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"Are we human without stories?"

Storytelling is more profound, more far reaching, archetypal and subconscious than most people think. The whole world is addicted to it. Almost everything we as do as humans, in one way or another, will involve telling a story and most of the time we don’t even realise we’re doing it. When a civil engineer laments her lost youth to a friend in the pub after one to many martini’s; when a historian sits down to write his latest theories on the Spanish civil war or when a mother warns a reckless teenager about the treacherous streets of Soho. Fascinating! The entire foundations of history rest on the shoulders of storytellers.


Stories are our business, telling them our craft. We love it and it is what we get up for in the morning. The blood, the sweat, the tears, the amazing highs when something magic happens on stage. This is what we live for, for without stories then what are we? Are we human without stories? Now there’s a question.


Our passion is new writing. We create stories from the things that inspire us; the events, concepts and moral dilemmas that we find in the world and set our pulses racing. We are however (as you might have guessed) suckers for a good yarn, wherever it comes from so adaptation is a road we will soon be embarking upon.







Our mission is to make heart-crunching, nail-biting, pant-wetting theatre made from stories that connect to the deeper and darker parts of the soul. Our style is whatever best serves the story, which changes every time we make something new. Saying this, puppetry is our specialism and many of our characters have started their lives as blocks of wood or lumps of plasticine and I imagine this will continue into our future.


As The Clock Master so eloquently said,


                                                                             "Don’t listen to stories, they’re dangerous tender,

                                                                              For who wants a life of mystery and adventure?"


Image by Agenda at

"Sparkle and Dark's storytelling has class and power."



The Independent

"If you have a chance to see any of Sparkle and Dark's theatre works go,"


Culture Fly

“… a young theatre company with great promise”



The Stage

"It is unbelievably impressive that this company were able to provide a study of a distressing subject so beautifully"


The Skinny

Louisa Ashton

Artistic Director / Writer

Louisa met Shelley whilst working at the BBC and soon found herself co-creating Sparkle and Dark with their first show The Clock Master in 2009. She is now co-artistic director with Shelley, as well as the resident writer for the company.


Being slightly obsessed with the movement and rhythm of language, Louisa's writing style tends to lend itself towards the poetic, physical and visual. She often finds herself drawn towards exploring the interplay between text and the space, encouraging devising and scriptwriting to walk hand-in-hand during rehearsals. This process often allows her to uncover the most visceral, gut punching elements of a story.


Louisa's work with Sparkle and Dark includes the awarding-winning The Clock Master, 5-star Edinburgh sell-out show The Girl with No Heart and award-winning I AM BEAST. Other work includes the immersive production ROUTESat Theatre Delicatessen and Lyric Hammersmith. She also works as the in-house screen writer for Tate Creations, writing shorts and scenes.  Louisa is also an accomplished performer, puppeteer, and puppetry director, working with companies including the RSC, BBC, Little Angel Theatre, Flabbergast Theatre, Theatre Temoin, Bamboozle, Half a String, Wild Story and the V&A.

Shelley Knowles-Dixon

Artistic Director / Director

Shelley Knowles Dixon is Co-Artistic Director and founding member, along with Louisa Ashton, of Sparkle and Dark. She has previously directed acclaimed and award-winning productions The Girl With No Heart, Killing Roger and I AM BEAST for the company.

Shelley is fascinated by the intricacies and subtleties of human existence, which is why she fell in love with the theatre.  She loves to work with Movement through text and her main obsession is with finding dramatic and visually exiting ways of jumping between the ‘imagined’ and ‘objective’ realities of the characters on stage.

Shelley graduated from her in MA Theatre Directing at Mountview Academy in 2016. Since graduating from her BA in Fine Art from Falmouth College of Arts she has trained in movement, devising and directing at LISPA, Young Vic, National Theatre Studio and Central School of Speech and Drama.  Recent directing credits include; The Dream Factory (House of Stray Cats, National Tour), Invisible Me (In Production for 2018/19, House of Stray Cats in association with The Point and Jacksons Lane), Penumbra (Arcola), Angels (Arcola) and Lovebox (Karamel Theatre).  Shelley is also a puppet maker and designer and has designed and built all of Sparkle and Dark’s puppets to date. 


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