Our work takes inspiration from life as we see it, experience it and imagine it to be. Taking Movement and the Poetic Body as a starting point, as an ensemble of actors - creators, musicians, puppeteers, choreographers and visual artists we create a constant dialogue between our artistic forms and practises and strive to go beyond their boundaries blending Physical Theatre, Dance, Puppetry and the Visual Arts to tell stories that are relevant to a rapidly changing physical and social environment. We research and express the artistic vision of life within us and outside of us.
Since its founding year in 2013 the company has collaborated with various theatres (ex. Little Angel Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, etc) and festivals (Voila Europe, Migration Matters) in UK and abroad (Castillo Theatre NY) and been supported by The Arts Council and other organisations.
In 2015 we’ve been a residency company at Institute Internationale de la Marionette researching Bunraku Puppetry for community development.
In 2017 we made our debut as company in Edinburgh Fringe with our puppetry show ‘Dark Matter’ and was a sold out show at Greenside Venues engaging intergenerational audiences including people living with dementia, carers and professionals raising awareness around End of Life and Dementia and opening dialogues for the taboo subject of death and dying.
Mayra Stergiou - Executive and Artistic Director
Mayra was born in Evia, Greece. She is a Theatre Director, Performance Artist and Dramatherapist. She trained in Lecoq Devised Theatre and Performance at London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) and in Dramatherapy at University of Derby. She also trained in Bunraku Puppetry and collaborated with prominent puppetry directors such as Robin Guiver (War Horse), Mem Morrison (Arts Admin), and with the Institute Internationale de la Marionnette (France) as resident researcher. As Artistic Director of Vertebra Theatre she directed and co-produced puppetry show about dementia Dark Matter (Edinburgh Fringe 2017), dance-puppetry At The Heart of Things (Castillo Theatre NY and Voila Festival 2017), An Ice Thing to Say (Migration Matters Festival 2017) and curated Homeland 2day Festival (Nour Festival 2016). She also works as Dramatherapist and Participatory Artist developing devised performance, puppetry and animation film projects with diverse communities in social, health care, prison and mental health settings. Recent Directing Credits include: Sisyphys Distressing by Metapraxis Ensemble, Two Heads on a first date (Chelsea Theatre), Maggie (Lost Theatre) and assistant Dir. 'Fine and Dandy' (Queer Collective, Arcola Theatre). She has been teaching workshops on Neutral Mask and Puppetry and is currently a PhD candidate at Guildhall School of Music and Drama researching The Medical Body, Visual Theatre and Trauma.
Gregory Emfietzis - Music Composer / Sound Designer
Emfietzis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. He has a degree in Music Science and Art at the University of Macedonia. He studied composition with Christopher Fox at Huddersfield University and with Fox, Richard Barrett and Jennifer Walshe at Brunel University.
His music has been performed by leading musicians and ensembles across Europe and North America. Recent performances include, the quintet Fear (not) premiered by ensemble WienBerlin at the Wiener Konzerthaus, the solo cello The Dark Art of Obscurantism -a commission by the London Sinfonietta- performed by Olly Coates, the opera The Darkness of Mistico staged at the Greek National Opera House (Athens), the solo piano DIY 1: the pianist & the lamp performed by Philip Thomas, and Sisyphus Victimised for 9 musicians and video projection premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble. Other groups he has worked with include Apartment House (UK), Asamisimasa (Norway), Greek Contemporary Music Ensemble (Greece), London Contemporary Orchestra (UK), Orkest de Ereprijs (Netherlands) and the Quasars Ensemble (Slovakia). In one of his latest projects, Music Impossible, a ‘magnified’ shadow theatre piece funded by the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub scheme and Arts Council (England), a fairytale story is narrated by musicians themselves as acoustic and visual puppets.
Piedad Albarracin Seiquer - Performer / Choreographer
Piedad is a Spanish artist, born in a city in the south of the country called Murcia. She studied dance at the Professional Conservatory of Dance and Dramatic Art of Murcia. Titled in classical technique (2000-2006) and in contemporary technique (2006-2009). She has a Law Degree (2006-2011), university studies that she carried out at the same time as dance studies.
As a dancer Piedad has worked with national and international artists. In her time in Spain Piedad was a dancer of the Saorin dance company (2006 -2011). Since she moved to London has danced for different choreographers and in different projects and companies. Among them are Abundance (2012), SQxdanza (2012-2015), Watkinsdance (2012), New Movement Collective (2013), Gobbledegook (2013), Protein (2014), Estela Merlos (former Rambert dancer) (2014-2015) and Mbulelo Ndabeni (former Rambert Dancer) (2015), Darren Ellis (2015), Hand Made Dance (2015-2016), Urja Thakore (2016), Terabac Company (2017), Vertebra Theatre (2017/2018) and Patricia Okenwa Dance (2018).
