Meet the Team
Maria Oshodi worked as a script writer for theatre from 1984-1992. Her plays including ‘The S Bend’, ‘Blood Sweat and Fears’, ‘From Choices to Chocolate’, ‘Here Comes a Candle’ and ‘Hound’ were produced by national touring companies such as Talawa and Graeae, and later published by Longmans, Metheuen and John Murray.
After graduating with a 1st BA honors in Drama and English she worked in arts management, for BBC drama production and in 1997 founded Extant, the leading performing arts organization in the UK, managed for and by visually impaired professional arts practitioners.
As the Artistic Director of the company for the last 25 years, she has led Extant in becoming an artistic innovator around performance, access and debate regarding the inclusion of visually impaired people in the performing arts. She has directed Extant’s touring productions in a range of settings including site-specific, traditional venues and art and tech installations, as well as led on the company’s participation, research and training strategies.
Originating from Canada, Shannon McNab is a triple threat performer with a Musical Theatre Degree from New York City. She spent many years performing and touring shows in North America and South East Asia before moving to the UK and falling in Love with London! She set up Simply Smiley Productions in 2005 and never looked back.
Her dream was to write and produce inspiring, educational, original family theatre that insisted on audience participation. This is where she learned about the great power of traditional, English Pantomime – she knew instinctively that this genre was for her!
Her mission became to bring the magic of Panto to children everywhere and not just at Christmas but all year through. After 18 years of touring panto nationally Simply Smiley have inspired and educated hundreds of thousands of children with the magic of Panto.
Paula Connolly is a visually impaired actor, director and writer who also has hearing loss.
Paula first became involved with Extant in 2019 on their Pathways Directors course. During Pathways Directors, she developed and directed a five-minute piece featuring built-in audio description as part of the story. She continued my involvement with Extant and eventually completed the Pathways Writers course in 2022.
When Extant advertised an opportunity to co-write a panto Paula jumped at the chance as she has always loved Pantos. She is very proud to be a co-writer and part of the Superpower Panto Team.
Kelly has worked with Simply Smiley Productions since 2010 as a children’s entertainer, workshop facilitator, writer and in a number of other weird and wonderful creative capacities. Since Extant and SSP joined forces on various projects, Kelly has been passionate about learning and developing her skill set with actors and creatives from the visually impaired community.
Whilst acting is the route of her career since graduating the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2010, Kelly is also the in-house writer for German touring theatre company, The Phoenix theatre, for whom she creates 1 hour adaptations of interactive Shakespeare productions.
Pantomime runs through Kelly’s veins from watching her Father performing with their local am-dram group in South Wales since she was 2 years old. She is also expecting the arrival of her first baby during rehearsals for Super Power Panto and is delighted that it will be her baby’s first show!
Jasmin Thien is a fully blind, Bruneian born Chinese actor, writer, spoken word artist and stand up comedian. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Education, English, Drama and the Arts, she now works as a freelance performer and creative primarily in London but she will never pass up an excuse to travel around the country.
Steven developed a passion for performing at a young age and went on to graduate from East 15 about 25 years ago. One of his first jobs out of drama school was in a touring panto, doing five seasons with them, so Steven is delighted to be returning to panto.
In 2014 he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that caused sight loss. He thought his acting career was over, but he quickly found Extant, they helped him to see things differently and his career continued to flourish.
In his spare time, Steven enjoys sports, comedy, reading and podcasts. He also volunteers for a variety of sight loss organisations and is a member of Equity’s Deaf & Disabled Members Committee.
TV & Film credits include: Silent Witness, Eastenders, Chewing Gum and Holmes & Watson.
Theatre includes: Catching the Ghost (Extant), Where Will we Live (Southwark Playhouse), Journey’s End (Greenwich Theatre), Iceberg Right Ahead! (Upstairs at the Gatehouse) and Foreskin’s Lament (Pleasance Edinburgh).
Angela is very excited to be ‘zooming’ and ‘zapping’ her way around the country with Superpower panto!
Angela has worked on various projects with Extant and Simply Smiley Productions since 2015, including Panto in your PJ’s (Extant and Sense Arts) and Christmas on the Jungle (Simply Smiley). She has toured nationally with The Tempest and As You Like It (The Pantaloons) and internationally with First Love (Halem Theatre) and is 1/8th of the comedy improv troupe, Pinch Punch Impro! (The Improvised Pantomime & Murder on the Improvised Express).
Her love of speaking lots lead her to produce and host, The Sydenham Arts Podcast. She can’t wait to get March off to a ‘flying’ start with this show!
Chris began his Cabaret Performance career as Donald Levange, Host & MC of Star Follies, a Camp and Frolicsome Singalong-A-Sheet-Music-Show specifically created for the LGBTQ+ Community and performed on the London Cabaret circuit.
Over the last 14 years Chris has worked with the Children’s Theatre Company, Simply Smiley Productions, Creating and Performing in their Magical Christmas Pantomimes, and Starring as a whole host of Characters including Father Flatulence, Professor Crackers, Mrs. Cookson and Chip O’Lata.
More recently, Chris has had the privilege of working with Extant to help explore accessibility for visually impaired performers and audiences within Pantomime Performance.
