Pilot Theatre

(York, United Kingdom)

Pilot Theatre are an international touring theatre company based in York, UK. They’re committed to creating high quality mid-scale theatre for younger audiences, and will be many people’s very first encounter with this form.

A phtotograph of the De Grey Rooms in York at night-time.

Based at York Theatre Royal, UK, since 2002, they are one of very few national touring mid-scale companies to be based outside London and are therefore able to offer unique training and work opportunities for artists and young people in mid-scale touring that they may be unable to get anywhere else in the region.

Pilot also make work outside of traditional theatre buildings, where their projects pursue a relationship with audiences that is often playful, interactive and participatory.

They are always curious about our ongoing and changing relationship with technology, and often explore this theme.

Across all of their projects they seek to create a cultural space where young adults can encounter, express and interrogate big ideas, powerfully relevant to our lives right now.

PlayOn! Team
Esther Richardson, Artistic Director
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has been the Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre since 2016. In this role her work has been to reinvigorate the companies national touring, and to integrate the technological work of the company into the art.

Pilot’s major recent productions have included acclaimed adaptations of Crongton KnightsNoughts and Crosses and Brighton Rock, as well as work which has explored interactive theatre and the fusing of immersive technology into live performance.

Over almost a twenty-year career, Esther has directed and/or produced over thirty productions. She is also a filmmaker and a renowned UK dramaturg who has nurtured many award-winning plays and playwrights.

Career highlights include: creating the Momentum Young Writers’ Festival, nominated for The Stage’s award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre (2006); co-directing the first theatrical response to the economic crash of 2009 for Soho Theatre (mentioned as a highlight of Michael Billington’s year); adapting and directing the short film The Cake, which represented the UK at the Women in Film and Television International Showcase (2012); and directing the sold-out run of Noughts and Crosses that played to transfixed teen audiences all around the UK (2019).

Ben Kirman, Senior Lecturer in Game Design
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Ben’s background is in creative technologies: before joining academia he worked designing and developing digital prototypes for a wide range of clients including the BBC, Philips, Telecom Italia, the NHS, Honda and many others in the digital media industries. These prototypes included games, interactive TV, rich web apps, mobile apps, and interactive art. 

In 2006 he joined the EU FP6 PASION (Psychologically Augmented Social Interaction Over Networks) project to lead the game design and development thread, and from 2010 – 2015 worked as a Senior Lecturer in Game Design at the University of Lincoln, as Leader of the Computer Games Production programme, and moved to the University of York’s department of Theatre, Film, TV and Interactive Media in January 2016.

Ben’s PhD was in social aspects of game play, and identified links between patterns of social interaction and game mechanics. His research interests are around design for unusual interactive experiences. He takes a multidisciplinary approach and collaborate widely with scholars from computer science, psychology, human-computer interaction and the arts.

Lucy Hammond, Project Producer
Headshot of Lucy Hammond

Lucy is currently Project Producer for Pilot Theatre. Her projects have included several immersive plays and experiences including A Restless Place in some eighteenth century cells, a gig with John Foxx in a Cold War Bunker and the interactive theatre show Traitor, directed by Esther Richardson and Cecilie Lundsholt, where audiences broke into a building after dark. Lucy has also presented and hosted at several conferences including Culture 24: Let’s Get Real, The Immersive Storytelling Symposium at Liverpool John Moores University, Sharing is Caring: Shared Experiences in Mixed Reality panel at Tribeca Film Festival, the BFI Film Academy and PlatformSHIFT+ Creative Forums in Tallinn and Budapest. As Creative Producer and Director, Lucy’s most recent project, also called Traitor (adapted from the play) combines, virtual reality, film and a live actor. The piece recently premiered in competition at Tribeca Film Festival 2019.

Sam Johnson, Digital Officer
Black and white headshot of a bald man, early 30s, wearing glasses. He's sat smiling in a cafe.

Digital Officer at Pilot Theatre. I focus on the sharing and creation of content across digital platforms, including social media and our website. My work includes aspects of graphic design, video and sound editing, filming and photography. All of this contributes to the digital marketing and educational resources that accompany Pilot’s productions.

Direction
Mandy Smith, Executive Producer
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has been Producer at Pilot Theatre, England, since 2000. Prior to that she was Education Director for Sheffield Theatres, Artistic Director at Humberside Theatre in Education, Associate Artist for Nottingham Playhouse Roundabout Company and also first worked as a Stage Manager and Actor for numerous theatres and companies in England. She has directed and/or produced over 60 productions – mostly for young audiences.
She has a BA in English and Drama from the University of Exeter and a Post Graduate training in Education from the University of Nottingham.

Esther Richardson, Artistic Director
http://play-on.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Esther-320x320.png

has been the Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre since 2016. In this role her work has been to reinvigorate the companies national touring, and to integrate the technological work of the company into the art.

Pilot’s major recent productions have included acclaimed adaptations of Crongton Knights, Noughts and Crosses and Brighton Rock, as well as work which has explored interactive theatre and the fusing of immersive technology into live performance.

Over almost a twenty-year career, Esther has directed and/or produced over thirty productions. She is also a filmmaker and a renowned UK dramaturg who has nurtured many award-winning plays and playwrights.

Career highlights include: creating the Momentum Young Writers’ Festival, nominated for The Stage’s award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre (2006); co-directing the first theatrical response to the economic crash of 2009 for Soho Theatre (mentioned as a highlight of Michael Billington’s year); adapting and directing the short film The Cake, which represented the UK at the Women in Film and Television International Showcase (2012); and directing the sold-out run of Noughts and Crosses that played to transfixed teen audiences all around the UK (2019).