trained as an actor at Arts Ed and was a director on the Birmingham Rep’s first Foundry Programme. He is an Associate Director for Pleasure Dome Theatre Company where his previous productions include- LEAR Lorna Doone, The Importance of Being Earnest, Macbeth.

 

Credits include: Director- Rose by Martin Sherman starring Maureen Lipman (Hope Mill Theatre/Sky Arts/Broadway HD), Country Music (Omnibus Theatre), Elmer (UK and International Tour/Selladoor), Organised Fun; with guest host Barbara Nice (Online comedy improv show), Rage, But Hope (Streatham Space Project), Sid (Arts Theatre and UK Tour) The Witches (Watford Palace), Alice in Wonderland (Old, Rep, Birmingham), Kicked in the Sh**ter (Hope Theatre/Theatre in The Mill, Bradford), Open House (Birmingham Rep and tour), Diary of a Madman (Omnibus/Jack Studio).

 

Associate Director- Godspell (50th Anniversary Concert, Hope Mill Theatre), The Seven Ages of Patience (Kiln Theatre). Assistant Director- The King’s Speech (Chichester/Birmingham Rep/UK Tour), Romeo and Juliet (Silvano Toti Globe/Harold Pinter Theatre), The Merchant of Venice (Silvano Toti Globe/Duke of Yorks), Coming Up (Watford Palace), A Christmas Carol (Birmingham Rep), Von Ribbentrop's Watch (Oxford Playhouse/Watford Palace), Kurt and Sid (Trafalgar Studios). This year, Scott’s digital production of Rose won an Off Com award and Country Music an Off West End award in 2020. He received a Best Director Offie and Broadway World Nomination for his productions of Sid and a Best Director Offie Nomination for Kicked in the Sh**ter. Alice in Wonderland was a runner up and a finalist for two What’s On Birmingham Awards.

Jai Morjaria- Lighting Designer/Associate Company Member

Jai trained at RADA and won the 2016 Association of Lighting Designer’s ETC Award.

 

Recent designs include Cruise (Duchess Theatre); Big Big Sky, The Hoes (Hampstead Theatre); Lava, Pawn/Limbo (Bush Theatre); My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) (Turbine Theatre); Hushabye Mountain (Hope Mill); Out of the Dark (Rose Theatre Kingston); Shuck’n’Jive, Whitewash (Soho Theatre); Anansi the Spider, Aesop’s Fables (Unicorn Theatre); I’ll Take You To Mrs. Cole (Complicite); World’s End (King’s Head Theatre); The Actor’s Nightmare (Park Theatre); Mapping Brent (Kiln Theatre); Mary’s Babies (Jermyn Street Theatre); Glory (Duke’s Theatre/Red Ladder); Cuzco (Theatre503);  Losing Venice (Orange Tree Theatre); King Lear, Lorna Doone (Exmoor National Park); Cinderella (Duke’s Lancaster); Ages of the Moon (Vaults Festival); A Lie of the Mind (Southwark Playhouse);  46 Beacon (Trafalgar Studios with Rick Fisher); Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road (White Bear Theatre/Trafalgar Studios 2); Acorn (Courtyard Theatre.  Off-West End Award nomination for Best Lighting).

Nayomie James- A. Director/Company Manager/Quince/Cobweb

 

This is Nayomie James’ second production with Pleasure Dome Theatre Co.  Nayomie’s previous theatre credits include Mona (Lipshitz) in Chicago, Sally Scrubbs in Reading of The Will, Mrs Bucknell in The Great Gale of Brixham, Sarah Ridd / Margery Badcock in Lorna Doone, as well as Puck & Flute in previous incarnations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Nayomie was awarded Best Comedy at Brighton Fringe for multiple roles within A Puppet Named Desire and was a founding member of The Beehive Theatre Co who collectively devised Paper Wings.  Credits also include pantomime, stand up comedy (sketch), contemporary dance and roles in film and tv. Nayomie represents herself and is in pre-production with two site specific plays local to North Devon.

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Miranda Pfunder- Costume Designer

 

Miranda Pfunder is an experienced costume professional trained at The National Theatre after graduating from The Arts University Bournemouth in 2005. Working as part of the creative team for circus, opera and theatre including War Horse 2007 & 2009.  She moved into Film as a buyer and has worked on high budget films including Captain America 2011 & Justice league for Marvel, Les Misérables 2012 & Star Wars: Episode VII 2015 & Rogue one 2016 for Disney. Now as a working mum has designed Baba’s song 2019 and continues to costume/source for Film TV and theatre.

Jack Wills- Associate Lighting Designer

 

Jack is a 2018 Graduate from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since graduating in July 2018 Jack has designed at ALRA London, York Theatre Royal Studio, The Royal Academy of Music, The Kings Head Theatre and the Above The Stag Theatre to name a few,

Sam Baker- Composer/Musical Director

 

Since graduating from Oxford University in 2012, Sam spent over a year working as music teacher, organist, repetiteur, and composer in New Zealand – also performing  in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia during his time out there. On returning to the UK in early 2014, he took an administrative job with Garsington Opera before moving to his current role as a music teacher and boarding house tutor at Taunton Preparatory School.

