Free Word is run by a small, dedicated staff led by Director Rose Fenton.
Rose Fenton, Director
Rose is a co-founder of LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) and was its co-Director for 25 years until 2005. After leaving LIFT she worked as a producer and arts policy advisor developing and facilitating projects across Europe and beyond, including in Iran and the Far East. She co-authored the Arts, Culture and Creativity Strategy for the London Olympic Park post-2012; and was part of the team developing the shortlisted bid for Lublin, Poland to become European Capital of Culture 2016. Rose is a Mentor for the Clore Leadership Programme and sits on the board of Aerowaves, and on the Advisory Board of Tipping Point. She has received an Honorary Doctorate from De Montford University and an Honorary Fellowship from Dartington College of Arts. With Lucy Neal she co-wrote The Turning World: Stories from the London International Festival of Theatre (The Gulbenkian Foundation, 2005). In 2005 Rose was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama.
Sharon Ayre, Duty Manager
Sharon moved down to London from the North East in 2008. Having worked for five years in live music events, she turned her back on the rock and roll lifestyle in early 2011 to join Free Word as Duty Manager. She loves Russian literature, Nineteenth Century Gothic and contemporary writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Ian McEwan.
Lora Christy, Marketing and Communications Assistant
Lora graduated from the University of Kent in 2015 with a degree in English and American Literature. She has volunteered with Apples and Snakes since 2012, promoting events, writing blogs and working at spoken word nights, and was previously an intern at Wise Words Festival in Canterbury, Kent. She enjoys spoken word and folk music, and is particularly interested in the environment and sustainability.
Katya Evans, Head of Development
Katya has worked in arts fundraising for over twelve years. Following graduating with an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths College, University of London, her first fundraising role was as part of a team raising £14 million to build the first purpose designed theatre for children in London, Unicorn Theatre. She went on to work on revenue fundraising at the Design Museum, as Deputy Director of Development at the Almeida Theatre and, most recently, Head of Development at contemporary dance company, Hofesh Shechter Company.
Tim Fletcher, Building Manager
Tim graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with an English Literature with Drama degree in 2006. He then began work for Trestle Theatre Company at their Arts Base in St Albans. Most recently he has worked at Jacksons Lane for two years as Operations Manager before joining the Free Word team in May 2012. He loves reading a good book, attending theatre and live music and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Angharad Guy, Marketing and Communications Manager
Angharad spent six years working in the literary arts sector in the United States, before returning to the UK in 2013. During her time in America she worked as programme manager for The Big Read, a national literature programme that supports innovative community reading projects across the US. After returning to the UK, Angharad joined FilmAid International and was responsible for operations and development before becoming deputy director. She has served on the board of directors for two arts organisations and as a panellist for arts grants in Minnesota.
Eleanor Lang, Executive Director
Eleanor has spent six years working for a number of arts organisations including the Donmar Warehouse, Y Touring Theatre Company and BAC, as well as working as a freelance producer. Mostly recently she spent a year at the Bush Theatre as their General Manager. Eleanor is on the advisory board of Non Zero One, Tonic Theatre and Y Touring. She is a board member of Kandinsky Theatre and Rose Bruford College.
Lauren Mooney, Administrator and PA to the Director
Lauren graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2012 with a degree in English Literature and Language. After a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe, she moved to London and began working in administration and Assistant Producing the London Horror Festival. She particularly enjoys directing, producing and writing about theatre, and she has written for Exeunt and A Younger Theatre. Lauren also works as a freelance script reader and volunteers at HMP Holloway, where she co-runs a readers’ group for enhanced-level prisoners.
Alex Moran, Front of House and Operations Co-ordinator
Alex studied Screenwriting at the London Film Academy and graduated in 2013. Since then, he has worked as a freelance writer and reader, alongside working in a museum, gallery and theatre space in Liverpool. He loves film, music, the arts, and making bad puns.
Ceri Ellen Payne, Front of House and Operations Co-ordinator
Ceri trained at Rose Bruford College in Stage Management and works part time as a freelance stage & production manager.
She has worked in Arts administration and Theatre management for the best part of 10 years. Other job roles she has undertaken whilst doing this include mail sorter, rail complaints taker and novelty wig washer. She enjoys writing bad poetry and listening to very loud music.
Alex Solo, Building Assistant
Alex joined Free Word in October 2015, coming from a rather diverse employment background. Alex has worked as a scenic artist and crew at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster, a self-employed decorator, as well as in customer service and hospitality. An English graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, he is currently studying for his MA in ‘Issues in Modern Culture’ at UCL. He has put on live music events across both London and Manchester since 2008. In his spare time, Alex enjoys writing, dystopian/utopian narratives and reconnecting with his Greek culture.
Rowan Spray, Duty Manager
Rowan is an artist and freelance photographer with a background in literature. She grew up in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, before studying English Literature & Cultural Criticism at Cardiff University, graduating in 2004. Since then she has lived in London, also attending Camberwell College of Art. She has worked at Free Word since 2009 whilst continuing her photographic practise. She especially loves reading long letters from friends.
Natasha Sutton-Williams, Duty Manager
Natasha is a playwright, singer and journalist. Her plays have been performed on the London stage at the Arcola, Southwark Playhouse, and Pleasance Theatre. She recently wrote, composed and performed her one-woman show Freud The Musical. She is a member of Soho Theatre’s Young Writers’ Alumni scheme and has been twice shortlisted for their Soho Young Writers’ Award. She received mentorship on the Inspires programme produced by Writers’ Centre Norwich and Ideastap. She is also a freelance arts journalist for londoncalling.com.
Sophie Wardell, Programme Producer
Sophie graduated in English Literature from Exeter University and began work as box office manager of a major Edinburgh Fringe Festival theatre venue. She moved to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in Bristol in the ‘Knowledge Transfer’ team and worked on projects to take humanities research outside of University contexts into business and the creative industries. In 2010 Sophie began work in the Literature team at the British Council, and for the last two years Sophie has delivered an international programme of literature activities, author events, workshops, seminars, residencies and spoken word programmes. Sophie worked on partnerships and programmes across EU Europe, Wider Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, and managed a number of key projects including literature activity around the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the current World War One literature centenary programme.