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Benedict Ayrton

Programme Leader - Acting

Ben is Programme Leader – Acting for SPAA. He is a theatre, film and dance theatre artist, director, educator and writer. He trained as an actor in the UK and was a young member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre before embarking on a directing career.

He was Assistant Director at the Everyman Theatre and Salisbury Playhouse (1989-1991), Associate Director for both the Gateway and Contact Theatres (1992-1999), Artistic Director for Theatre Venture (2000-2004) and Chief Executive for NAYT (2004-2006). Ben rejoined the RSC as an Associate Practitioner in 2007 and in 2009 became Executive Producer for NE-Generation, the North East England cultural programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ben’s writing career has seen him work across theatre, television and film, working with BBC Drama and Continuing Drama, Channel 4 and a range of independent companies. He holds a Master’s Degree Distinction in Creative Writing from Northumbria University.

In 2014, Ben set up his own company, State of Grace, in North East England. The company makes inter-disciplinary work, trains artists and others and builds meeting grounds for performative expression across the UK and overseas.

Ben’s international work includes close collaborations with Augusto Boal (Brazil), Teatr Piesn Kozla (Poland), Odin Teatret (Denmark), Theatre for Everybody (Gaza), Masrah El Tejh (Algeria), Five Arts (Malaysia), Growing Up Theatre (Serbia), Mostar Youth Theatre (Bosnia Herzegovina), the Tribes Project (US), Savanna Trust (Zimbabwe) and Market Theatre, Hillbrow Theatres and Alexandra Youth in Action Ensemble (South Africa).

Ben’s work as an educationalist, teacher and trainer has seen him working with Northumbria, Manchester, Durham, Teesside, Chester and Manchester Metropolitan Universities, Newcastle College University Centre, Stockton Riverside College and a range of drama schools.

Ben takes inspiration from everyone he works with and is most happy in a space, working with people from across the world and from diverse backgrounds – SPAA gives him this opportunity, and he is humbled and privileged to be part of the team.