As well as music teaching and assisting with school boarding, he also teaches piano, organ, singing, and accompanies the pupils in exams and concerts. Aside from full time school duties, he has a busy freelance performing and accompanying career in and around Somerset and Devon playing for various choral and opera societies. He is Musical Director for Bristol's Opera-in-a-box and Taunton's Somerset Opera. He plays for church services and weddings locally too. His trio Stella Maris was formed last year with two sopranos based in Exeter. Sam is excited to be bringing you the funky vibes!

Stephanie Berner- Hippolyta/Peaseblossom/ Stage Manager

 

Stephanie studied Music Performance at Warwickshire  College receiving three Distinction A*s. During this  time Stephanie reached grade 6 on piano, and took  singing grades 6, 7, 8 and DipLCM within two years.  

In 2018 Stephanie graduated from the London College  of Music, with a First Class Honours degree in Music  Performance and won the Michael James Oratorio  Competition whilst studying under Sandra Ford. During  University, she sang with the BBC Symphony Chorus  during the 2018 Proms.  

Stephanie has always enjoyed performed on stage,  playing various roles at The Crescent Theatre,  Birmingham, and Rugby Operatic Society. Further  credits include playing ‘Second Woman’ in Dido and  Aneaes, ‘Tessa’ in The Gondoliers and ‘Tweedle-Dee\  The Siblings’ in Alices’ Adventures in Wonderland with  Opera Holland Park.  

Stephanie has recently performed as a soloist with  Minehead Chorale Society in Stella Natalis by Karl  Jenkins, and has performed recitals in Devon and  Rugby. She is now Teaching singing peripatetically, and  working at Taunton Music School providing one-to- one  lessons in voice and piano.  

During lockdown 2020, Stephanie performed with  Pleasure Dome Theatre and gave an online recital with  St Johns Church.

Joe Wiltshire Smith- Bottom/Egeus

Joe is a Welsh actor who graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 2017. He represented RWCMD at the Sam Wanamaker Festival in his second year, was a finalist at the Sondheim Student Performer of the Year and received the J.O Francis Memorial Award in 2017 and the Gareth Jones Scholarship in 2016. Some of Joe’s theatre credits include The History Boys at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and The Kneebone Cadillac at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. In 2019, Joe had his first play, Five Green Bottles, produced at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Most recently, he completed his MA in Creative Writing at Cambridge and was shortlisted for the Orange Tree Writer’s Collective.

Josephine Rattigan- Hermia/Fairy

 

Josie trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre school. She is over the moon to be returning to Pleasure Dome theatre company this summer for another iconic role In A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is thrilled to be working with Helena , Le crass and the entire Pleasure Dome team once again; feeling the festival of freedom vibes in the fresh air of Exmoor. Previous Credits include UK/USA tours, Regional tours,lyric Hammersmith, Norwich playhouse and York theatre Royal .

 Love letters- Lyric Hammersmith, First Kiss: under the Influence of 90’s  NOT TOO TAME at Latitude, playinthepark,

After over a year without live performance what a wonderful way to return to the world of theatre, amidst the stunning setting of the Valley of Rocks.

Azaan Symes- Demetrius

 

Azaan is an Anglo-Persian actor from Brighton and Hove. Having completed his degree in International Relations at university, he decided to pursue his creative interest in acting, graduating from Drama Studio London in 2018. Azaan has played roles from Shakespeare to Chekhov, and since leaving drama school has worked across stage and screen, with credits including The Merchant of Venice (Silvano Toti Globe Theatre Roma, Duke of York’s Theatre) and Killing Eve (BBC America), as well as commercials and corporate work.  When not acting Azaan enjoys football, binge watching TV box sets, cooking Italian food, and spending time in the countryside.

 James Killeen- Lysander/Flute

James Killeen graduated from the BA Actor Musicianship course at Rose Bruford College in 2017 with a 1st Class Honours Degree.

James has a strong passion for Shakespeare having played roles such as Leontes, Macbeth and Iachimo whilst training at drama school. He is excited to be playing the role of Lysander and delighted to make a much awaited return to the theatre after a difficult year for the arts.James is looking forward to working with director Scott Le Crass again and thrilled to be a part of

the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company’s team for this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Theatre credits include: Fatherland (Lyric Hammersmith), Vanilla (Southwark Playhouse) and Faeries (Cockpit Theatre). James is due to play the lead in a UK & Ireland tour of a popular West End show later this year.

