Staff

Toby Mitchell

Artistic Director and Co-founder

Meet Toby

What’s your story?

As a teenager, I discovered that before I was born, my dad had been a famous jazz musician. Knowing how unpredictable arts careers are, and having left school at 16 to go straight into music, he strongly discouraged me from going straight into the arts myself. So I studied French and German at university – and only later did a Drama MA at Central. But, after co-founding Tall Stories with Olivia, the rest is history. Sorry, Dad! 

What do you do at Tall Stories?

Some of my duties as artistic director include directing and writing shows, choosing new shows, and having random ideas. All of us at Tall Stories have ideas for shows and for how the company works. I have far too many ideas – most odd or frankly unworkable, some good! I also have an overview of marketing and design – and I take most of our publicity photos. Outside of Tall Stories, I'm a board member of the Edinburgh Fringe.

What are your favourite stories?

I’ve always loved ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for its mixture of nonsense and warped logic. (I’ve created two shows based on Alice over the years.) I also love ‘Winnie the Pooh’ for its own mix of silliness and philosophy. And then there’s a great book which I consider the American equivalent of ‘Alice’ – ‘The Phantom Tollbooth. As a teenager I loved the brilliant ‘Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, which I still re-read today.

Lucy Wood

Executive Director

Meet Lucy

What’s your story?

As a child I loved going to the theatre with my family as a special treat. Experiencing shows at such a young age has made me want to make theatre accessible for all and we hope that our work at Tall Stories sparks a life-long love of theatre! I now live in Hackney with my husband and two sons. It’s a juggle being a busy working mum but I’m lucky to work for a very family-friendly organisation!

What do you do at Tall Stories?

At Tall Stories I oversee the management and logistics of each project that we work on. Together with Toby and Olivia I plan ahead for what production we should do next! I keep track of our budgets and the rights agreements for all the productions that are based on picture books. My role is about making sure the company is running smoothly and our team are well supported.

What are your favourite stories?

I really like fairy stories that have been adapted to have a modern twist or spin; where a story passed down from generation to generation has been made into something entirely new! My son and I have recently been enjoying ‘The Ghanaian Goldilocks’ by Dr Tamara Pizzoli, where a young boy nicknamed Goldilocks has an unexpected visit to his neighbour’s house which teaches him a valuable life lesson.

Natalia Scorer

Creative Programme Manager

Meet Natalia

What’s your story?

I’m originally from Bristol, with a Russian, British and South African background. I’d always loved imaginary games and stories, but it was seeing a ‘Les Miserables’ DVD at age 9 that really got me interested in theatre. My other love is the outdoors and running a Beaver Scouts group keeps me busy in my spare time. I joined Tall Stories as an intern in 2014 and am now the resident grammar pedant (jointly with Toby) and musical theatre nerd!

What do you do at Tall Stories?

Like all of us, I wear a few different hats. I manage the Tall Stories Studio, running the programme of events and working with external companies using the space. I associate direct some of our shows, organise our casting and contracts and am the main point of contact for company members and agents. I also oversee all of the company’s branding and marketing and I design some of our online and print artwork. 

What are your favourite stories?

As a child, Enid Blyton books gave me a love of reading and Noel Streatfeild books gave me a love of theatre. But I’d also have to mention ‘His Dark Materials’ and the Harry Potter books as all-time favourites. 

Sheila McClenaghan

Finance Manager

Meet Sheila

What’s your story?

I have loved numbers from an early age, and have been involved in looking after the accounts for many varied organisations for most of my adult life. My interest in theatre began when my children joined a local drama group, and I took on many backstage roles over the years. I have been fortunate enough to work in professional theatre now for almost 13 years, the last six years at Tall Stories.

What do you do at Tall Stories?

My job is to deal with the money coming in, mainly from ticket sales; and to keep track of all the money we need to spend on our various projects, and make sure everything gets paid on time.

What are your favourite stories?

