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Our Team

Photo: Matt Pereira

Left to right: Ant Stones | Karl Niklas | Sarah Gobran | Beth Sweeney | Matt Pinches


Sarah Gobran - Co-Founder & Producer

First Shakespeare you saw: Romeo and Juliet
Favourite part you’ve played: Katherina (Kate)
Favourite play: Twelfth Night, Much Ado, King Lear...it’s an impossible decision..
Favourite place in Guildford: The River Wey Walk

Sarah's passion for theatre and performance began at the age of seven with her discovery of Pam Ayres, regularly subjecting her classmates to a rendition of the latest poems she had learnt that week!

Sarah moved to Guildford in 1995 to train at the Guildford School of Acting and since graduating has performed in a variety of theatre and film, including a spell at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Alan Ayckbourn's Sugar Daddies . Sarah has also worked for many local theatre companies including The Phoenix, in Bordon, playing Bathsheba in Far From The Madding Crowd, and for Proteus in Basingstoke, as Wendy in Peter Pan. For both companies she toured to local communities in Surrey and Hampshire.

Sarah is delighted to have set up Guildford Shakespeare Company and by the tremendous response that they have received from the community, who appear to be as passionate as she is about Open-Air Shakespeare coming to life in Guildford!


Matt Pinches - Co-Founder & Producer

First Shakespeare you saw: The Taming of the Shrew
Favourite part you’ve played: Benedick (Much Ado)
Favourite play: Always the one I'm working on!
Favourite place in Guildford: The Mount, St Catherine's Hill

Originally from Worcester, Matt trained at University College Bretton Hall in West Yorkshire, graduating in 1998 with an honours degree in Dramatic Art. Open-air theatre gave him his first job, playing D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers in Manchester. Since then he has continued to work in all forms of theatre from panto to TIE, from national No.1 tours to village halls, as well TV commercials and short films.
 
Matt continues to act outside of the company and as well as acting and producing, leads talks and lectures on Shakespeare. In the summer of 2016 he walked the 146 mile Shakespeare Way from Stratford to The Globe in London. He is now working on a film about the walk for the GSC Education Department. As of July 2016, he has appeared in all 30 of GSC's productions.
 
He’s extremely proud of GSC and all it has achieved. He recently moved to Woking, is an avid baker, collector gin and hopes one day to own a 2CV.


Ant Stones - Head of Education

First Shakespeare you saw: Titus Andronicus
Favourite play you’ve directed: Much Ado About Nothing

Favourite play: Macbeth

Favourite place in Guildford: The Alice sculpture by the River Wey

Ant studied English and Theatre at Warwick, before training on the Birkbeck directing course. He fell in love with open-air theatre after performing The Capulets and Montagues (a take on the Shakespeare classic) with the RSC as part of their Complete Works Season. He currently lives in Farncombe with his wife Bella and their son, Alfred The Great.


For GSC, Ant has adapted three of their professional productions, The Wind in the WillowsAlice in Wonderland and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. He has also directed their schools tour of Macbeth. Before joining the company, Ant directed and wrote his own productions for a variety of theatres, including The Bush Theatre, Theatre Delicatessen, Theatre 503, The Old Red Lion and The Underbelly.

Ant has been creating and running workshops for over ten years and enjoys working with the huge amount of children (and adults) who take part in our clubs, classes and workshops. It doesn’t matter how often he may look at a play, he always discovers something new and exciting by putting them on their feet. 


Beth Sweeney - Company Stage Manager

First Shakespeare you saw: A Midsummer Night's Dream 
Favourite part you’ve played: Cinderella (in the COD Pantomime at the Yvonne Arnaud!)   
Favourite play: Much Ado About Nothing 
Favourite place in Guildford: The Britannia Pub (lots of excellent memories from my student days) 

Beth trained at the Guildford School of Acting, graduating in 2010 with a First in Professional Production Skills. Since then she has been working as a freelance Stage Manager, with such companies as Northern Broadsides, Qdos, Creation Theatre and Headlong.

Beth first met Matt and Sarah back in 2011, as the Assistant Stage Manager, on their production of Hamlet and she enjoyed it so much she kept coming back! Alice In Wonderland which was staged across Guildford in October 2015 was Beth’s 10th production with GSC.

Personal highlights include plumping Richard III’s back hump, making cucumber sandwiches in a shed during The Importance of Being Ernest, operating Dolly the sheep’s bleats in As You Like It and dressing up as Robert the Scout (with woggle) for The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Beth is thrilled to be taking on the full time role of Company and Technical Stage Manager and is looking forward to many more fantastic years with the GSC team.


