Derby Theatre announce new associates for 2022/2023

Derby Theatre is thrilled to announce a new cohort of associate companies and artists for 2022/23

Derby Theatre’s commitment to supporting and developing talent in the region is at the heart of our mission, and these 10 companies will be supported by the Theatre to make new work and develop as a company, whilst also being embedded in the venue and helping us to shape the future of theatre in Derby. 

The 10 companies, who are based in and around Derby and committed to making work with Derby communities, are:

Anansi Theatre Company, B Team, Emily Holyoake, Farrell Cox, Front Door Theatre, Ghostlight Theatre Collective, Hubbub Theatre Company, LaPelle’s Factory, Rebecca A Withey and Simon Marshall.

Over the past year, as part of their ongoing mission and commitment to the development of regional artists, Derby Theatre has engaged, interacted, and admired the work produced by several companies and individual artists. It is their hard work, passion and commitment to both Derby and the Theatre that has created long-lasting relationships with our team and audiences.

The companies were recruited following an open call and interview process which engaged both the artistic team from the theatre and independent artists on the interview panel.  The selected artists were chosen for their commitment to Derby and Derby Theatre, innovative approach to creating new work and being at a point in their career where this associateship would help accelerate their company and practice to the next level.  Through being offered an associateship, each successful company/artist will be introduced to an exciting and insightful 18-month professional development scheme offered by Derby Theatre between January 2022 and July 2023.

This newly developed associate scheme has been developed in collaboration with independent artists and will offer a wealth of invaluable opportunities to help guide, support and grow each associates' craft and business. This includes, but is not limited to, £1,000 in funding, free rehearsal space, business and accounting support, marketing and branding support, invites to social/key events and professional development through the appropriate mentoring.

Sarah Brigham (Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Derby Theatre) said:

“This exciting cohort of artists allows us to put Derby at the centre of our artistic development programme at a time when the city is thriving with new cultural energy.  We continue to be the home of, and lead partner of, In Good Company, the flagship talent development programme for the Midlands and are proud that we can support artists through that from across the region.  But this new scheme allows to support even further those artists who are committed to our city.  I am excited to see the impact these artists will have on us as a venue, on the city at large and to see how we can support their artistic practice to thrive.”

Introducing the new Derby Theatre Associates

Anansi Theatre

Artist and Artistic Director Lauren Nicole Whitter had the vision to create a theatre company which foregrounds important civic issues. A strong advocate for de-stigmatising mental health, Lauren believes all womxn of colour should have a space to create, share and feel safe in doing so. Anansi concentrates on community engagement, seeking to work with hard-to-reach communities and young people.  Womxn identifying disabled and the LGBTQ+ communities are also an integral part of Anansi’s remit, making access to art safer, more diverse, accessible and inclusive for everyone. Intersectional women are at the heart of Anansi Theatre Company, including Executive Director, Sam Girdham. With a brilliant team of creative women of colour, who identify within many other protected characteristics, Anansi Theatre Company is ready to change the world.

B Team

B Team are a theatre company who create devised shows about environmental issues. They are based in the East Midlands and are a proud product of the region’s artist development offer. Their shows are narrative, and movement led. They keep an ear to the ground when it comes to conversations about the climate crisis by collaborating with everyone from academics to young people. We exist to tell stories that utilise empathy as a tool in climate communications. Driven by the belief that telling stories about the environment is vital to raise questions, B Team challenge themselves and find joy.

Emily Holyoake 

Emily is a Derby-based playwright and theatre-maker. Her work usually explores the impact of technology on human relationships through a queer feminist lens. She’s especially interested in digital theatre and will be exploring online/onstage hybrid work in an upcoming commission.
Previous commissions include Snake Oil (2021; Derby Theatre); The Next Best Thing (2021; Chronic Insanity), Ada (2017; Poetical Machines), and Stasis (2015; Encompass Productions). Emily is also an associate artist of Chronic Insanity theatre company. She has an MA in Theatre Practice and a BA in Drama, both from the University of Exeter.

Farrell Cox

A black British physical actor, aerialist and theatre-maker; performing nationally and internationally, Farrell has worked as a performer and deviser. As a performer, Farrell uses versatility as a dancer, clown, and aerialist to captivate the audience. Bringing lightness and humour into her work and enthusiasm to explore a variety of narratives using physical theatre. Farrell’s aim is always to tell the truth within a narrative, not shy away from the harrowing parts but allow the lightness and humour to be brought forward. Creating performance excites her as a form of representation to encourage others and is very passionate about access and wellbeing for audiences and creative teams.