 Janna Fox- Helena/Snout

Janna trained at Drama Studio London on the One Year Course in 2010 and works in theatre, film and voiceover. Favourite theatre credits include: African Gothic (Park 90), Red Sea Fish (Brits Off Broadway), Merchant of Venice (Duke of York’s/Globe Rome), Th’Importance of Bein’ Earnest (The Drayton Arms), Rising Damp (Sarah Thorne Theatre), Trial Play (Arcola). Janna is a versatile and experienced actress and screen castings include struggling addict, escaped psychiatric patient, Yummy Mummy and comedy Air Hostess. Janna has spent the majority of the Pandemic narrating Audiobooks her first of which, A Well Trained Lady By Jess Heileman is available on Audible now. She also worked on Zoom for five months on five star online immersive show Jury Duty playing The Coordinator for Jury Games. Despite being raised in Leeds Janna is from a family of wanderers and her maternal Great Grandmother was originally from Somerset and met Janna’s Great Grandfather in Weston-Super-Mare; they then moved to Cardiff leading Janna to believe she had Welsh heritage when in fact it originates in the South West. This is Janna’s fourth professional endeavour as Helena, she is thrilled to be working with Pleasure Dome and to get back to open air performances especially in such an idyllic location and hopes to meet some wild goats.

Ben Fensome- Oberon/ Theseus

Ben Fensome studied acting at The Oxford School of Drama and playwriting at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

As an actor his credits include: The Shopkeeper and Tombes in The Twelve Pound Look (Exmoor Studios), Collide (White Bear Theatre), Remember Tonight (Camden Fringe), Feel More (The Space/Lion and Unicorn Theatre), Every Seven Years (New Wimbledon Theatre), Twothousandands*x (Drill Hall), Oedipus (Battersea Arts Centre), Dance:Radio (York Theatre Royal). 

As a writer Ben has had short work performed and stage-read at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Bush Theatre, Soho Theatre, Park Theatre.
Full length plays include: Every Seven Years (New Wimbledon Theatre), The Miriam Gospel (Ovalhouse), A Successful Failure (Half Moon Theatre).
He has been longlisted for The Bruntwood Prize and shortlisted for the Papatango Prize. His new play Buff is currently in development with director Scott Le Crass.

Louella Gaskell- Puck/ Philostrate

 

Originally hailing from North Devon, Louella is an actor and singer who began to pursue a career in the arts through musical theatre for local productions and acoustic performances at Devon gigs. She later trained in acting at Falmouth Arts University where she has appeared in Under Milk Wood as First Voice, and Helen of Troy in The Trojan Women. Louella has also appeared in various independent film projects, works as an actor for Screampark Entertainments’ immersive events and over the past year could often be found keeping herself busy during the lockdowns by strumming her guitar on Zoom open mic events.

 

   Louella is joyous to be back on stage and able to play to a live audience, and is proud to be a part of bringing professional outdoor theatre to her home county in her first appearance with Pleasure Dome Theatre.

Elizabeth Dayleigh Hayton- Puck/ Starveling

 

Elizabeth has just finished her final production at Bath Spa University on their BA Acting course where she was awarded a First and most recently devised ‘Mother Tongue’ alongside members of The Wardrobe Ensemble (Bristol) and performed at The Forum Theatre, Bath. 

 

From North Devon, she has performed in a variety of shows at The Queens theatre, Barnstaple and The Landmark theatre, Ilfracombe.

Her favourite roles included: Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Mme. Frau Fischer (On The Razzle) & Hedda (Hedda Gabler). 

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be her first open-air theatre production for Elizabeth and she is excited to get started! 

Freya Warren Brand- Mustardseed

Freya Warren-Brand is a 15 year old young lady living in Exmoor.  Freya was born in Swindon, but moved to Lynton with her family, when she was 6.  

With Pleasure Dome Theatre she played Young Lorna Doone in Lorna Doone 150 and is very excited to be part of the company and cast for 2021. Freya went to Lynton Primary School and then moved onto Ilfracombe Academy. Freya has been performing since she was a toddler. From dancing around the living room, to school productions, and in Brendon Panto. Freya enjoys comedy
and confrontational roles. Freya loves Harry Potter, reading the books, watching the films
and listening to audio books; she has been to Harry Potter World three times and collects
all the memorabilia. She is so excited to be a magical Mustardseed!

Rosalie Cook- Snug/ Snowdrop

Rosalie Cook, aged 7, has starred in the school nativity, twice as an angel, she is a keen dancer, singer and horse rider.  A Midsummer Nights Dream will be her first professional production and she is very excited to be undertaking the dual roles of Snug & a fairy.

 

 

Ophelia Cook- Moth

Ophelia Cook, at just 5 years old, is a keen climber, gymnast and horse rider, playing a fairy in A Midsummer Nights Dream will be her first role for the stage.  Both Rosalie & Ophelia were on screen when they were younger in an advertising campaign for Cats Protection.

Nathaniel Morgan Payne- Changeling Child

Nathaniel is 4 and likes trains. A lot.

Pleasure Dome Theatre Associate Artists:
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