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Roberto Valdo Cortese

Roberto is an Italian startup entrepreneur, data activist, educator, and theatre maker based in London.

His work focuses on building platforms that allow people to gain greater agency over their lives: 

helping students excel at school as well as develop precious soft skills;

helping actors in British theatre, film, and TV fight gender inequality using data;

developing compelling stories through feminist theatre and immersive opera.

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Tutoring & Coaching

Tutoring & Coaching

Roberto currently runs Valdo Academics, an international educational consultancy which helps students excel in the IB diploma, discover their passions, and tackle the challenges of undergraduate life. 

Valdo Academics' core belief is that good grades are a tool to facilitate students' self-discovery rather than being the primary objective. Alongside the company's proven track record in helping students perform better, this has led to the creation of an in-house pedagogy. As a result, Roberto has established himself as the point of reference for Italian families in London and a key player in the international tutoring ecosystem.

The company was initially called Bloomsbury Circle, before being rebranded to facilitate an expansion in Italy, where the company now focuses its commercial operations.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship

Roberto is interested in the ways in which social entrepreneurship can be harnessed to launch, augment, and accelerate creative projects and social initiatives.

Roberto's tutoring business reinvests all of its profits in the arts. The first company they launched was Power Play, an award-winning feminist theatre company which, in turn, finances itself by providing data analytics solutions to arts organisations seeking to promote gender equality within the British film, TV, and theatre industries

Feminist Theatre

Feminist Theatre

Roberto runs Power Play Theatre C.I.C. in conjunction with his two wonderful co-founders Polly Creed and Sophia Compton. At Power Play, he is a producer, dramaturg, and Head of Research on the data analytics branch.

Power Play is a not-for-profit feminist theatre company which takes over non-conventional spaces to set immersive productions that tell stories by women about women.

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Written by Emma Dennis-Edwards
Directed by Rachel Nwokoro

Associate director: Sophia Compton

Co-produced by Power Play Theatre 
Harts Theatre Company

Performed at the Bunker Theatre
Bernie Grants Arts Centre



Power Play's first endeavor was a showcase of four site specific shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.

The project happened at Power Play HQ, a large flat which was turned into an immersive venue in affiliation with The Pleasance Theatre trust.

The plays were:

  • The Empty Chair
    Written by Polly Creed
    Directed by Seren John-Wood

Select Accolades and press:

  • Winners: Filipa Bragança Award for Funeral Flowers

  • Winners: Clean Break's Edinburgh mentorship scheme

  • Review: ★★★★★ To Do List on Funeral Flowers

  • Review: ★★★ Three Weeks on Funeral Flowers

  • Review: ★★★ The Skinny on Funeral Flowers

  • Nominated: The Sit-Up Awards, The Empty Chair

Data Activism

Data Activism

As data activists, Power Play offer data consultancy solutions to arts organizations seeking to make a positive difference in gender inequality in the industry.


Roberto is the Head of Research of Power Play, and manages this side of the company. 

50:50 VISION​ 

Roberto is currently project managing 50:50 Vision, the largest study in gender inequality across the theatre, film, and TV industries in the UK, as Head of Research of Power Play in a collaboration with ERA50:50.

The project uses cutting edge techniques in online data harvesting to compare the average career path of male and female actors in the British performing arts industry.

Roberto's project management duties include overseeing compliance, study design, data analysis, and PR, managing a different small team for each of these phases.



Power Play recently completed the first ever statistical study of gender inequality at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.


The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, and second largest ticketed event worldwide after the Olympics, yet it had never been scrutinised in terms of gender equality.

  • The study was processed by Roberto alongside UCL econometricians

  • It uncovered an alarming 60% gender earnings gap 

  • It also pointed to systemic barriers against artists without financial safety nets, with a median income as low as £9.52 a day. 

  • Amongst other findings, the study also showed that women were very well represented at the Fringe, unlike in major theatre venues. Therefore the study showed that there is a leak in the pipeline between the Fringe’s pool of emerging talent and top-level theatre - possibly because of the systemic barriers for women around pay.


Power Play ran a data visualisation campaign at the Edinburgh Fringe, providing calling cards and statistics about women in theatre to audience members across the Fringe.


The initiative was celebrated by Deborah Frances White from the Guilty Feminist Podcast (a platform with over 50 million downloads).


Power Play representatives were subsequently invited to the "Visibility" episode, which you can listen to below.​

Immersive Opera

Immersive Opera

Roberto is currently working on a contemporary opera that grapples with elements within counterculture, mental health and the notion of theatre space as a revolutionary platform.
The initiative is undertaken by Roberto's production company - The Phobos Laboratory.


The company and the project will be launched in Autumn 2020, in collaboration with award winning composer David Denyer.  

Education & Mindfulness

Education & Mindfulness

Roberto graduated from UCL with a First Class Honours in Economics & Philosophy. During this time, he was awarded the Faculty Scholarship for Undergraduate Excellence which is conferred to the most outstanding student across a spread of more than 25 degree courses. 


Before studying at UCL, he was a full scholarship student at the United World College of the Adriatic having secured a place following a 3% acceptance rate national selection. He graduated top of his class, alongside his two wonderful roommates, with 44/45 International Baccalaureate points (top 0.3% worldwide). 

With time, Roberto realised that these achievements were the fruit of much hard work, sought under the potentially harmful premise of attaining serenity through external validation. Following a transformative encounter with mindfulness practice in Plum Village, much of his work became structured around enabling his colleagues and students to be more present and peaceful - e.g. by incorporating MBSR techniques in the workplace.



You can find Roberto at


Or follow him in the rambly world of Twitter

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