Front Door Theatre

Born out of the desire to create something during the Covid-19 pandemic, Artistic Director Daniel Ellis decided that the only way to make theatre happen was to take it directly to audience’s homes. Daniel was successful in applying for Arts Council England support to take a short 15-minute performance, Twas The Night Before Christmas to the homes of Derby families in 2020....and that was the beginning! Front Door Theatre have since been commissioned by Derby CAN to co-create a 15-minute doorstep performance with Derby Carers. This saw A Derby Ditty around Derby homes, celebrating the wonderful city.

Ghostlight Theatre Collective

Kai and Bee are early-career freelance theatre-makers, forming Ghostlight Theatre Collective. Kai is currently studying towards a PhD, investigating site-responsive performance. Bee is a recent graduate with BA Honours in Technical Theatre, during which she trained at Derby Theatre with a focus on stage management and lighting. Since initially graduating in 2019, Kai has worked on educational and community-centred outreach projects with young people. Most recently, Kai was part of the cast for Derby Theatre's Treasure Island, a fully integrated BSL production. Bee's professional credits include Derby Theatre's The Wind in the Willows, Extra Time, and Treasure Island, as an Assistant Stage Manager. Bee has also worked for Derby Theatre on their Culture Cares Conference as a Deputy Stage Manager, building on her previous experience of working with young people. As Ghostlight Theatre Collective, Kai and Bee intend to combine their experiences and practice to create site-responsive work which engages with and within the community, exploring themes of identity, memory, and place.

Hubbub Theatre Company

Hubbub Theatre Company is an integrated physical theatre ensemble creating original, visual productions for indoor and outdoor performance. One of a few UK providers of actor training for Learning Disabled and Neurodivergent creatives, collaborating with National and International companies such as Gecko and Told by an Idiot, and an ally company of Separate Doors UK. Hubbub offers a community programme of work and is part of Derby City’s Reimagine project. They offer training and workshops in their approach to inclusive work ‘The Hubbub Way’. They are committed to kindness in all their work on a personal, collective and global level.

LaPelle’s Factory

LaPelle’s Factory is the creative partnership between performance makers Olwen Davies and Ollie Smith. They are the couple-next-door: just don’t trust them with your pets. They often collaborate with writer Mufaro Makubika (who you can trust). Their work leans into the camp schlock of horror movies and faded rockstars on the one hand and crippling social anxiety and paranoia on the other. They make theatre, one-to-one, experiential, film, and audio performance, and have a sustained touring record. They have been regularly supported by Arts Council England, In Good Company, Derby Theatre, Attenborough Arts Centre (Leicester), Nottingham Playhouse, China Plate and Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. Both Olwen and Ollie also have portfolio arts careers working variously in performing, programming, producing and HE lecturing.

Rebecca A Withey

Rebecca is a performing artist and writer. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz, Latin American and ballroom dance and has a BA honour in Professional Dance Studies. Her television career began in 2004 when she was cast in BBC 1’s Grange Hill as sixth-former Holly Parsons. Since then, she has enjoyed an active film and television career, starring in numerous short films, dramas and sketch shows. As a published poet and songwriter, Rebecca produced two songs with composer Mark Smith, one of which featured on BBC1 East Midlands Today as being the first all-deaf musical production in the UK. Rebecca’s intends to explore the accessibility of signed song and to ultimately produce deaf-led musical theatre. 

Simon Marshall

Simon is a playwright, producer and writing facilitator from Derbyshire. His playwrighting practice blends a strong Midlands heart with a continued exploration of sexuality, belonging and ambition. His debut audio play Kilburn (Not London) about care experience and queer rural identity was launched in 2021 and profiled at London Podcast Festival. Other work includes: Beau Repaire for Derby Theatre and Paines Plough, and Bonfire, a queer monologue-megamix set to debut in 2022. Alongside his writing he produces participation initiatives involving diverse local communities including Derbyshire LGBT+. Simon is keen to enable and champion more opportunities for new writers in Derbyshire.

Derby Theatre now looks forward to embarking on an exciting working relationship with their new associates during 2022 and beyond.