As a child I loved the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series, and when my daughters were younger I enjoyed reading them the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Harriet Billington

Production Coordinator

Meet Harriet

What’s your story?

I’ve been at Tall Stories since 2019, and I love that we sometimes send our shows to my old local theatre – I performed in youth theatre shows there growing up. Before Tall Stories, I worked hiring out costumes, and outside the office I can be found making clothes. I also love a good adventure and swim in the sea whenever the opportunity arises – it’s good for the soul, just like storytelling. 

What do you do at Tall Stories?

I help keep the productions running on a day to day basis. This includes lots of planning, and organising the transport, accommodation and general logistics for tours. I do lots of trouble shooting and I look after our van, which needs lots of TLC.

What are your favourite stories?

‘My Side of the Mountain’ by JC George. The ‘Just William’ stories by Richmal Crompton. And Harry Potter of course.

Robyn Wilson

Production Assistant

Meet Robyn

What’s your story?

My secondary school didn’t have a drama department, but when I went to university, I was completely amazed by all the opportunities the drama society had to offer. I threw myself in, and before I knew it, I was spending all my time doing plays! A highlight was performing a family show at the Arcola with The Prince’s Trust Foundation. After university I attended drama school on a scholarship, and I’ve worked in theatre ever since. 

What do you do at Tall Stories?

I help with the day to day running of Tall Stories. I keep on top of the phones, emails and social media, keep our diary and schedules up to date, ensure our shows are running smoothly (which can cover all manner of things!), and most importantly of all, I keep the biscuit tin fully stocked. 

What are your favourite stories?

I like stories with great characters. Recently I enjoyed ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. I love how creative the four March sisters are when keeping themselves entertained at home, and of course, Jo’s rebellious spirit. 

Samantha Lyden

Tour Booker

Meet Samantha

What’s your story?

I’m the eldest of four children, from Hertfordshire originally, but I moved down to London in 2013 to follow my dream of working in theatre. Having started out performing, I quickly found I enjoyed all aspects of making theatre happen, including tour booking and producing. And though these days I’m more often found behind a computer than waiting in the wings, I’m ready and willing to be called upon for any Tall Stories understudy duty! 

What do you do at Tall Stories?

I organise the tours for Tall Stories’ productions, making sure as many people in the UK (and sometimes beyond!) get to see the shows. I communicate with theatre programmers across the country, informing them which productions are going to be touring, when. I help interested venues book these shows into their programme over dates which work for them, whilst also trying to be mindful of how it will fit within the surrounding schedule. 

What are your favourite stories?

My favourite stories are ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ by Norton Juster and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’. I remember reading ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ as a child and being transported by its weird and wonderful magic! I also loved ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ for similar reasons and with its themes of quarantine and friendship, it feels even more relatable in recent times! 

Olivia Jacobs

Artistic Associate and Co-founder

Meet Olivia

What’s your story?

Writer Margaret Atwood said, “We all become stories one day.” I love that – we all have unique stories, and form part of hundreds of bigger stories too. My story involves an English/Drama degree, training at CSSD, working for Soho Theatre, Besht Tellers (a Jewish storytelling company); Black Theatre Co-operative, and as Artistic Director of Camden People’s Theatre. It also involves founding Tall Stories with my friend Toby; a fella called Jon; two children and a puppy.

What do you do at Tall Stories?

Originally a co-founder and co-director of the company, I spent 24 years working alongside Toby and our amazing team to steer the artistic policy of the company, to work on strategy and development and to choose which new shows we created. Nowadays I’ve stepped back a little and work on specific projects for the company, directing productions or managing projects as and when they need me. I hope I’ll continue to be involved as the company continues its brilliant adventures.

What are your favourite stories?

This is changeable. Originally it was the ‘Mr Men’ Series (in particular ‘Mr Tickle’), which my folks used to read to me at bedtime. After that pretty much anything by Roald Dahl, then ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and after that ‘Catch 22’. And I’ve always remained fond of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ – wise old bear.

