Sputnik is a British theatre company dedicated to sourcing, translating and producing new Russian and international drama for British audiences.

There are several strands to Sputnik’s work including:
– sourcing, translating and producing new Russian and international plays in the UK;
– advocating for, and producing, experimental translation practices on stage as well as film and radio.

Sputnik Theatre Company Limited is a not-for-profit company No. 06873417 and a registered charity No. 1134437 .

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Why has Sputnik staged dissident Russian dramas since 2005?

We believe that Russia is one of the most exciting countries in the world for contemporary playwriting. The whole world knows about Chekhov and Russia’s tradition of theatre but the real secret is that Russia has a whole generation of young playwrights with talent, ideas and ambition. Since 2005, Sputnik has committed to bringing this new generation of playwrights to the attention of British audiences. From 2017 onwards, Sputnik has also pioneered experimental translation practices collaborating with hip-hop artists as well as working with other international partners to create artistically innovative work on subjects of international significance. Sputnik is a low-budget company which punches above its weight.

Sputnik’s Patron:

Ingeborga Dapkunaite, film and stage actor.

Artistic Director:

Noah Birksted-Breen, director and translator
Noah won the ITV Theatre Directors’ Award, working for a year and a half as resident director at Hampstead Theatre where he trained alongside directors including Rupert Goold, Polly Teale and Lucy Bailey. Time Out wrote in an annual round-up review of British Theatre: “Tip for the top: Noah Birksted-Breen, director and translator of Sputnik Theatre”. Noah speaks fluent Russian: he did a Modern Languages degree at Oxford University, including one year studying at the St. Petersburg State University, and he completed an MA in Playwriting at Central School of Speech and Drama. In 2017, Noah finished a PhD at Queen Mary University of London, titled ‘Alternative Voices in an Acquiescent Society: Translating Russian New Drama (2000-2014)’. Currently, Noah was a researcher at Oxford University. He has also worked as a Teaching Fellow in the Drama Department at Queen Mary University of London and Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Most recently, he held an associate research position in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford leading to a climate report and the Oxford Flying Less podcast. His personal profile can be found on LinkedIn.

Board of Directors:

Sue Dunderdale
Sue Dunderdale is a freelance director and writer and until recently was the Head of the MA Directing Course at RADA. Her last production was THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV in a newly commissioned version by Melissa Murray at the GBS studio, RADA. Previously she directed BEASTS by Juan Radrigán for her company HEAD FOR HEIGHTS at THEATRE 503. In the previous few years she has directed WUTHERING HEIGHTS at York Theatre Royal where she has also directed the premier of MRS. PAT by Pam Gems; BOTTLE UNIVERSE by Simon Burt at the Bush Theatre; COLD HANDS by Chris Katic at Theatre 503; PARADISE BOUND by Jonathan Larkin and THE WAY HOME by Chloe Moss both at the Liverpool Everyman. She has directed numerous short films, including LAST LAUGH (also wrote), starring FRANCES BARBER and DOREEN MANTLE which has played five festivals including LOS ANGELES and CHICAGO; ANGEL by Chloe Moss; MINE by Sue Dunderdale and EXPOSED by Judy Upton. She has directed numerous dramas for television and has two films in development LOVING MONSTERS by Chris Katic and L8 by Jonathan Larkin. During her career as a Director she has been Artistic Director of Pentabus Theatre Company, the Soho Theatre and Greenwich Theatre.

Dino Fontes (Company Secretary)
Dino is currently Director (Legal Counsel) in the Legal Department of VTB Capital plc (previously the Moscow Narodny Bank Ltd). He trained and qualified as a banking solicitor at Linklaters and has also worked at Dentons. He has professional experience at other institutions including The Royal Bank of Scotland, Citi and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Dino completed his undergraduate degree in Modern Languages (Spanish & Portuguese) at Trinity College, Oxford, and gained his Postgraduate Diploma in Law and Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice at The College of Law, London.

