At Damn Cheek, we’re fortunate to have such a talented, diverse and experienced group of people on our Advisory Board. Here, 2 of our recently appointed members – Stephen Thompson and Ali Pottinger – introduce themselves.

Stephen Thompson

My name is Stephen Thompson and I joined Damn Cheek’s Advisory Board in October 2021.

Despite being fairly new on the Board, I have been involved with the company for a few years now. My introduction to it came when I participated in a course run by the company’s very own Darren (Cheek).

I work as a freelancer as part of lighting and stage crew departments in London’s West End theatres, and when I met Darren I had also begun to write plays. He kindly offered to read some of my work and so, out of the blue, began my creative and professional relationship with the Damn Cheek community.

The relationship is a 2-way street: my work has been performed by the company and I have helped out with my professional skills whenever I can.

The warmth and support of everyone involved has made me feel I have found a very rewarding place to be. This is a theatre company with integrity, passion and a core commitment to working with communities, all of which are very important to me.

Consequently, I am now very pleased to have an even more active part in the continuing growth of the company.

Did I have any hesitation in accepting Damn Cheek’s offer of a place on the Advisory Board?

Well, I think you know the answer to that…

Ali Pottinger

I’m Ali – or Alison if I’ve done something wrong! Echoes of my Mum’s voice there. Or if I want to be more formal. But you can call me Ali.

I’ve got what is known as a portfolio career – stage manager by trade, BSL/English interpreter as a second career. And I’m a visiting tutor at Rose Bruford College – it feels very rewarding that my experience as a stage manager is valued and that I can pass on some of what I know to a new generation.

I met Darren (Cheek) in 2006 when he was in Under Milk Wood for Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company. I was in the rehearsal room with my interpreting hat on, and we hit it off straight away, then didn’t really see much of each other for ages, then met again randomly on a bus! So Damn Cheek came into my life.

I love the shows themselves and the mix of people attending. The Door and The Speech were the first ones I saw – brilliant stuff. And the Zoom productions have been a real salve in these uncertain times, showing what can be done with newer technologies. Our 2021 summer show Passion for the Planet, for which I interpreted, was just wonderful – right up my street. 

And so here I am, being invited onto the Advisory Board. Who, me? Wow! I am honoured and delighted to be of service to the company, whose ideals and aims are very much my own. Arts made not just for but most importantly *with* people, some of whom may not necessarily feel they are ‘allowed’ to be involved.

I look forward to seeing us increase the access of shows for Deaf and disabled people – which is already happening with BSL-interpreted and audio-described performances.

As the phrase is, ‘onward and upward’. Here’s to Damn Cheek!