Trustees

Penelope Daly (chair)

Meet Penelope

What’s your story?

Starlight, camp fire, melodious voices – my love of storytelling grew from my upbringing in Zambia. Speaking Bemba before English, my African connections are strong.

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

Combining my background with an adult life living internationally, I bring to the board the diversity of my multi-cultural experiences. I also bring expertise in leadership, strategy and governance gained from leading organisations and supporting business scale-up programmes.

What are your favourite stories?

‘Hot Hippo’, ‘Crafty Chameleon’ and all the books by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway.

Steve Cowton (vice chair)

Meet Steve

What’s your story?

I was born in Northumberland and have worked in most areas of professional theatre (front of house, technical and admin) before winding up as Head of Theatres at The Lowry – in many ways my perfect job. When I’m not in a theatre I can often be found watching cricket – or more realistically sheltering from the rain. 

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

I think my role on the Board is to represent the promoters and venues who book Tall Stories shows. I have thirty years’ experience of programming venues at all scales and across the subsidised and commercial sectors. Also because of my role, I tend to see a lot of theatre of all types which enables me to bring a sense of perspective to board meetings.

What are your favourite stories?

My favourite stories have happy endings. 

Annabel Arndt

Meet Annabel

What’s your story?

Part of my childhood was being told stories every evening. I love children’s theatre and all theatre as an escape, allowing audiences to enjoy performance on their own terms. I’m currently readjusting after a recent invisible disability. Two decades ago I was on a computer course with Olivia and Toby when they showed me a recently published book and asked if I thought it would make a good show. It was ‘The Gruffalo’. The rest is history.

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

I have worked in theatre management for a long time and now lecture in cultural and arts management. My particular interests are staff support and development, and increasing diversity in theatre. 

What are your favourite stories?

The first book I really remember was read to me by my father – ‘The Wonderful Adventures of Nils’ by Selma Lagerlof, about a boy who learns about the world from riding around on the back of a goose. My father also used to make up fabulous imaginative stories about three witches called Raghild, Faghild and Stonehild. I wish I could remember them properly so I could write them down or even see them turned into theatre. 

James Jones

Meet James

What’s your story?

Learning at an early age that I couldn’t sing or dance, and later on that enthusiasm is no substitute for talent, I was forced to draw a line under an otherwise promising stage career. Since then, I have spent 30 years as an entertainment lawyer specialising in theatre. My clients include leading producers; I still hope that one day they’ll overlook my shortcomings as a performer and cast me as the grumpy director in ‘A Chorus Line’. 

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

I hope I am seen by the rest of the Board as a valuable source of legal and commercial knowledge, but I suspect my innate aversion to risk means I am the Eeyore of the Board. 

What are your favourite stories?

I have fond memories of the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ books, although naturally I always preferred James to Thomas. And, of course, any ‘Winnie the Pooh’ story where Eeyore is proven to have been right all along.

Toby Park

Meet Toby

What’s your story?

I was raised by wolves in the forests of Leamington Spa, where they fed me wild berries and the sulphurous waters of Warwickshire! Despite this (or perhaps because of it) I’ve always loved playing music and being on the stage – especially making people laugh – so I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very funny people in the company that I made with them, called Spymonkey. We make very silly, funny, and quite often disastrous theatre.

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

I was originally told it was to make cake, but I haven’t made any cake for a few years and no-one has noticed. In fact, they give me biscuits! I try to help Tall Stories with any challenges that they might have running their shows. They tell us about new ideas they’ve had, or ways to make their audiences laugh or sigh or be astonished, and we help them to make those shiny new things happen.

What are your favourite stories?

My favourites growing up were ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and ‘Danny the Champion of the World’, both by Roald Dahl – because they featured small boys like me, but doing unlikely and daring things. My children speak German and English, and when they were small we drove a lot between different grandparents, so we had audiobooks of ‘Pettersson und Findus’ (about a cat and an old man in Sweden) in German, and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ in English, on repeat.

