Derby Theatre commissions two inspirational writers to create new performance pieces

During these extraordinary times, and with an ongoing commitment to keep creatively and digitally connected with audiences and artists, Derby Theatre is thrilled to announce Leo Skilbeck and Rommi Smith as two writers they have commissioned to write two new short performance pieces during lockdown.

Leo Skilbeck and Rommi Smith are both highly regarded, inspirational and influential writers who have numerous writing (and other) credits to their name, and the two new short performance pieces they are each producing will be shared digitally during this period of temporary closure for the Theatre.

Leo Skilbeck is a writer/director for stage and screen and 1/3 of Milk Presents. Their work includes cabaret Chekhov (The Bear/The Proposal, Young Vic), a transmasc odyssey (Bullish - show and photography exhibition); drag king play (JOAN, Derby Theatre, winner of  Fringe First Award and Off West End Award); Communion (short play, Young Vic); Big Ben (short film, Young Vic); When We Begin (Look Left Look Right); and L (short film, Homotopia Commission). Leo is a writing fellow for Theatre Centre and currently under commission from 87Films. 

Leo's work as an associate director includes Fun Home (Young Vic); The Complete Deaths (Tim Crouch and Spymonkey Comedy); and Brassed Off, The Odyssey (Derby Theatre). Milk Presents is an Associate Company of Derby Theatre where they are currently developing a new show, Marty and the Party for mischievous under 5's and their adults. 

Rommi Smith is an award-winning poet, playwright, theatre-maker, performer and librettist. Winner of numerous prestigious residencies and commissions for institutions, ranging from the British Council to the BBC, she is a three-time BBC writer-in-residence. Rommi’s writing is broadcast on programmes and stations, including: Poetry Please, The Verb, In Tune, Woman’s Hour, Late Junction, BBC World Service and Melvyn Bragg’s acclaimed BBC series, The Matter of the North. Rommi is the inaugural British Parliamentary Writer in Residence and inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Keats’ House, Hampstead.

Shortlisted for a Southbank Show Award, Rommi’s plays have been performed as part of the Edinburgh Festival and BBC Afternoon Drama series and commissioned by theatre companies from Paines Plough to Pentabus. She is recipient of a Hedgebrook Fellowship (USA) and is a winner of The Northern Writers’ Prize for Poetry 2019 (chosen by the poet Don Paterson). She was recently awarded a prestigious Cave Canem fellowship in the US and scholarships from Hugo House and The Shipman Agency. In 2021, Rommi will be a poet-in-residence for the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. Rommi is also a scholar, completing a doctorate and will soon be Dr. Rommi Smith.

Arts and culture play a vital and essential role in so many peoples’ lives and now, more than ever before, theatre and the arts continues to play a huge part in keeping people connected, engaged, entertained, inspired and contributing to their well-being. 

In addition to these short performance piece commissions, Derby Theatre has also launched, introduced and produced lots of other content to digitally connect and engage with audiences, theatre lovers, artists, young people and families over the past few months, including DT@Home, Memory Box, Futures Unlocked, Reimagine2020, Artist Training Programmes, Open Houses, an audio series, a freelance task force, writing commissions, plus much more.

See the Derby Theatre website and social media channels for more details. Derby Theatre is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For Leo Skilbeck’s and Rommi Smith’s short performance pieces, keep an eye on the Derby Theatre website and social media channels for details of when they will be shared and available.