In March of this year we learnt the devastating news that friend and founding member of Encompass Productions Joshua Tobias Mills had passed at 28 years old from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). Our thoughts are with Josh’s family and close friends.
Josh was an integral part of Encompass in its early days, helping to form the company prior to the its debut production. He was a much-loved friend and creative, spending years prior creating theatre with many of us at university before founding the now-hugely-popular improv comedy troupe Shoot from The Hip, which fundraised for Encompass’ production efforts back in the day. He also performed in the first-ever Bare Essentials. His most memorable role was the part of “Simpson” in Encompass’ debut London and Edinburgh Fringe show What It Feels Like, in 2011.
His legacy both in and out of Encompass is undeniable. Anyone who has worked with Josh would tell you that the man was the definition of a gentleman both inside and out of the rehearsal room. Josh entered rehearsals with a warmth and enthusiasm that was infectious, yet was always a keen listener with an open mind – always concerned with what was trying to be achieved as a collective. This was a cornerstone of the way Encompass wanted to work and Josh was an ambassador for this. He would also find ways to contribute to a show not necessarily to do with acting – in the case of What It Feels Like, organising both the transport of our set and finding us rather lush accommodation for our month-long Edinburgh Festival run. He had an undeniable comic talent and more often than not rehearsals had to take a pause – not necessarily because he was laughing, but because everyone around him – including the directors – were laughing at something he was doing.
It is always difficult for us as a company to find the words when someone is taken too soon. The loss of Josh has deeply affected those of us who studied with him, performed with him and as friends grew with him. However, through our various conversations of grief and reminiscence we have realised that while he is no longer with us, Mr. Mills truly lived. Travelling, exercising, motorbiking, acting, improvising – the man lived his life to its fullest, bringing smiles to all our faces throughout his 28 years. He was the shining example of someone who was grateful for what was right in front of him, and made the most of it. Our every memory of him is one that leads to a smile - and for that Josh, we say thank you.