Who We Are
Paper Zoo Theatre Company was formed in September 2005 by graduates and staff of
the BTEC National Award in Acting course at Bradford College. The Company takes its
name from the final performance piece on the year-long course.
December 2005 saw the Company’s debut production, A Christmas Carol, performed
at The Priestley Centre for the Arts. This was followed several months later by Samuel
Beckett’s celebrated play, Waiting for Godot. 2006 ended on a high with a successful
version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night also at The Priestley.
The production received excellent reviews and helped the Company to secure their
first patron – Brian Blessed. We are delighted to have Brian as our patron and would
like to thank him for his ongoing support.
2007 saw the Company tackle the work of Joe Orton, staging his final play, Funeral
Games in May. The success of this production led the Company to expand the project
and offer a double-bill of the troubled playwright’s work. Coupled with Orton’s first play,
The Ruffian on the Stair marked the directorial debut of Laura Milnes who
subsequently took up a place at the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama.
In between the two Orton productions, the Company yearned to perform more of 'the
Bard' and staged Much Ado About Nothing at the Bradford Cathedral - a venue
lending itself perfectly to the play with the first half being performed outside in the
grounds and the second half inside. 2007 ended with our first touring production.
Returning to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol allowed the Company to measure the
distance we had travelled in two short years.
Valentine was the Company's next project. This was entirely devised by members of
the Company. The cabaret-style production of poetry, song and readings was staged
on Valentines Day 2008. The Company then staged a successful tour of George
Orwell's Animal Farm, achieving sell-out status at several venues.
Valentines was then slightly altered and transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe 2008,
which gave the Company the opportunity to develop new skills. 2008 ended with a
challenge for the Company – a complete re-write and modernisation of Leopold Lewis'
The Bells. With a local twist and a completely devised dream sequence, this was a
different move again for the Company.
2009 saw arguably the biggest project yet for Paper Zoo - George Orwell's 1984,
commissioned by the National Media Museum to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the
publication of the novel. Spending six months in rehearsals and planning, the
multimedia production was a great success for the Company and achieved sell-out
status. Paper Zoo enlisted the talents of John Hurt who played the on-screen Big
Brother. Running alongside this fantastic project was a return to Animal Farm; back by
popular demand and linked with the National Media Museum's 'Animalism' exhibition.
August 2010 saw a return to the Edinburgh Fringe with 2020Vision which received
good reviews, including three stars in The Scotsman. This thought-provoking and
timely production led to some interesting discussions with audience members and
fellow Fringe performers, and there are plans to develop the piece further. Watch this
Founder members of Paper Zoo, Ben Eagle and Martin Knowles both embarked on
new ventures in 2011. Ben successfully secured a place at The Royal Central School
of Speech and Drama and moved to London in the autumn. Martin, who completed his
degree in film-making in 2010, has set up his own production company. He has
directed a short film, developed further scripts, and directed several plays since.
Having graduated from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2011,
Laura Milnes has gained experience as an arts administrator, producer, artist and
dramaturg in London. Full details of her work and current projects can be found on her
After a well-deserved break over the winter, the company toured Dennis Potter's
acclaimed play Blue Remembered Hills throughout June, July, August and September
2011 taking in venues in Halifax, Knaresborough, Settle, Saltaire, Otley and Bradford.
Paper Zoo followed this in 2012 with their next production: William Shakespeare's The
Tempest. This was very well received and played to appreciative audiences in Halifax,
Bradford, Leeds and Otley. A brief return to Blue Remembered Hills for a one-off
performance at The Pines festival in The Lake District in June was a real adventure.
The Company then began preparation for their original adaptation of Charles Dickens'
classic novel Hard Times. This production enjoyed a successful tour throughout
Spring and Summer 2013. It was then re-cast and toured again throughout the Spring
and Summer of 2014 including a performance at the Criccieth Festival in Wales.
2015 started with rehearsals for a new adventure for the Zoo: Commedia Dell'arte.
Working with master mask-maker David Griffiths the Company learned the skills and
stamina to perform in this anarchic style. The Dentist was written and directed by
David Griffiths and toured between February and April of this year.
During 2016 the Company worked on a production of Claire McIntyre's play My Heart's
A Suitcase that toured to several venues around Yorkshire. This important play deals
with the effects of materialism on two friends who stay in an empty flat in Brighton. The
production was directed by Stuart Davies.
2017 sees Paper Zoo return to a classic Northern story, Billy Liar, and will be touring
throughout the Spring and Summer. We are delighted that this production sees the
return of Martin Sherlock-Knowles as director. He has brought his love of the source
material and an original filmed sequence to the production. We look forward to sharing
it with our audiences.
Paper Zoo Theatre Company is
currently made up of 5 active
members. They are:
Click on a name for a
detailed biography of each
members of the