WHO WE ARE
The Co-Directors Joan and Polly met treading the boards with the National Youth Theatre.
When they graduated from their respective drama schools, support networks for young
actors and theatre-makers were already fast disappearing.
The Mono Box was created as an extension of the career support they were giving each other when they started out with the intention of empowering actors in what can seem like a daunting industry.
Joan Iyiola is an actor, trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, National Youth Theatre and Cambridge University.
Her recent theatre credits include the title role in The Duchess of Malfi (RSC), and BBC's Black Earth Rising & and Enterprice. Other credits include - Almeida, Shakespeare's Globe, Young Vic, Complicite, Gate Theatre, Bush Theatre, New Blood (BBC/Netflix) & Denial.
Polly Bennett is a Movement Director and Choreographer working across the UK and internationally. She holds an MA in Movement from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and was Resident Company Movement Practitioner at the Royal Shakespeare Company 2013.
Other work includes National Theatre, Royal Court, London 2012 Olympics and the film Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox.)
Helen joined The Mono Box in July 2017. She was previously Assistant to Director of Theatre Department (Mel Kenyon) at Casarotto Ramsay Associates Ltd, Assistant Floor Manager at BBC Television Centre and trained as an actor at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She works for The Mono Box part-time alongside being Festival Coordinator for the wonderful Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall and mum to Esme & Isabelle.
Alison is an independent producer and works part time at the Mono Box, joining the team in 2018 to produce PLAYSTART. Currently a Forge Associate at English Touring Theatre and Company Producer for Helen Chadwick Song Theatre. Previously Alison was Producing Coordinator at the Bush Theatre. Through her audio platform LunAH Productions credits include: Barnardo’s Black History, Una Marson Speaks. Single (BBCR4).
SIR DEREK JACOBI
Miles is an actor and writer having trained at The Oxford School of Drama and NYT. Credits include Doc Martin & Manhunt (ITV) & he is currently developing a project for screen with Bandit Television.
Miles’ involvement with The Mono Box started when he met Polly through NYT (a rather long time ago) and she got him along to one of the first Speech Surgeries. He started volunteering, then joined as administrator in January 2018, supporting Polly & Joan in their quest for world dominance.
Miles runs our weekly Play Browsing (Tuesday's 11 - 5pm) and is always up for a cup of tea.
Harriet is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied musical theatre at the New Studio on Broadway. After working off-Broadway as a performer and arts administrator at New York Classical Theatre, she moved to London and completed her MA in Text & Performance at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She is now undertaking an MFA in Creative Producing at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Harriet now works part time as Assistant Producer at The Mono Box and at Mercury Musical Development/Musical Theatre Network, and produces a monthly #networkshop series with her theatre collective Nothing to Perform. www.harrietlouisetaylor.com
I joined The Mono Box in 2013 and am proud to have been their first ever volunteer.
I am now a theatre director whose passion is new writing. My life goals are to direct at the Royal Court and see The Mono Box achieve world domination. Writers who inspire me are Philip Ridley, Anna Jordan, Sarah Kane, Penelope Skinner, Sarah Daniels and Alice Birch.
I have two favourite Mono moments: eating Magnum ice-cream with Polly whilst alphabetising plays in the early hours of the morning, and hearing panelist, Denise Gough, kick ass at a Speech Surgery.
I had come across The Mono Box years ago before I moved to London and knew it was something I wanted to check out. I first came to an event in March 2015, and I really loved it. Not only does it offer incredible workshops, but it has introduced me to some seriously magic people who are constantly sharing ideas and tips. They are just that extra support on this crazy path we have all decided to undertake. The passion oozes out of each and every person I meet.
My favourite Q&A was with Valene Kane, Joel MacCormack and Simon Manyonda. It was a turning point for me. Their stories of where how they got to where they are, their struggles and their successes resonated how I felt and all the insecurities I have felt along the way.
I’m Jennie and I am an actress, and a Northerner. I walked into The Mono Box about 2 years ago (after Wonder Women Polly and Joan talked to us at NYT) and its been my stability in crazy, beautiful London since.
When I am not drinking coffee, which isn’t often (I always wanted to be a Gilmore Girl) you will find me talking to someone about the most recent play or book I have read. Or annoying another ‘Mono Boxer’ asking them to get me coffee.
The ‘Lifting the Lid Gala’ was BEAUTIFUL to be a part off. But I will always remember Vanessa Kirby’s energy and positivity at the Q&A in 2016, she summed up what The Mono Box is all about. Believing in yourself.
In 2015 I moved to London from New York, knowing no one and knowing nothing. In come Polly and Joan, the super team we know and love. They gave me not only a creative space, but a new family in The Mono Box. Because of The Mono Box I am a member of the National Youth Theatre and actually doing that acting thing, like as a real job.
I’m also a stand up comedian, prop maker and writer. They say it’s good to have a lot of strings to your bow, well now I’ve just got a harp, but I always know The Mono Box is somewhere I can learn to play.
