Go to SEASON 1 (2019/20)

About us

Positive Stories for Negative Times is produced by Wonder Fools in association with the Traverse Theatre.

Wonder Fools

“One of the most vibrant young companies to emerge onto to the
Scottish theatre scene in recent years”

The Scotsman

Wonder Fools SCIO (SC047673) are a registered charity and arts organisation.

We create contemporary theatre based on a diverse range of current and historical real life stories. We seek unknown and forgotten stories lost in the evolving social landscape of Britain that we are able to reshape and make theatre from. Between 2014 and 2019 we produced four full scale productions reaching over 15,000 audience members and participants. Since March 2020 we have produced 5 digital projects including audio plays, short films and an international participatory project reaching around 42,000 people in eight countries.

Traverse Theatre

As Scotland’s new writing theatre, the Traverse Theatre is a dynamic centre for performance, experience and discovery. Enabling people across society to access and engage with theatre is our fundamental mission.

Our year-round programme bursts with new stories and live performances that challenge, inform and entertain. We empower artists and audiences to make sense of the world today, providing a safe space to question, learn, empathise and – crucially – encounter different people and experiences. We commission, produce and programme for existing and future audiences to offer new and exciting experiences for everyone, and our partnerships with other theatre companies and festivals enable us to present a wide range of innovative performances.

We are passionate about developing talent and embracing the unexplored, working with the newest and rawest talent – with an emphasis on the Scottish-based – and nurturing it to become the art, artists and performances that can be seen on our stages through a variety of creative learning and literary programmes.

The timely, powerful stories that start life on our stages have global impact, resulting in dozens of tours, productions and translations. We are critically acclaimed and recognised the world over for our originality and artistic risk, which we hope will create some of the most talked-about plays, productions, directors, writers and actors for years to come.


Jack Nurse (he/him) – Artistic Lead

Jack is a director and theatre-maker and co-founder of Wonder Fools. He trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Theatre Studio.

Jack is currently Creative Engagement Director at the Ayr Gaiety Theatre, an Artist in Residence (Creative Development) at the Traverse Theatre and an Origins Artist with Headlong.

Directing credits include: 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War, McNeill of Tranent: Fastest Man in the World, The Coolidge Effect (Wonder Fools); Larchview (National Theatre of Scotland); Meet Jan Black (Ayr Gaiety/Wonder Fools); When the Sun Meets the Sky Lampedusa (Citizens Theatre/Wonder Fools); The Lost Elves (Citizens Theatre/Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) The Mack (Play, Pie, Pint/Traverse Theatre).

Associate/Staff/Resident directing credits: Red Dust Road (National Theatre of Scotland/HOME); The Broons (Sell A Door); Dr Dolittle (Music & Lyrics).

Assistant director credits: Oresteia: This Restless House (Citizens Theatre/National Theatre of Scotland), Blackbird (Citizens Theatre); The Winter’s Tale (Royal Lyceum); Hay Fever (Royal Lyceum/Citizens Theatre). Jack was also a member of the Almeida Theatre’s inaugural Resident Director Network 2016-17 and is a reader for the Traverse Theatre and Bruntwood Prize.



Robbie Gordon (he/him) – Artistic Lead

Robbie is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and co-founder Wonder Fools.

His work is socially engaged, embedded in communities and always strives to start a conversation. He currently works as the Creative Engagement Director at the Gaiety Theatre, the Creative Development Producer for Class Act at the Traverse Theatre and the director of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Young Company.

Selected credits: co-creator of Positive Stories for Negative Times (Wonder Fools); curator of Open Your Lugs (Ayr Gaiety); producer of Class Act 2020 (Traverse); writer, performer and movement director of 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War (Wonder Fools); writer and performer of The Coolidge Effect (Wonder Fools); writer and director of McNeill of Tranent: Fastest Man in the World (Wonder Fools); associate director of Square Go (Francesca Moody Productions); lead artist (Ayrshire) on Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea (National Theatre of Scotland); research assistant on Locker Room Talk (Traverse Theatre); assistant director for Julius Caesar (Company of Wolves); assistant director on Graham McLaren’s Dream On! (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland/BBC Symphony Orchestra).



Steph Connell (she/her) – Producer

Steph Connell is a producer of Wonder Fools for whom she has produced Lampedusa, 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War and Stories to Connect Us. She is also producer of Manchester based company ThickSkin, credits include The Static (Assistant Producer), Chalk Farm, AWOL, How Not To Drown, Petrichor and Shade. Previously she was Stage One Producer at the Citizens Theatre in 2017 where credits include Oresteia: This Restless House, Lampedusa, Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons and Captain Amazing. She has produced worked for Frantic Assembly (No Way Back, Corby 2015) and produced worked created in their MA in Collaborative Theatre Making course. She has also produced for children’s theatre company Tucked In including Leaper: A Fish Tale and Finding Victoria at Kensington Palace commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces. Steph founded Scribbled Thought producing and touring new work across genres including new writing, circus and outdoor theatre. Projects include Full StopPlayground Victories and Superhero Snail Boy.

Steph is currently Project Coordinator at the Tron Theatre where she curates artistic development programme, BUILD. She has also worked for Artichoke, National Theatre of Scotland, National Centre for Circus Arts and Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. Steph has an MA in Arts and Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University and is a graduate of the Clore Emerging Leaders Course in 2017.



Gemma Nicol (she/her) and Lisa Williamson (she/her) – Participation Associates

Gemma Nicol and Lisa Williamson are co-artistic directors of hidden route and the Positive Stories for Negative Times Participation Associates. Collectively they have been working within the participation sector for over twenty years. During this time, they created, directed and managed theatre productions and projects with people of all ages in a range of settings, including; Mills Observatory, Verdant Works and Dundee University’s School of Life Sciences. Before setting up hidden route, they worked together for six years within the renowned Engage department at Dundee Rep Theatre where they collaborated with communities and participants in diverse contexts such as schools, health & social care and a variety of community settings. In addition, as freelance artists they have worked with companies such as National Theatre of Scotland, The Point, Macrobert Arts Centre, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland and Imaginate. Gemma and Lisa love to create work that is driven by collaboration and curiosity and are passionate about bringing theatre-makers and audiences into new spaces. Fundamentally, the work they make is about amplifying the voices and creative ambitions of the young people they work with.



Serden Salih (they/them) – Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Serden Salih is a queer non-binary freelance marketing coordinator, events coordinator and artist, with experience in both the film industry and creative arts sector. They graduated with an MA in Film, Television and Screen Media from Birkbeck, University of London in 2015 and has since worked as a distribution manager handling press/marketing for the LGBT+ film distributor Peccadillo Pictures. Serden has also worked at various festivals across the UK and internationally, including the Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and Edinburgh Film Festival. They also have a background in film production and programming.

Serden worked as a 2nd assistant director and played a small role in the infamous short film Trouser Bar which premiered at the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival in 2016 and went on to win awards across twenty film festivals worldwide. They also helped win the Screen Award for Specialist Film Campaign of the Year for Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent and achieved the highest grossing film for Peccadillo Pictures to-date.

They are passionate about bringing diverse stories and experiences to audiences and they are currently working on two screenplays for production. Serden is also the editor/publisher of their Queer magazine The Thief’s Journal, with volume two scheduled for release in 2022. Serden is passionate about LGBTIQ+ rights and education on queer culture/history through various different mediums, and has used their magazine as a way to bring together diverse groups of queer artists from across the world to create dialogues on our current social/political climate.