Karl Niklas - Company Administrator & Education Assistant

First Shakespeare you saw: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Favourite part you’ve played: Autolycus

Favourite play: Macbeth

Favourite place in Guildford: Holy Trinity Church

Karl has been in love with Shakespeare since the age of 8 when his drama teacher gave him a speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He hasn’t looked back since.

After reading for a BA in Classical Civilisations and then an MA in English Literature at Warwick University, he went on to train as an actor at Arts Educational Schools London. His work includes devising several shows with new writing group Tea Fuelled, yearly summer seasons with Michael Friend Productions and a number of short films developed through his award winning film company Decal Heart.   

Karl is also a freelance workshop facilitator, specialising in primary and youth theatre education. He is a youth director for Rose Theatre Kingston, a guest practitioner for Stagecoach Theatre Arts ‘ADPA Course’, and has travelled across the Europe inspiring teachers and young people about the magic of Shakespeare.

Trustees

In alphabetical order...

Alex Brayshaw (Chair)

Alex joined the board as one its first Trustees in December 2010, and has lived and worked in Guildford since 2002.

He has been in marketing for almost 20 years and brings both marketing and business experience, having run a successful marketing agency. Alex is currently a partner at OgilvyOne dnx.

His passions are travelling, cars and being organised!

His favourite Shakespeare play is The Merchant of Venice only just ahead of Henry V.

 

Peter Gordon

A politics graduate (York) and trained journalist (Highbury) Peter is Guildford born and bred, was educated at Cranleigh School and has been on radio in the local area for more than 25 years!

Originally starting with County Sound Radio, Peter launched Eagle Radio in January 1996 and has been the Programme Director and Breakfast show presenter ever since. He carries out programming management duties for Eagle’s parent company, UKRD, which has a number of radio stations and media interests throughout the UK.

Peter also frequently appears in the pantomime at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud theatre – roles have included Ugly Sister and Nurse Nellie!

Peter became a Trustee in April 2015.

 

Kate Nathoo

Kate is the Office Director of Thesis Asset Management PLC Guildford office, and has worked in central Guildford for 25 years.

Kate also lives in Guildford  and, when not travelling for work, she really appreciates her local walk to work!

Kate and Thesis have been proud to support the work of GSC through corporate sponsorship.  This has enabled them to take clients to theatrical productions of an exceptional standard ranging from Sonnet Walks to King Lear.

 

Favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear – for the poignant beauty of the language and reminder that hope, love and forgiveness can overcome a bleak world. 'Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say’.

Kate became a Trustee in February 2015.

 

Jane Shepperd

Jane is one of the original board members of GSC, joining in December 2010.

Born in Northern Ireland, she has lived in and around Guildford on and off since the age of 8, and is from an old Guildford family!

She went to Guildford High School and then trained as a Nurse at St Thomas'. She had a successful career as a Nursing Sister before attending Drama School.

Jane enjoyed a varied Acting career in Television, Theatre, Musical Theatre and Film - largely comedy. She played principal roles in two West End productions before setting up Shepperd-Fox in 2005, a Theatrical Agency, of which she is the senior partner.

Her favourite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night.

 

Dana-Leigh Strauss (Vice-Chair)

Dana-Leigh has lived in West Horsley since 1990 and joined the board in October 2014.

 

She has a Masters in International Relations from the London School of Economics, over 20 years experience in the global oil industry and expertise in project management and commercial business processes.

 

Dana-Leigh is an active member of the Grace & Flavour community garden in West Horsley where she cares for 74 fruit trees.

 

Her initial introduction to Shakespeare was a dull high school English class that ONLY read Henry IV part II. GSC has changed all that!


 

Karin Walker

Karin became a trustee in October 2012.

 

Her professional background is a family lawyer, running her own niche family law practice in Woking and currently chair of the national Resolution DR committee. As a partner in her previous Guildford based firm, and now through KGW Family Law, Karin has been a proud sponsor of GSC productions since 2008.

 

Karin’s association with GSC supports her enthusiasm for the arts and the enrichment of the local community. She enjoys the theatre greatly and is overwhelmed by the standard of production repeatedly provided by GSC in the most atmospheric of locations.

 

Karin lives locally on the Surrey/Hampshire border with her husband John and their two children where she enjoys her garden and the countryside with her two dogs.

 

Joanna Read (currently Principal of LAMDA) is our President