The Paper Birds Theater Company
The Paper Birds Theatre Company

About The Paper Birds

The Paper Birds theatre company has been making work with and for communities since 2003. We make theatre using themes that feel important in the here and now and believe that process is as significant and empowering as product. We are known for our use of verbatim and bringing multiple, diverse voices to the fore. We believe people have more in common than that which divides them, and we seek to unite and bring about dialogue in society through our work. 

Each year up to 20,000 young people around the world engage with our work as participants, audiences or co-authors. Our digital impact has doubled during 2020-21, and continues to grow. We strive to encourage change one encounter at a time; we want people’s lives to be improved by the arts and to encourage agency through the workshops, performances and conversations that we lead.
Jemma McDonnell

Jemma McDonnell- Co-Director (Artistic)

Jemma McDonnell co-founded The Paper Birds in 2003 and has co-written and devised all the company’s productions to date. Jemma received a 1st class degree from Bretton Hall, Leeds University in Theatre Acting and a distinction in her MA from The University of Chichester in Theatre Collectives.
Jemma has directed all 13 of the company’s productions and has performed and toured in 8 of these shows. Jemma leads on artistic vision for the company and has run projects with partners such as Chichester Festival Theatre, Live Theatre, Derby Theatre and The National Theatre.
Jemma led in the development and creation of a groundbreaking teaching resource ‘The Theatre Creativity Cards’ to aid artists and students with devising. As well as leading workshops for students and CPD for teachers and artists, she is a Guest Director and has run masterclasses at a number of acting schools and Universities throughout the UK including East 15, Rose Bruford, York University, Leeds University and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

“Empathy is acknowledging that every person’s life is as precious and complex as your own.”

Kylie Perry

Kylie Perry – Co-Director (Creative Learning)

Kylie co-founded The Paper Birds in 2003 and heads up the company’s Creative Learning department. She has developed The Paper Birds’ reputation as providers of accessible, engaging and unique theatre workshops for students, young people, theatre makers and drama education professionals. Kylie is responsible for developing workshop exercises and lesson plans; recruiting, training and managing Creative Learning staff; and programming the department’s annual activity of workshops, projects, CPD teacher training and Academic Tours.
As Co-Director, Kylie has devised and performed in all of The Paper Birds’ productions. Career highlights include touring Fringe First award-winning production ‘In a Thousand Pieces’ across the globe, and facilitating projects with participants at the National Theatre, London.

“Empathy is acknowledging and recognising others, despite our differences.”

Georgie Coles – Creative Learning Associate

Georgie is a performer, deviser and Creative Learning Associate for The Paper Birds. For the company, she has performed in ‘Ask Me Anything’, ‘Mobile’, plus revivals of ‘In a Thousand Pieces’ and ‘Thirsty’ and ‘Broke’ at schools and universities across the UK. As Creative Learning Associate, she facilitates workshops and leads projects across the UK and internationally, providing accessible, engaging and unique theatre workshops for students, young people and theatre makers. She has run projects with venues including Chichester Festival Theatre, Derby Theatre and Leeds Industrial Museum.

“Empathy is to feel what someone else is feeling.”

Andrea Ling – Associate Artist

Andrea is a British-Bolivian-Chinese artist based in London and South West England. Her work advocates for social change and investigates global issues, culture, and identity from an ‘other’ or global perspective. Andrea’s work either falls into theatre, film, visual arts or falls between these practises and more. For Andrea, it’s about finding the right form for a story or conversation to take hold of the audience. Andrea has been working with The Paper Birds’ team since 2019.

Empathy is giving and holding space for that someone.

Charlotte Kalantari – Gregory Senior Producer

Charlotte is a Producer and Theatre Maker, who joined The Paper Birds in 2018. She works with a portfolio of British dance and theatre companies, creating work for both adult and family/children audiences. She is interested in arts companies and projects that have a real world impact.
She is also Producer of Sonia Sabri Company, The Bone Ensemble and Executive Producer for Open Theatre’s Twisted Tales project.
Charlotte works across art forms, having provided arts management support to companies including ACE dance and music, Nutkut, Parlor Dance, White Rabbit and WinterWalker. A fluent French speaker, she was Project Manager at Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts, for PASS – The Circus Channel, an Interreg funded, French-British, Circus Arts exchange. She was Producer for the New Optimists where the worlds of science and art met via a street theatre show ‘The Hand That Feeds’. She was General Manager and then Executive Producer of Vamos Theatre 2013-18.
Each year Charlotte tours shows to around 100 venues, throughout the UK and internationally. Overseas tours include Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, France and China.
As a Theatre Maker she is Co-Director of Needless Allies and has performed internationally with Stan’s Cafe.

“Empathy is embracing the fact that the world is not black and white.”

Justine Watkins-Fife – Marketing and Audience Development Manager

Jus has been The Paper Birds’ Marketing and Audience Development Manager since January 2020 but has been in arts marketing for many years, working with both venues and touring companies. She was Marketing Manager for internationally renowned dance company Motionhouse for 6 years and enjoyed travelling to many amazing countries with them. Previous to this, she led on the press and marketing for Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and Stafford Festival Shakespeare, also for 6 years.
Since having her two daughters she joined forces with her husband to lead and develop the communication strand of their Design and Marketing Company, Delineate, specialising in arts and theatre marketing and audience development. In addition to her work with The Paper Birds Jus works with Black Country Dance Hub, WinterWalker and The Bone Ensemble. She was also communication lead for award winning Hoipolloi for 5 years and Marketing Manager for integrated learning disabled theatre company, Hubbub for 3 years.
She has devised and managed marketing and communication campaigns for respected arts organisations such as 1623 Theatre Company, Sonia Sabri Company, Vanhulle Dance Theatre, Open Theatre Company, Norwell Lapley Productions, Vamos Theatre Company and leading UK theatre producer, Fuel.

“Empathy is about REALLY listening to others and not presuming you hear what they say.”

Katie Webster – Producer

Katie is The Paper Birds’ Producer, joining the company in January 2020. She graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2018 with a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts.
Katie works closely with The Paper Birds’ team to manage and deliver all aspects of our work. Now based in Birmingham, UK, she has worked as a Producer and Project Coordinator for companies such as Women & Theatre, Little Earthquake, Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage, and the RSC.
Katie has specific experience working with communities and young people, and has a particular interest in arts projects which aim to boost our sense of wellbeing, and mental and physical health. She has worked on many multi-artform, multi-strand artistic and cultural projects across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

“Empathy is the act of taking some time. It is realising you always have a moment to stop, take a breath and listen.”