Meet our Cast and Crew
Writer and Performer
Olivia is a writer, librettist and opera singer based in London. A subeditor at The Times, she has collaborated with several composers, most recently on Lost & Found with the Royal Opera. She presents a podcast, Hwaet!, on the historic retelling of Beowulf.
Olivia’s interest in Happened Here goes beyond the what, where and why, to the how – how we do relate to these people and places, and how do we share these stories so that they become part of the fabric going onwards?
Writer and Performer
Hi! I’m Joanna Clarke, a London born and based actor and freelance writer/tutor with a passion for all things history. As an actor I particularly enjoy working on Shakespeare and new writing, with an aspiration to continue my career in theatre, voiceover and also on the screen. I’m also a singer, with a love of musicals. I’m very excited to be a part of HappenedHere and to put my history degree and research experience to good use in combination with my creative writing to share the incredible nuggets and stories of my hometown’s past.
Hi – I’m Jasmine and I am currently a student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Being a part of this project has been so useful whilst at drama school, both as practice but also having a go at the kind of work I’d be interested in post-university. Reading these scripts and becoming a part of a team telling historical stories has taught me a lot about what British history books choose to teach and what they leave out.
The stories genuinely spurred me to pay more attention to the places I take for granted being in London.
Senior Editor, Writer and Line Producer
In the course of a spectacularly unstructured career, Sarah has worked as a writer, editor, journalist, TV researcher and producer, costumier and artist. She has written travel guidebooks, and over 100 non-fiction books for schools.
Her jackdaw mind loves finding, writing, editing, and line-producing the stories and podcasts we bring you through HappenedHere, and mentoring and coaching our younger writers is an added bonus. Fun people, fascinating stories.
I’ve been performing since I was nine, including at Glydebourne and voicing a Blue Planet mini documentary. At The National Youth Theatre I met the lovely Cassius Konneh, who introduced me to HappenedHere.
Although acting has always been my ultimate goal, this year I’ve moved to London and I’m taking a leap into the world of literature and writing at university. Happened Here has proven to be very inspirational when studying writers and poets of the city. My goal is to keep performing as much as I can, and telling stories such as the wonderful ones you can hear on HappenedHere.
Founder, HappenedHere Host and Performer
Stephen Fry is an English author, actor, screenwriter, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, broadcaster, podcaster and film director.
Writer and Performer
Zak is a Welsh/Iranian writer and actor from Barry, South Wales. Zak co-wrote and performed an award-winning, comedy musical, Hot Gay Time Machine, was runner-up for the David Nobbs New Comedy Writing Competition and was shortlisted for World Productions’ Writers’ Award. Most recently, he co-created and wrote the pilot The Other Half for UKTV and Dave with his writing partner, Kate Reid.
Zak is delighted to have been involved in Happened Here – and has loved both writing and recording the diverse range of stories.
I’m a researcher and opera singer, currently studying for a PhD at the University of Cambridge. My doctoral thesis is on theatrical encounter in the context of the climate crisis, and at its heart it is motivated by an interest in how we meet, and why it might matter. I’ve always been interested in conversations in the present, and with the past: ways of understanding then from now, and ways we might be understood – with wonder, or with horror – in the future. That interest is one of the forces that drew me to my research, and it’s one of the attractions HappenedHere holds for me – an opportunity to stand in a place and not only think about it, but think with it, and into it.
Filmmaker and Sound Editor
I’ve been a filmmaker, film technician, picture and sound editor for over 25 years and have travelled the world making documentaries for all the major British broadcasters and now specialise in editing podcasts, making films for charities, NGO’s, museums and local authorities. To be part of the Happened Here community as a sound editor assembling the podcast stories and helping develop the series style has been an absolute pleasure. HappenedHere is an exciting and truly unique project that indulges both my professional and personal interests and never fails to amaze and intrigue.
Jon does design and has created our look and website. Jon is also a user interface and print and web graphics specialist, providing graphic and web design services for clients, including the BBC and Channel 4. As well as the design of print, online and interactive services (including user experience design, interaction design, wireframing and prototyping), Jon Jardine has extensive knowledge of content management systems and programming languages.
Hi! My name is Cassius Konneh and I’m a queer actor of mixed Ghanaian and British heritage. Originally from North London, I’m studying Acting at Cardiff University. I want to continue being part of stage, screen and voice acting projects that look at queerness, blackness and mixed ancestry (subjects close to home!) I also hope to develop my writing skills to produce my own dramatic pieces.
History can sometimes feel like it’s airbrushed to meet political agendas, ignoring the history of marginalised groups because they’re perceived as insignificant, unfamiliar or uncomfortable to talk about. HappenedHere has histories you probably didn’t learn in school, stories of those that are relatively unknown. The stories feel tangible, highlighting specifically where they took place in modern-day London and the people in them feel distinctly relatable.
Founder, Host, Performer
Joanna is an actress, presenter, author and campaigner.
Host, Performer, Composer and Musician
Shama is a storyweaver, be it with her sitar, her singing, acting or composing. With her scientific background and a PhD in the neuroscience of creativity, she uses traditional instruments and cutting edge technology to compose music across genres including, jazz, psychedelia, live electronica, hip-hop, drum ’n’ bass, worldbeats, Indian/western classical melodies, folk storytelling and beat poetry.