As a choreographer Piedad has done works for both scene and dance videos. Her works have been toured in Spain, England, Holland, Brussels, France, Mexico and Finland. She is currently organizing a project in Murcia as curator for an Alternative Art Space.
Jennie Rawling - Associate Artist/ Puppeteer
Jennie is a puppeteer, actor and Associate Artist of Vertebra Theatre. She trained at East 15 Acting School, the Curious School of Puppetry and Little Angel Theatre, and has worked throughout the UK and in Australia, Sicily, Russia and Spain. Along with performing she is a drama workshop facilitator, and works in particular with non-native English speakers, teaching English through drama and puppetry.
Iria Pizania - Associate Filmmaker / Producer
Iria Pizania is a London-based award-winning film director and producer with a strong focus on fictional short films. Iria was born and raised in Athens, Greece and studied Fine Arts at the University of Ioannina, Greece where she developed an interest in the history of cinema and in filmmaking. She moved to the UK in 2009, studied Filmmaking at Kingston University and has been producing fictional shorts and films for charities, community organisations and corporations alike since. Thematically, her work as a writer/director focuses on the fears and phobias of children and how they overcome these, frequently with the help of magical elements, a deus ex-machina or an imaginary 'friend'. Iria received the Best Director award in 2012 for her graduation film 'China Doll' from the International Digital Film Festival of Athens,Greece and the Bronze Award for Best International Film from the Kala Samruddhi, India for her film 'Tutu & Pointes' in 2018.
Sofia Calmicova - Associate Artist/ Performer
Sofia has been engaging in theatre for most of her conscious lifetime. Starting with a regular attendance and participation in children’s shows through to a five year intense participation in a youth theatre program at JES – a renowned Youth and Children’s Theatre in Stuttgart, Germany to finally graduating with a BA in World Performance at East 15 Acting School and working on a variety of projects in different London Fringe Theatres.
Sofia believes theatre is a strong medium of expression and can reach diverse audiences. It is her mission to tell stories of varied content and cultural background, while focusing on universal human and emotional content.
Sofia’s training and personal multi-cultural upbringing has taught her that the expression of the body can often mean more than words. Hence striving to create content that can be easily performed everywhere and communicate its message without verbal dialogue.
Depi Gorgogiani - Associate Artist/ Dancer
Depi is a Dancer and Movement Director. She trained in Ballet and Contemporary Dance at Rallou Manou Professional Dance School in Athens. Depi holds an MA in Movement Studies from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. In 2016 she trained with Jasmin Vardimon Company. Aside her dance training she studied Mathematics at the University of Athens. Depi worked aside the choreographers Imogen Knight and Siân Williams and her theatre credits as choreographer include projects in the UK and in Greece. As dancer she has worked with the choreographers Jorge Crecis, Polly Bennett, Lucy Cullingford, Jo Meredith, David Lakein and Mariela Nestora being former member of her company YELP (2010-2012). She has performed at the Tate Modern for the Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey and she has collaborated with artists from other disciplines such as the visual artist Monika Oechsler. Depi has been part of the Vertebra Theatre Ensemble since 2017. She has also led dance and movement classes at The Place, Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Arts Ed, East 15 and other university departments in the UK.
Kelly Frost - Associate Puppet Maker
Kelly Frost is a puppet maker. She has collaborated with Little Angel Theatre as a puppet, prop and costume maker for several productions. Most recent "The journey home”, "Paper dolls" and “The night before Christmas”, “Macbeth"and other. She has also collaborated with Around the Glove for the show “Angeleta and Etelvina.” This is the second time she works with Vertebra after “Dark Matter” in 2015. She is a cat mother, flat shoe wearer and a fabulous auntie that organises puppet workshops for children in schools and community settings.
Erene Kaptani - Associate Participatory Artist
Erene Kaptani a participatory performance artist, Anthropologist and Dramatherapist is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology and Theatre in University of Greenwich. Her main focus is on participatory theatre as social intervention and as embodied pedagogy. She employs narrative and movement-based methods in her research practice inspired by improvisation, physical and Forum theatre. She is a member of Playback South Theatre Company and devises performances at Studio Upstairs arts community since 2008. She produced, wrote and performed in Suspended Lives, a play about migrant and refugee lives at Refugee week, Tara Arts and Rich Mix. She is currently creating 'Me? Ijust put British!' with ‘Margins to Centre Stage’ Black mothers group, a performance about the hostile UK environment as well as'Ticking out of the box, a performance about displacement and mental health with Studio Upstairs group. She has published academic papers, visual storytelling and spoken word in journals and media and runs workshops internationally. https://erenekaptani.wordpress.com/