Chloe Driver is an actress and comedian from London. Chloe started her training age 5 in The Lila Vincent School of Arts and graduated from Chichester University in 2006. She has since has performed on stage and on screen in multiple productions.
Her stage credits include Mark Camoletti’s Ding Dong as Maria performing in Vienna in 2014 and in her one woman show ‘Chloe Driver Can’t Drive’ at Edinburgh Festival in 2017. She has performed Panto with Simply Smiley Productions since 2008 and completed the last tour ‘Ice Capade’ in 2022.
Her TV credits include Trains (2022), Call The Midwife (2021), Eastenders (2019), People Just do Nothing (2015) and Black Mirror (2011). She has also recently appeared in a comedy sketch with Jamie Redknapp.
Rhianna Molina is an up and coming set designer, trained at the University of the Arts London.
Rhianna has a keen interest in pushing the boundaries of theatre, and in creating a more inclusive space, particularly in the immersive theatre scene.
Play is a very important part of her practice, and she believes in experimentation and it’s positive impact on creativity. Rhianna enjoys exploring the many different ways in which theatre can be used as a beacon for change, and how it can give voice to many different issues.
Jo Paul is a London based artist, designer, trainer and creative access consultant for arts organisations across the UK.
Jo’s designs have been seen in shows from Edinburgh Fringe to the Royal Opera House. She completed an MA in Scenography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London. Her personal art work has been exhibited in various galleries and spaces in the UK. Her work, is textile based three dimensional works and installations, often uses delicate fabrics or threads as a metaphor for fragility, vulnerability, grief and human connection.
Companies Jo has collaborated with include Emergency Exit Arts, Candoco, Diverse City, Extant, Graeae, Heart FM/ Plusnet, Spare Tyre, East London Dance, Fevered Sleep and Proud & Loud Arts to name a few.
Crin Claxton has designed lighting for live events for over twenty five years.
Her designs have appeared at small, mid-scale and No 1 venues across the UK and abroad. She has extensive lighting design and relights experience, and a strong background in touring theatre, choosing to support new, dynamic and political work in theatre, dance and music.
Companies Crin regularly works with include Clean Break, Spare Tyre, Vital Xposure, Access All Areas and Drunken Chorus.
Ian lives in South East London with his partner. He is a 58 year old visually impaired white male with blue eyes and brown hair. His pronouns are he, him.
He studied music technology at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford between 2005 and 2007.
He has been working in the audio field for the last 16 years and has experienced a variety of audio based projects. He’s been producing a podcast for Disability arts Online for the last 4 years. Most recently he’s worked with the Arts Council, and the Europe Beyond Access project for the British Council. He also recently participated in the Extant Pathways Crew and Design course which has led to several further opportunities in theatre sound design and education.
Having graduated from RADA with a degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management,
specialising in Stage Management, Jaimie is excited to be on tour with Extant, having worked
with them on Past Life at the Bloomsbury Festival.
This is Jaimie’s first professional Panto, and he
has relished also working with Simply Smiley Productions.
Currently working full time at Monopoly Lifesized as Deputy Stage Manager; his professional credits include SM on Small Change (Omnibus Theatre), SM on Rachel (Zoom Production), ASM Props on La Cenerentola (Peacock Theatre), Technical SM on various productions (Chapel Playhouse Theatre), ASM on
International Opera Awards 2019 (Sadler’s Wells Theatre) and 2018 (English National Opera).
Stage Management Placement
Molly is currently studying Technical Theatre and Stage Management at RADA, specialising in Stage Management and Design.
Her recent work includes Assistant Stage Manager on “One Young World” (Manchester Central), Deputy Stage Manager on “The Effect” by Lucy Prebble (RADA) and Stage Manager on the Book on “MA- Lab: Labworks” (RADA). She has really enjoyed working with Extant and Simply Smiley and has learnt how to incorporate and centre accessibility on and off stage.
Costume design and props by Simply Smiley Productions.
Produced by Extant and Simply Smiley Productions
Extant is the UK’s leading professional performing arts company, exploring visual impairment to create unique and innovative artistic experiences, that places visually impaired people at the centre of all it does: from the productions we create, to the artists we employ or support to build stronger careers in the arts industry, to the audiences we perform to and the participants we work with.
Founded in 1997, and meaning the opposite of extinct, Extant was the inspired name chosen by a group of professional visually impaired artists, for the emergence of a new dynamic space, intended to redress the invisibility of blind artists and explore new creative territories. Since then, The Company’s strength has been its drive to innovate. Creating exciting, shared experiences for visually impaired and sighted audiences, that uncover new collaborations, forms and practises. It’s stage productions push conventional boundaries, challenge perceptions and traditional methodologies, and present across multiple formats: traditional stage settings, outdoor arts and high-tech installations. The Company’s work falls into four main but inter-linked programmes; professional artistic productions, audience access and training, Supporting emerging visually impaired artists and participation. In this way we extend and evolve artistic practice and debate.
About Simply Smiley Productions
Simply Smiley’s team of fabulous entertainers come from all sorts of creative backgrounds; actors, circus performers, musicians, singers, writers, artists and dancers to name but a few. They have been delivering fun and laughter since 2005 and absolutely love the joy of entertaining children. Whether that’s through bespoke educational Pantomime’s, created by an in-house team of writers or private parties to ensure that special little someone has a celebration they’ll never forget!