Meet Our Team

Hitcher Encounters is led by individualistic women with a shared passion for interactive theatre and a strong drive to create pervasive, experimental work. Through our company journey, we hope to branch out and explore more avenues of immersive work that caters to our individual interests. As we do so, we also wish to collaborate with other artists. 


Arathi Suresh | Co-artistic Director

‘I am a storyteller. I always have been. From narrating bedtime stories that my parents told me back to them, to acting out Indian myths during my training in classical dances, to designing and orchestrating ‘The Labyrinth Project’ with my Co-Artistic Directors.’


Arathi comes from a traditional theatre and dance background with a wealth of cultural performance experience in both India and Oman. Although her interests lie in movement and sound, she aims to pursue her love for storytelling in all the different mediums she possibly can.

Born in India, raised in Oman and now living in Leeds, Arathi Suresh is an Indian Classical Dancer who recently found herself passionately immersed in bespoke, interactive performances. Being truly enamoured by the power of stories and its ability to evoke emotions in people, she aspires to create authentic productions that remind today’s world of the significance of true human connection. 

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Ellie Cansdale| Co-artistic Director

‘I’ve always loved creating and telling stories. From singing them to the waves on the beach to devising pieces at school. It was in a drama club where I found my confidence and led me down the path I continue to follow today.’

Ellie grew up learning dance and exploring drama with her friends and family and has written stories ever since she can remember. Ellie is an avid reader and believes storytelling is a beautiful medium for communication, building relations and learning about the world we live in. She's always loved devising theatre but since exploring immersive theatre at University, she is excited to explore the new genre with her fellow co-artistic directors. 

Having moved up and down the country, Ellie has found her home in Leeds and wishes to keep close to the city for as long as possible. With passions in music, sound and film, Ellie wants to explore the numerous possibilities for connection through storytelling within the arts sector. 


Hetty Bater | Co-artistic Director

‘The fact I can’t stop talking says a lot about me! I love to get involved with ideas and creating new stories. It’s beautiful, developing a story over time, and I think having more experience in less traditional theatre has helped me discover that.’ 


Hetty has always been captured by fantastical novels and so was blown away when she discovered the intricate living worlds of immersive theatre. She loves to explore physicality and live presence in performance. She wants to play games with the audience and encourage them to get stuck in.


Having grown up in a small town, coming to Leeds was a big change for Hetty. The exposure to more theatre has inspired her to recreate that escapism and live tension for others. She wants to delve into the physical elements of Hitcher shows and how we can create that without being in person.


Grace Wilkinson| Co-Founder & Freelance Artist 

‘I think as I get older, the more I realise how much I love people, I love talking to people, finding out about their lives and seeing what motivates and moves them. So I think that’s why I love theatre so much because at the core it’s about connecting over what makes us all human no matter what our differences are. And I think that’s why I find storytelling so beautiful.’ 


Grace comes from a working class background on the outskirts of Leeds and her love for Theatre is relatively premature and only a few years in the making. Being an extremely visual person she finds herself interested in all things creative, from design to art installations. 


The journey of the female lead company has allowed Grace to experiment with immersive storytelling, sound and audience relationships. As the company develops she wishes to continue the exploration of emotional and physical connection through the medium of art.