Shama says of her music- making with HappenedHere: “Working with HappenedHere as a musician, storyteller and presenter has been super fun, and piqued multiple interests in me, from curiosity and play, to historical imaginations…”
Writer and Editor
James has written twelve books about the arts. He was a staff
writer at The Independent newspaper for a decade and now writes features for publications ranging from one end of Fleet Street to the other. He has interviewed everyone from Daniel Barenboim and Samuel L Jackson to Helen Mirren and Kim Kardashian (don’t ask). He has written general features on subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, the moon landings, Hiroshima, archaeology and beekeeping (again, don’t ask). He has a regular slot reviewing the newspapers for the BBC News Channel.
He is delighted to be involved in HappenedHere. He takes great joy in learning and writing about such subjects as Bob the Cat and Bob the Haircut.
Writer and Performer
I’m a writer-performer, based in London. I work in theatre, television, film, and now – thanks to HappenedHere – in audio as well! I originally trained as a performer at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, before deciding I wanted to write my own material. I primarily write comedy, as I got my start in sketch-comedy, but am moving into drama too. I started working in theatre, however, post-pandemic, I’ve been writing more for screen. My work has been included in the BBC1 sketch shows, and my first sitcom pilot, The Other Half, was aired on Dave (2022). This was co-written by Zak Ghazi-Torbati, another HappenedHere writer, and that’s one of the things I love most about the HappenedHere community – it really is a community. I hope you enjoy listening to HappenedHere as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it.
Editor, Writer and Sound Editor
Wherever I have worked, my love of history has been a constant companion. I was Chief Electrician at the Savoy Theatre, gained my history masters at Birkbeck UCL and have worked at Borough Market. I worked at LSC Publishing before founding Lusona Publishing and Media in 2021.
In some form or another I have been telling stories for most of my life. The joy of HappenedHere is getting to tell the stories of people doing their stuff. Stuff that was funny, mad, heroic, inspired or simply getting them through their day. Moments in the lives of people just like us which happened ten, one hundred, one thousand years ago. Moments that tell us something about the person, the world they inhabited, and – like all good stories – a little something about ourselves as well.
I’m a writer and lover of fiction. I studied writing at the University of East Anglia and have kept on developing as a short-story writer ever since, publishing a story, “Blood Sugar”, in the literary magazine Eunoia Review.
I grew up in London but have spent the last few years in the South-West, now by the sea in Falmouth. I first wrote for Happened Here whilst stranded in the Galapagos Islands during the first pandemic. It grounded me during that rather uncertain time. The history I encountered researching stories reminded me that uncertainty is, actually, very normal.
I love the challenge of writing Happened Here stories: they have to be short yet immersive, self-contained yet resonant, gripping yet informative. Presenting history as real, lived and breathed, rather than obscure and surmised, is a very good thing and Happened Here does just that.
Outside of all things writing, I love drinking coffee in the rain, running out of freezing cold rivers, and having a nice steaming cold pina colada after a game of tennis.
I’m a freelance illustrator and designer from Hertfordshire, producing artwork described as “surreal realism” and “a blend between Bauhaus and tarot cards”. After studying philosophy at the London School of Economics, I’ve grown an international portfolio of clients including The New York Times and WIRED Japan. Working towards the goal of doing good for humanity, at whatever scale, is a principle at the heart of any work that I do.
I’m creating lively maps of the HappenedHere stories’ ‘Here’. I’m excited to do justice to the wonderful spirit at the heart of these stories.
Writer and Performer
Jasmine is an emerging writer, director and actor, primarily living and working in London, though regularly touring the UK through her work as a performer and videographer. They are interested in creating work which integrates music in exciting ways, sheds light on little-known history, features magical realism, and opens discussions around gender, LGBTQ+ experiences, and the class gap. Therefore, working on the Oscar Wilde stories in particular for HappenedHere has been a perfect fit!
Jasmine is one of the directors of Troubadour Stageworks, a charity creating accessible theatre for heritage and community spaces, and recently founded Cutpurse, a new production company creating work which bridges the music and theatre industry.
I’m thrilled to join the happenedHere team and help create visual worlds for these stories. My career meandered through various business ventures (facilitating knowledge exchange and business improvement) and creative passions (as artist and musician) and in more recent years these converged. My work and life has always been governed by simple passions to find connection, meaning and betterment and I have found powerful means to facilitate this through creative collaboration and visual storytelling. Currently studying BA Illustration & Visual Communications, embarking on a graphic novel and working freelance in illustration, I am excited to discover where this journey goes next!
I found writing for HappenedHere a fine form of entertainment. Once I had done the research for my story , the words flowed fast and the imagining of the theatre and some late Victorian Gothic was great fun!
Chair and Co-Founder of HappenedHere
I read history at Cambridge University, which has given me a lifelong interest in asking, “why do people do what they do?”
I also enjoy thinking and talking about our deep evolutionary past and the technological future of Homo Sapiens and Artificial Intelligence and was lucky to have known and worked with the late great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I am honoured to be on the International Advisory Board of the Past Foundation in South Africa founded in 1994 to preserve and promote Africa’s rich fossil record and to fund paleontological research and education across the world.
It has been a real joy creating HappenedHere stories with such a creative troupe of writers and designers and singers too! HappenedHere combines a fascination with history in all its messiness, horrors, joys, glories, and curiosities. It has been a labour of love.
Co-Founder of HappenedHere
I have spent most of my working life extending the helping hands of telecommunications & technology to communities around the world, wondering at the incredible things people do with them. Having returned to the UK with the sense of arriving somewhere slightly unfamiliar, it seemed only sensible to see what could be done with the new tools available to make me less of a stranger in my home country.
As previously, it’s a delight to see what the ever-expanding HappenedHere community is doing to introduce me to stories that help me to see places I previously believed to be familiar in a completely different light.