Derby Theatre's Highlights of 2019

2019 has been a fantastic year for Derby Theatre! As 2020 and a new decade approaches, join us as we take a look back at our highlights of 2019...


Our Artistic Director and Chief Executive Sarah Brigham was listed in The Stage 100 list of theatre’s most influential people for the second year running moving up 13 places to 70.  

Derby Theatre and Derby-based theatre company, Maison Foo hosted the second Meet Your Neighbour, a free event open to all, a chance to meet new people from the local community, share food and drink, share stories, exchange traditions and have fun!


February saw the opening of our co-production with Pilot Theatre of Malorie Blackman’s poignant political novel Noughts and Crosses.

“Epic… totally engaging drama for adults and teenagers alike"  East Midlands Theatre  ★★★★★

We also produced What Fatima Did   in association with Tamasha, a funny, thought-provoking exploration of attitudes to identity, freedom and multiculturalism in contemporary Britain.

L-R Billy Harris as Callum and Heather Agyepong as Sephy in Noughts and Crosses. L-R Terry Haywood as Craig and Taja Luegaezor Christian as Stacey in What Fatima Did. Photos by Robert Day.


In Good Company, the Theatre’s professional artist development programme (in partnership with 9 other cultural organisations and companies from across the Midlands) offers more mid-career commissions to regional artists and companies.


Derby Theatre – with Artcore, Baby People, Déda, Derby County Community Trust, Derby Museums, East Midlands Caribbean Carnival Arts Network, QUAD and Sinfonia ViVA (collectively known as the Derby Cultural Education Partnership) was awarded £1.1 million from the Arts Council Youth Performance Partnership Fund for the continuation of This is Derby. This is Derby provided new opportunities for more children and young people, aged 8-18, particularly from areas of low cultural engagement and high levels of deprivation to take part in high quality cultural activities.

There was also swinging and singing in the jungle during Easter 2019 with our production of The Jungle Book  which contained fully integrated BSL and captioning, making the production fully accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences

Our 2020 Easter production will be Treasure Island  and will also contain fully integrated BSL and captioning.

“5/5... will keep the whole family entertained”  Derby Telegraph ★★★★★

L-R Ivan Stott as Baloo, Iniki Mariano as Mowgli. Photo Robert Day.


We once again hosted a regional showcase as part of National Theatre's Connections festival where seven young theatre companies came to Derby Theatre to perform their own productions.

As part of our Learning Theatre model, second year Contemporary Theatre and Performance and Technical Theatre students from the University of Derby performed George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, on our main stage. The production was directed by Sarah Brigham, the Theatre’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive.

We also showcased and celebrated student work in our Studio with performances from third year Contemporary Theatre and Performance students including Five Kinds of Silence  and The Pillowman. 


We hosted Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sparkling family musical, Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, to life in a colourful explosion of joy to sold-out audiences.

Derby Theatre was thrilled to be one of the two venues selected to receive the Arts Council England funding, coming from the National Lottery of £1.5 million over three years to become a Producing Hub. Derby Theatre will use the funding in 2020 to create new work with audiences and communities at its heart, working closely with partners from the city and beyond to deliver the various strands of the project.

Also in June, our Year 4-6 Youth Theatre groups brought to life two imaginative stories in their showcase performance in our studio.


This summer, we welcomed and celebrated the local amateur theatre community for The Eagle Awards 2019.

Also in July, following the huge success of The Blue Road in 2018, Derby Youth Theatre year 10-13 groups performed a brand new play, Influence, by Andy McGregor.

Returning for a seventh year was Departure Lounge, In Good Company's hugely successful summer festival of fresh, new and exciting theatre. This year’s Festival was the best-selling and most popular to date with a variety of Midlands artists work on show.

As part of this, The Shed was commissioned, a touring reconfigurable garden shed, which has subsequently toured across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The SHED at Departure Lounge 2019. Photo by Matt Cawrey.


August saw the opening of FIVE, our summer show in co-production with Winter Walker and Theatre Hullabaloo for under 5s in the Studio, a marvellous and magical theatrical experience exploring the five senses. Families enjoyed a free stay and play area and ice cream before and after the show.


The first ever Derby Signfest Festival  was opened by The Mayor of Derby, Councillor Frank Harwood. Signfest Festival  was a week-long festival in Derby celebrating British Sign Language and bringing communities together.

In September, in co-production with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, we revived Richard Bean’s smash-hit comedy, One Man Two Guvnors. This hilarious farce featured a side-splitting mix of slapstick comedy from a hugely talented cast and excellent live music by the talented skiffle band, The Rozzers.

We also hosted Open Door’s Ignite event, a panel discussion with leading industry professionals from the worlds of film, television and theatre, which aimed to give young people the opportunity to ask questions from those already working within the industry.


In October, we celebrated Black History Month with a range of activities around August Wilson’s Two Trains Running, including pre-show music and a themed food event.

Derby Theatre expanded its Board of Trustees and were thrilled to win the Excellence in Arts Education Award at the UK Theatre Awards 2019.


We welcomed Deafinitely Theatre back for another year with their sell-out production of Sarah Kane’s searing final play, 4.48 Psychosis, performed in British Sign Language and spoken English for the very first time.


We were delighted to find out that we have been shortlisted for the Regional Theatre of the Year Awards as part of The Stage Awards 2020.

This year’s Christmas show is a festive favourite from Christmas past. A Christmas Carol  is proving a hit with both critics and audiences alike and is our best-selling Christmas production.

In the Studio, Little Red is showing audiences why she’s #NotSoLittle in Little Red Riding Hood, our family show for under 7s.

L-R The Cast of A Christmas Carol. L-R Bethan Morgan as Grandma, Tilly-Mae Millbrook as Little Red Riding Hood and Ivan Stott as The Big Bad Wolf. Photo by Robert Day.

Wow, what a year! As 2019 comes to an end, we'd just like to say a huge thank you to our loyal audiences for your continued support. We look forward to welcoming you all back in 2020.