Looking Back at Kes - DT Memory Box


As part of our new Memory Box feature, we'll be delving into our archive and looking back at a different Derby Theatre production each week.

Next up is Kes, performed back in Autumn 2013.

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts, memories and pictures of the shows you enjoyed at Derby Theatre and any archive materials you may have on FacebookTwitter or Instagram with #DTMemoryBox.

"Since the arrival of Sarah Brigham, it has begun to feel as if theatre is taking root in the city"
The Guardian

Key Facts

- Kes was the second in-house Derby Theatre production after the venue reopened in 2012 - there's now been 40!

- This was the first Derby Theatre production to be directed by our Artistic Director Sarah Brigham, who took over the role in January 2013

- The cast included Sam Jackson (best known for playing Alex in E4 teen drama Skins) as Billy, John Elkington (best known as the Nottingham Playhouse panto dame) as Farthing and Olivier Award-winning actor Paul Clarkson (who was also an Associate Director for Derby Playhouse). 

- With a reperatory youth theatre of 30 young people, Kes kick-started our long-standing trend of including large young and community companies in our productions alongside professional actors

Looking Back at Kes 1

Photography © Robert Day

- Our Company Aside programme launched alongside the production, allowing students and members of the community to shadow and assist during the rehearsal process. 4 roles were created - two Assistant/Shadow Directors, Wardrobe Assistant and Stage Management Assistant.

- Audiences could enjoy a combi deal with QUAD (who were screening the film version during our run) and see both the stage production and the film

- The teaser trailer was shot on location on a quiet country lane in the Peak District and featured Sam Jackson and a live kestrel - whose owner was present during the shoot. Watch the trailer below...

Photo Gallery

Posted by Derby Theatre on Friday, 13 September 2013

About the Play

Set against a northern backdrop, Kes is based on the well-known and much-loved book A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines, and adapted by Lawrence Till. 

A coming-of-age classic told with humour and warmth which continues to speak, and be relevant to, audiences of all ages through its powerful story of struggle in a tough world.

It's 1960s Britain and daring to hope can be a dangerous thing. But 'our Billy' is brave enough to break free from the hardship, coal dust and the bullying he endures from his family and teachers. Adamant on embarking on a journey towards a brighter future, Billy realises his ambition of hope and freedom through his kestrel, Kes.

Billy and Kes, through a shared aspiration to reach new horizons, form a unique bond through training, love and hope. But injustice and heartbreak impact on their journeys too, as Billy tragically discovers.

Looking Back at Kes 2

Throwback Interview with Sarah Brigham from 2013

by Nigel Powlson

Re-visit the origins of Derby Theatre's first year after re-opening in this throwback interview with Sarah Brigham. Many of the hallmarks seen in Derby Theatre productions today began from the production of Kes.

"It’s still very much a story for our times: it says something very important about the role of children and young people in our society and how we need to nurture them to ensure we all ultimately flourish."

Read the Interview

Mine Visit

Kes company at the mine

With the story taking place in a mining community, the cast, in preperation and research, took a trip to the National Mining Museum during the first week of rehearsals. A tradition that continued with Brassed Off (last week's Memory Box show) in 2015.

Audience Reaction

Here's what audiences thought - do you remember seeing the show? Let us know your stories FacebookTwitter or Instagram with #DTMemoryBox


Looking Back at Kes 3

Next Week's Memory

Great Expectations from Autumn 2017

Looking Back at Great Expectations