What other people say about my work


As Director:

We have been extremely privileged to work with Gwen Hales as our circus director and mentor. She supported us to sculpt (successful) funding bids and shape how the project would take place. Her experience in the sector and as a circus director was a great advantage to us, her dedication and professionalism in her work showed throughout the creative process and shone through in the final work. Gwen was able to harness each performer’s skill-set and support us as a group in the process, ensuring time and people were managed efficiently so we could achieve our goal. She helped us in every area both inside the rehearsal room and out, from budgeting and dramaturgy to managing people and the challenges of Covid. She is thorough, personable, professional and fun.” Jess Herman, Sexual Health Circus 2021

Working with Gwen felt like working with a real person who listened to what I wanted and understood my needs throughout the whole process. Sometimes she would get me to do seemingly weird exercises… that would result in great material.” Solo circus artist, 2022


As Aerial Director:

“…sharp and clever choreography…impressive acrobatics (much of this show is an aerial feat)…Cookson and aerial director Gwen Hales have concocted a two-hour show that never drags and is brimming with energy and action without ever seeming frantic or over-busy.” British Theatre Guide on Hetty Feather, 2016

“With plenty of flying thrown in….this is a piece of ensemble theatre with clever stagecraft at its heart…Cookson makes no attempt to disguise the show’s workings: she has no time for fairy dust. This Peter flies with ropes and harnesses – and that’s all part of the fun.”  The Independent on Peter Pan, 2012

“The pleasure of the show is that it always exposes the mechanics – including the rigging for the flying – and invites audiences of all ages to bring their imaginations to bear. It’s a wonderful idea and one that pays dividends in a cross-dressing, free flying production.”  Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Peter Pan, 2013


As a mentor:

“Gwen’s clarity and thoughtful approach really helped us get to grips with what we were trying to achieve. Her experience and kindness gave us the confidence to question ourselves and take the risks needed to make the best piece we could. And we had so much fun doing it!”  Mentee 2018

“Gwen’s teaching style is utterly fantastic! She has helped my partner and I develop a show we can really be proud of. She took the time to understand what it was we were looking for first, and gave us invaluable tools to not only push our original idea to its best level, but also to help us in the development and design of future projects. A truly fantastic mentor that I can’t recommend highly enough!” Mentee 2019


As a performer:

“At the heart of it all is Gloria (Gwen Hales), a narcissistic egomaniac, styled on a Barbie Doll, who’s under the impression the show is all about her, but whose moments of glory keep being undermined by accidents or her fellow performers.”  The Arts Desk on FLOWN by Pirates of the Carabina, 2014

 “When such a strong female clown stands so rootedly to the show’s centre, circus can also be extremely funny.  Gloria is a riot.  Her timing is superb, and her frowns a delight.  This evening, she has certain sections of the audience so continually convulsed in laughter that everyone else laughs at the laughers, the laughers laugh back, ad infinitum, and Gloria can just stand back and let us do her work for her.  Which of course redoubles the effect.  Gloria also knows her tricks, very impressive tricks, and even better, she can clown them up a treat.” Brighton Festival on FLOWN by Pirates of the Carabina, 2014

“There were some great comic moments delivered by several members of the ensemble but one character that stood out was the Incredible Gloria (and her horse China). Gwen Hales’ narcissistic and self-obsessed clown was the crowning glory of the show. I adored her counterweighted silks act – which involved what seemed to be several hundred metres of fabric laced over two gigantic bobbins hung from the ceiling and weighted down by various cast members – not only for its creativity and panache but also because she inspired shrieks of laughter from a packed out audience. Not an easy feat. What’s more Hales’ monologue was the most touching of all; a moving commentary on ageing and its corollaries.”  Brighton Festival Review on FLOWN by Pirates of the Carabina, 2014

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