If you met Chris backstage after a big show, you might be a little surprised. Though an animated performer with an impressive range, he’s calm and measured in our conversation. His recent co-production ‘If Prison Walls Could Speak’ (inspired by the persecuted church) was given five stars by Premier Christianity magazine. But when Chris talks about aiming higher in Christian art, there’s no ego at play. And even though he’s full of thrilling ideas, he credits God first and foremost for his inspiration.

It was a different story as a teenager. Chris recalls coasting’ through school and university: I was probably having a bit of an identity crisis. I probably got to that age, you’re having to start figuring things out for yourself… there was a part of me that didn’t really know who I was and I think that also came into my faith journey as well.”

Growing up steeped in faith, his parents (church leaders Ruth and James) encouraged him towards genuine friendship with Jesus. They led by example; Chris remembers seeing them pray together often. But being known as the pastor’s son contributed to an internal struggle. The words Jesus died for you’ became easy to repeat to others without fully moving his own heart.

With three brothers, life was hectic but fun and he fondly remembers being in pantos directed by his mum. Bored by school, humour was Chris’s go-to. He was an entertainer who loved to make people laugh (but would stop short of getting kicked out of class!) and developed a love of theatre through the church drama group his mum facilitated. Along with schoolfriend Jon, his pipedream was to start a Christian theatre group one day, but it seemed too unrealistic. While Jon went on to drama studies, Chris’ plan was a history degree, then a steady job.


Adrift at university, then disillusioned by a difficult year as a teaching assistant, Chris’s faith went downhill. Pivoting into a high-pressure sales job only brought fears of being fired, and he remembers asking God, why am I here?” He even experienced suicidal thoughts and depression. It was a very dark time.”

Finally, an old mentor invited Chris to a church event, where he had a fresh encounter at the cross: Thank God I went. It’s probably one of those sliding doors moments… God met with me in such a powerful way in that time of prayer and worship. I had a real revelation of God’s love for me… It had been a long time of being in the wilderness and this was a time of reconnecting with God… the beauty and wonder of the cross brought a real change in my faith!”

Soon after, Chris remembered his dream: co-founding a Christian theatre company with Jon. It wouldn’t be easy – they had no experience and little funding – but through seeking God in prayer and advice from Chris’ parents, they trusted and obeyed.

"Artless pushes the boundaries with experimental theatre, but the ambition remains the same: to see the gospel change lives."

They founded Artless in 2015. By 2017, they found themselves performing for the Queen with support from Scripture Union! If you’d told me back in my parents’ office, you’re going to perform for the Queen and do tours and write your own productions, I’d never have believed it… If you said to [Gideon], you’re going to lead the Israelites to great victories, there’s no way he would’ve believed it, but he was obedient to God.”

Artless pushes the boundaries with experimental theatre, but the ambition remains the same: to see the gospel change lives. And Chris doesn’t take the easy route – his performances include difficult subject matter such as the doubt he himself has walked through, and suffering.

Chris wants to keep God in the centre of all his decisions and listen to Him, even when things are going particularly well. We’re aiming to do more things; there’s the risk we go into our own autopilot mode… we just want to continue to be fully reliant on God.” He remembers how the golden ephod became a snare and idol to Gideon – and he doesn’t want Artless’ success so far to become a snare either.

"It had been a long time of being in the wilderness and this was a time of reconnecting with God... the beauty and wonder of the cross brought a real change in my faith!"

Chris comes across as quietly confident, as he should be – God gave he and Jon talent for a purpose. Their show If Prison Walls Could Speak’ is breaking through the noise and connecting UK churches with the challenging story of Petr, a persecuted believer, who even travelled to watch the show for himself. One audience member was struggling with belief in God due to the existence of suffering – but since seeing the play and witnessing a different perspective of suffering, she has since started attending church again! Another audience member was so impacted, that he gave his life to Jesus. Audiences are challenged with the truth that, if Petr suffered so much for the gospel, it must be true, and worth making sacrifices for.

That’s what motivates Chris too, who prefers the path less travelled, in art, life, and in faith.