Abigail Gonda
Abigail is Development Producer at the BBC Writersroom. From 2008 to 2013, she was working as a freelance dramaturg in Los Angeles. She was Literary Manager for the Bush Theatre from 2005 to 2008. She was part of the team to relaunch Theatre 503 as a new writing powerhouse. Previously, she has worked for the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme, the Tricycle Theatre, Donmar Warehouse and the Arcola Theatre in various literary capacities. Abigail has lead playwriting workshops and taught at Cambridge and Oxford University Drama Societies, Rose Bruford College, Watford Palace Theatre, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Central School of Speech and Drama, Soho Theatre and Writers’ Centre and Pier Playwrights. She has been a judge and panellist for the George Devine Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Old Vic/New Voices 24 Hour Plays, Oxford University Dramatic Society New Play Festival, Verity Bargate Award, Kings Cross New Writing Award, Churchill Theatre Bromley New Play Award.

Hugh Kelly
Hugh is an independent consultant advising businesses, governments and regulators on regulatory and competition finance topics. He has previously worked for Commonwealth Development Corporation, Moscow Nardony Bank, Fuji Bank, Ofcom, and FTI Consulting. He has a degree in Economics/Accounting from the University of Kent and trained as a chartered accountant with KPMG.

Simon Stokes
Simon is the Artistic Director at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. He was Artistic Director at the Bush Theatre from the mid 1970’s to the late 1980’s. Thereafter, alongside a freelance career, he was Artistic Associate and Director of Development for the Turnstyle Group in London’s West End. A new play specialist, he developed and directed many of our now established playwrights, along with a generation of now leading actors. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and has directed in Germany, Switzerland, Israel and the USA, as well as the UK. His most highly profiled work has included the West End successes When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout by Sharman Macdonald (with Julie Walters, Geraldine James and Dawn French) at the Whitehall Theatre and A Slip of the Tongue by Dusty Hughes (with John Malkovich and Ingeborga Dapkunaite) at the Shaftesbury Theatre. In Plymouth he has directed Moonshine by Snoo Wilson, Through A Cloud by Jack Shepherd, two plays by Doug Lucie – The Green Man and Presence – and Lucinda Coxon’s Nostalgia.

Artistic Advisers

Birgit Beumers
Birgit is Reader in Russian at the University of Bristol. She completed her D.Phil at St Antony’s College, Oxford and specialises in contemporary Russian culture, especially cinema and theatre. Her publications include Burnt by the Sun (2000), Nikita Mikhalkov: Between Nostalgia and Nationalism (2005), PopCulture: Russia! (2005), History of Russian Cinema (2009) and, as editor, Russia on Reels: The Russian Idea in Post-Soviet Cinema (1999) and 24 Frames: Russia and the Soviet Union (2007). With Mark Lipovetsky she has co-authored a book on New Russian Drama (forthcoming with Intellect). She is editor of the online journal KinoKultura and of the journal Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema. She is currently working on Russian animation.

John Freedman
John is a writer and translator based in Moscow. He has been the theatre critic of The Moscow Times since 1992, and has written or edited nine books on Russian theatre. His translations have been produced in the United States, Australia and Canada.

Elena Koval’skaya
Elena graduated from the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) with a specialisation in theatre studies. She now teaches the history of European theatre at GITIS. For the last ten years, she has been a theatre reviewer for the newspaper “Afisha”. She is an adviser to the Golden Mask Festival, three times programming the Golden Mask’s “Russian Case”. Elena is also the artistic director of the Lyubimovka festival for young playwrights in Moscow.

  • About Us

    Sputnik is a British theatre company dedicated to sourcing, translating and producing new Russian drama for British audiences.

    There are several strands to Sputnik's work including:
    - producing new Russian plays in the UK
    - programming and organising the Russian Theatre Festival in London
    - developing Russian playwriting through commissions and exchanges
    - outreach work bringing drama to disadvantaged young people
    - cultural events with Russian literature and music

    Why Russia?
    Russia has a history of theatrical innovation. Russian playwrights have played a significant role in shaping modern European theatre.

    Contemporary playwriting in Russia has been going through an important and innovative period since 1991 with a prolific output by predominantly young dramatists.

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