Rachel Tackley

Meet Rachel

What’s your story?

Even as a child I was determined to work in theatre, though I have no idea why, as nobody in my family was remotely interested. I knew I didn’t want to be on stage (nobody deserves to see that!) and I was fortunate to discover arts management before it was something you could get a degree in. I’ve been lucky to work in theatre all my adult life, producing work which has taken me literally all over the world.

What’s your role as a trustee of Tall Stories?

I think my experience of producing and touring theatre makes me a useful sounding board for the team. I hope I am able to offer support and occasionally point out the wood from the trees. I am a critical friend. And a huge fan.

What are your favourite stories?

As a child I loved making up stories, and reading the poems of AA Milne – they were like scenes from bigger stories that I could create in my head. I used to make up feminist fairy tales for my children when they were small, more for my amusement than theirs I expect. These days I mostly read plays, lots of them. 

Company members

Aaron Millard • Abbey Norman • Adam Bampton-Smith • Adam McClelland • Alan Park • Alastair Chisholm • Alex Clay • Alexandra Harman • Alex Scott Fairley • Alex Perkins • Alex Tregear • Alice Parsloe • Alicia Marsden • Alix Rainsby • Althea Burey • Amit Sharma • Amy Darcy • Amy Harris • Amy Tobias • Andrew Gorman • Andrew Hoggarth • Andrew Holloway • Andrew Ivanov • Andrew Mudie • Andrew Paton • Andrew Simeon • Andy Bainbridge • Andy Shaw • Andy Shewan • Angela Laverick • Anna Delchev • Anna Park • Anna Wheatley • Annabel Arndt • Ashley Illman • Ashley Sean-Cook • Athan Osborne • Austin Mitchel Hewitt • Becky Barry • Becky Kitter • Becky-Dee Trevenen • Bex Allinson • Ben Caplan • Ben Cutler • Ben Frimstone • Benjamin Luke • Ben Phillips • Ben Richardson • Bernhard Niechotz • Bethan Mair Hughes • Bryony Shanahan • Caroline Beckman • Caroline Garland • Cathryn Gleeson • Catriona Mackenzie • Catriona Stirling • Ceili Freeman • Charlie Hodsdon • Charlie Guest • Charlie Young • Charlotte Cooper • Charlotte Lund • Charlotte Mafham • Charlotte Thompson • Cheryle Hansen • Chloe Kenward • Chris Fossey • Chris Gunter • Chris Ratcliffe • Chris Sharp • Christopher Smart • Claire Knight • Clare Fischer • Clare Macmillan • Clare McKenna • Colin Adrian • Connor Bloom • Cosmo Cooper • Dale Wylde • Damien Warren Smith •  Dan Armstrong • Dan Foxsmith • Daniel Naddafy • Dan Schunmann • Danny Hendrix • Danny Schlesinger • Darren Seed • David Ahmad • David Covey • David Garrud • David Lasserson • Dawn Hudson • Derek Elroy • Dominic Gee Burch • Dominic Mitchell • Duncan Foster • Duncan MacInnes • Elaine Faulkner • Elizabeth Park • Ellen Chivers • Ellie Bell • Elliot Rodriguez • Emilio Iannucci • Em Williams • Emily Essery • Emily Flynn • Emma Crowley-Bennett • Emma Eldridge-Doyle • Emma MacLennan • Emma Manton • Emma Nairne • Eva Tausig • Felix Hayes • Fiona Putnam • Fiona McCulloch • Fionnuala Dorrity • Frank Harrison • Gareth Farley • George Gallagher • Georgia Wall • Glyn Williams • Graeme Reid • Gus Houssein • Hannah Broadway • Hannah Miller • Harriet Billington • Harry Lobek • Heather Rose • Heather Saunders • Heather Snaith • Helen Mugridge • Henry Everett • Hester Musson • Hilda Gardner • Isla Shaw • Ivan Unwin • Jack Kelly • Jackie Drew • Jake Addley • Jake Waring • James Gitsham • James Jones • James Whiteside • Jeni Draper • Jennifer Slapp • Jeremy Randall • Jesse Briton • Joanne Harvey • Joe Darke • Joe Hancock • Joe McNamara • John Byrne • John Terry • Jon Fiber • Jonathan Race • Jools Walls • Jordan Turner • Joseph Carey • Josie Cerise • Julian Millard • Justin Goad • Kai Simmons • Karen Wood • Karina Garnett • Kate Golledge • Katie Avis • Kay Hesford • Kelly Bibb • Kevin Dunn • Kirei Samuel • Kobna Holdbrook-Smith • Laura Lewis • Laura Murphy • Laura Sydonie • Lauren Scott-Berry • Lauren Silver • Lenny Peters • Lesley Cook • Liam Lane • Linn Johannson • Lisa Aitken • Lisa McLean • Louise Mai Newberry • Lora Davies • Luanna Priestman • Lucy Atkinson • Lucy Grace • Lucy Troy • Lucy Tuck • Lucy Wood • Luke McConnell • Luke Murphy • Marie-Therese Devine • Mark Munday • Mark Peachey • Martyn Dempsey • Martin Rodges • Mary Pope • Matt Dudley • Matt Jopling • Matt Llewellyn Smith • Matt Tweddle • Michael Holden • Michael Lambourne • Michael Jean Marain • Michael Neale • Michaela O’Connor • Mira Dovreni • Morag Cross • Morgan Large • Naomi Said • Natalia Scorer • Natalie James-Fox • Nathan Guy • Neil Connolly • Neil Gavin • Neil Jennings • Nick Ash • Nichola Evans • Nicola Harrison • Nigel Pilkington • Nuala Cavanagh • Oliver Swinton • Olivia Jacobs • Osian Griffiths • Owen G Bevan • Owen Guerin • Pady O’Connor • Patrick Bridgman • Paul Clarke • Paul Curley • Paul Lancaster • Paul Matania • Penelope Daly • Peter Harrison • Peter Steele • Phil Bentley • Phil Yarrow • Polly Sullivan • Rachael Spence • Rachel Benson • Rachel Pryce • Rachel Tackley • Rebecca Newman • Rhiannon Wallace • Rob Copeland • Robert Evans • Robert Penny • Robin Hilton • Robin Price • Robyn Wilson • Rosamund Hine • Ross Hugill • Ross Sutherland • Rowan Talbot • Ruth Hutchinson • Saint • Sally Ann Staunton • Sam Buitekant • Sam Donovan • Sam Conway • Samantha Barron • Sara Hillier • Sarah Calver • Sarah Durham • Sarah Tranter • Sarah Goddard • Sarah Kameela Impey • Sarah Manton • Sarah Marsh • Sarah Thomas Lane • Sarah-Louise Young • Scott Armstrong • Scott Ironside • Scott Penrose • Sean Kempton • Sharon McArdle • Sharon Morwood • Sheila McClenaghan • Sinead MacManus • Siobhan Higgins • Sophie Alice • Stephan Boyce • Stephanie Lysé • Steve Brownlie • Steve Cowton • Steve McCourt • Stuart Slavicky • Stuart Barter • Sue Macmillan • Susanna Jennings • Suzanne Robertson • Thomas Warwick • Tim Gilvin • Tim Hibberd • Tim Richey • Tim Stedman • Toby Mitchell • Toby Park • Tom Crook • Tom Gillies • Tom Jude • Tracy Phillips • Verity Clayton • Verity Hewlett • Vikki King • William Croft • Will Evans • William Towler • William Uden • Wyn Williams • Yvette Clutterbuck • Yvonne Stone • Zahra Premji