Rebecca Manson Jones - justrmj's blog

the personal is political


“New is interesting is like being awake” – Laurie Anderson

Speaking outside the Houses of Parliament

Hallo – thanks for looking in.

This is my personal blog with all of the different parts of my work and community activism.

I do quite a few things and big in my brain right now are the local council elections in 2018. I’ll be standing for election as a local councillor for the Women’s Equality Party in May 2018. More about that soon.

My professional background lies in theatre and over the 20 plus years that I’ve made productions and projects for people all over the country, I’ve increasingly been drawn to the political nature of theatre – who gets to get come and more importantly who gets to make it, what they want to say and why…

In 2011, I set up my company  Just Jones & based in SE London and touring to the South West of England working in and with local communities on a show with a global social injustice at its heart. In 2013, I was the first UK recipient of the Ibsen Scholarship from Norway Ministry of Arts for our innovative staging & adaptation of An Enemy of the People which I created and toured nationally. It involved over 200 participants writing parts for and performing the roles of local residents (which they were) and took 2 years to raise all the funds and another year to make.

An Enemy of the People -adapted from Ibsen with Dr Stockman played as a woman

In 2016, I was awarded an artist commission by the Gulbenkian Foundation as part of their 3 year Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts. I’m currently working on an idea called We Will Be Happy Here looking at how a community could work on the principles of fairness and equity, an inclusive society, and what would happen if things got out of kilter. This was initially funded in 2014 by a residency  at Dartington to collaborate with award-winning writer David Lane.

It’s taken this long to bring it to the public because during its creation I took time out to be carer for my Mother during her final illness, and because the world went so crazy I was compelled to get politically active and stand as a candidate for the Women’s Equality Party.

In May 2016 I was one of the inaugural London list of candidates for the Women’s Equality Party in the GLA elections and in October 2016 stood in the Brockley by-election as the first ever local council candidate for the Women’s Equality Party. I’m a member of the Lewisham branch steering group of WEP and the policy group for Women’s Health.

In March 2017 I joined the Board of Governors at Sydenham School in Lewisham and became the Link Governor for Safeguarding and sit on both the Resources and Curriculum Committees.

Just before Mum got ill at the end of 2014, I was invited by Southwark Arts Service to curate an arts development pop-up in a former Edwardian Library in SE London neighbouring the Aylesbury Estate. Over 15 months the Wells Way Pop Up up worked with emerging artists in all arts forms, community groups, and arts producers, mentoring 3 people into arts and third sector roles. In 2015, Just Jones & won the Bentley commission to create new short plays in a former mining community. Bentley Max involved 100 people in fresh stories and images for their own in pop up workshops held in a mobile shed.

For JJ& I  directed Brockley More (tiny plays) with Ros Phillips as part of the Brockley Max festival and in 2017 I made a scratch performance for Brockley Max called The Day Patriarchy Died in the Old Coroner’s Court in Ladywell, which we hope to develop fully and tour in 2018/19.

At the Ibsen Festival receiving our award in Norway

I’ve been lucky enough to have held senior arts roles  for over 7 years at Exeter Northcott as programmer and director of in-house work and The Almeida Theatre as founder-director of Almeida Projects – community engagement and professional development programme. My work fostering diversity in both these roles has been cited as a model of good practice by Arts Council England.

This work running multi million turnover businesses involved a lot of policy writing and strategy documents, negotiating with council officers and persuading community partners to work with me and my teams.

My directing credits include: Enemy of the People (JJ&) A Doll’s House, Mother Goose (as co-writer), The Big Read, Beyond Nora, Trading Local (with Show of Strength) all at Exeter Northcott as its Creative Director; conception & creation of Out of the Fog (with Roy Williams), writing and direction SICK! ( after The Hypochondriac with Fin Kennedy and Moliere)

Sick! jpc &BJ (7)
Debbie Korley and Ricky Norwood in SICK! at the Almeida in a production for Islington and Hackney teenagers

Hanging by a Thread & conception and creative producing WRITE. new writing festival – all at the Almeida Theatre as founder Director of Almeida Projects; Vibrant Festival at the Finborough, Write Now at at Brockley Jack, Richmond & Twickenham Festival.

KM jay rocking chair
Matt Christian Reed and Evadne Ricketts at the Brockley Jack Theatre 2010

I support my artistic work with creative consultancy creating NPO funding bids, business plans, cultural strategies, policy documents, board development and recruitment, and creative learning resources  – clients include: Independent Theatre Council. People’s Palace Projects, The Royal Court and Donmar Theatres, CSR policy for Pinsent Masons, Talawa Theatre, The Theatre Museum, Ambassadors Theatre Group. I’m also an accredited Action Learning Facilitator.

I’ve led new writing programmes for Exeter Northcott, the Almeida, Soho Theatre, Actors Touring Company (as Associate Director) and Frontline as well as developing new work as a freelance and participatory projects for The Donmar, Royal Court, Theatre Museum/V&A, & West End Theatres.

I’m Vice Chair of Oily Cart Theatre the UK’s leading exponent of immersive and multisensory theatre for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and/or with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. And in 2017 I took on the role of co-chair with Annette Corbett of  the What Next Lewisham chapter of a national movement of artists responding to austerity. We’d already got together to put in a bid for the Ladywell Playtower Conversion.

Updated 5th February 2018.






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