Straight from Holland, slowly taking over the London acting mafia, workshop by workshop. I spend half my time training at the Salon:Collective, the other half at the Mono Box, the third half paying rent as an IT contractor.
My specialties include: looking busy, talking to people, talking to people while looking busy, small talk, asking if people have had lunch yet, no?, we could get some right now, ah ok, no don't worry I wasn't hungry anyway, yeah no
problem I already had a big lunch yesterday, I'll just eat an apple, so anyway how was yo---oh, sorry. ok.
I found myself stumbling into the wrong workshop, on the wrong day at The Mono Box, years after I had first been to a playbrowsing. That day was a turning point. It is beautifully reassuring, and wonderful to have an environment that is as supportive and nourishing. It's been, and remains an honour being involved here, I am so excited about the future.
Workshops, Speech surgeries, and panels are a whole different level of goodness. I found working for a week with the RSCs Michael Corbige in the summer was an extraordinary experience like no other.
It is a place one finds oneself returning to whether it be in search of a speech, in need of a cuppa, a good read, or a hug .
I started coming to The Mono Box a few years back and instantly loved everything it stood for. At this point, I knew I wanted to be in the industry but hadn’t the foggiest clue of where to start. The Mono Box provided me with a safe space to learn, create, and remain inspired! The vast (and affordable) selection of workshops allows you to tailor the kind of artist you want to be. Long may The Mono Box continue. I can often be found chatting rubbish by the water cooler,with a Joe Penhall anthology in my hand.
I first discovered The Mono Box when I was applying to drama school in 2013. Joan and Polly helped me choose the right monologue and start getting my performance of it audition-ready. They gave me new ideas and guidance and most importantly - confidence! Needless to say I’ve stayed close by, attending countless workshops and courses that have continued to train and help me since graduating. Last year I joined the team proper and I love my time at The Mono Box with the ever-growing family who run it.
It is the only place I know of in London where actors can get honest advice, excellent and diverse training, friendly smiles, hot drinks and access to a bajillion plays on a regular basis! The Mono Box offers a grounding in what can often feel like a groundless industry. It’s the bomb!
This time last year I was working in an office, having to do star jumps in the loo to keep sane! I'd shied away from all hopes of being an actor and was feeling really crap. Then I heard about The Mono Box from a friend and
tentatively came along to a Sunday session.
I was offered biscuits and tea on arrival (always welcome) and immediately felt lifted by Polly, Joan and the volunteers' warmth. In what came seem like a maelstrom, The Mono Box is an anchor for so many people who, like
me, were lost.
The Mono Box has changed my life: as well as helping me find audition monologues, I've met so many lovely people, taken part in some fantastic workshops and have been very fortunate to work with Nia Lynn and Ned Bennett.
I have been coming to The Mono Box pretty much since it started, because there is never anything to do on a Sunday, there were free biscuits and tea and I got to read plays. I kept coming back not just because of the biscuits, but I got to meet people who were doing the same thing as me - trying to find their feet as a creative in London, the city of cities. Being around like minded people is always a good thing I think.
I have also found some great plays and learned a ton load from the workshops I've gone to. The Speech Surgery panels are always enjoyable. Simon 'Doc' Manyonda's rendition of a song he had to sing at an audition, is a stand out memory. Denise Gough, Taio Lawson and Kate Philips were also just very honest about the road they've taken and that nobody is immune to the lowest lows and highest highs.
I first heard about The Mono Box in Saudi Arabia (don't ask!) I couldn't believe I had been missing out on it and was desperate to come along and find out more. Over two years ago I did just that and poor Polly and Joan haven't been able to get rid of me since! I would recommend it not just for their vast selection and knowledge of plays, but also for the warmth and support the Mono Box family radiates! (Oh and of course the 80s classic that greet you on the door!)
One of my most inspiring moments at The Mono Box was listening to Denise Gough talk about her highs and lows, the importance of believing in yourself and not changing for anyone.
You can normally find me directing people to the toilets (important) or the biscuits (even more important) Oh and avoiding Miles talking rubbish!
It’s the 19th. It’s April. It’s 2015. An excited yet nervous 16 year old arrives at the MonoBox after a lengthy commute from her tiny village in Essex. That’s right - Vee has turned up to her first ever Speech surgery in search of an audition speech for NYT.
It’s unlike anything she’s ever encountered. Never again would she need to feel guilty sitting on the floor of the National Theatre bookshop or the Royal Court or indeed any posh Waterstones painstakingly searching for audition speeches. I had all the time and support I could possibly want!
I joined as a volunteer in July 2017 and I can honestly say that nearly three years on from that fateful day in April 2015, I have benefitted hugely from the Speech surgeries, affordable and inspiring workshops as well as being a part of the ever growing MonoBox family. My experience so far as a small part of the MonoBox team has only confirmed how wonderful this organisation and resource is. It is not only a space to learn and play, it’s a continual source of inspiration and support.