Spotlight On... Abbey Hub: Interview with Tom Craig on the Reimagine project

Meet Tom Craig: the Community and Learning Associate at Derby Theatre.

Tom has been instrumental in delivering many of the Theatre's creative learning projects in schools and the community, working with young people in the Abbey Hub as part of This Is Derby and Reimagine. Let's find out more...

How would you describe Derby Theatre as a learning theatre?

Derby Theatre embeds learning opportunities throughout its infrastructure to offer young people and the public, pathways into creative industries and opportunities.

Who are the young people that you work with?

I work with young people who live in the Abbey Ward of Derby. Specifically, pupils from Firs Estate, Beckett and Bemrose Primary and Secondary Schools.

Can you please tell us about the projects you have worked on?

I have completed various projects with the schools and communities. Bringing the three primary schools together, and working from inside Bramblebrook Community Centre, myself, the schools and supporting creatives have curated large scale community performance projects.

In 2019, we created a re-telling of The Jungle Book, where young people, working alongside a creative team of Sinfonia Viva, Baby People and Artcore, developed a curtain raiser piece that was performed before Derby Theatre's production of The Jungle Book in 2019.

Photos by Black Mercury Photography: The Jungle Book workshop as part of This Is Derby

Last year we were also set to stage an original piece co-created with writer Simon Marshall called Finders Keepers. Using the same model as The Jungle Book, however this time with an updated creative team consisting of Musical Directors, Rukus and Zee (Baby People) and Set Designer, Georgie White. 

Alongside producing and delivering these large community projects, I also deliver weekly workshops in the three schools. These have consisted of the base development of drama skills, exploring drama for democracy, free music sports and art workshops, and creative provision during lockdown to support staff and pupils.

With the secondary students at Bemrose, I have worked in collaboration with Baby People Artist & Musician Zeo and Filmmaker Omar Khan. Together, we worked closely with the schools' Apple Tree Unit students and the outstanding staff members - Anna and Fiona.

With this group we developed Bemrose Knights, a creative response piece to Alex Wheatle's young adult novel Crongton Knights

This documentary film, showcasing the response and the creative process, was scheduled to premiere at the press night of Pilot Theatre's stage adaptation of Crongton Knights at Derby Theatre before it was cancelled due to Covid-19. 

Looking ahead, we are set to recommence the delivery of our work in schools after Easter 2021.

Bemrose Knights

Who else was involved in the projects?

I work predominately, in partnership with our Cultural Education Partners, Baby People, Sinfonia Viva, Artcore and Deda in particular. From this pool of artists, I produce creative teams suitable for the needs of the project and based upon the requirements of the participants we work with. 

What do you think this particular project's legacy will be?

The projects I have been involved with evidence the power of partnership and commitment from schools, families and organisations to provide inspiring pathways for young people in the city of Derby. I hope that the work we have created is the start of a long-lasting relationship with the communities that live and work in Abbey Ward. 

You can watch the documentaries for my projects on this page for more on the importance and impact of creative engagement with 'hard to reach' or 'low social-economic' communities. 

Firs in Lockdown 2

What do you hope the young people have learnt and achieved from being involved? 

I hope the young people have been given the opportunity to express themselves. Have felt safe, inspired, and motivated to hopefully continue pursuing their creativity. I feel privileged to have worked with so many talented young people and thank the schools and community champions I have engaged with, wholeheartedly for their support and belief.

What have you learnt from leading on the project?

I have learnt that a project is only as strong as its partnerships and am incredibly grateful for the excellence our creative partners have and continue to contribute to the work I produce in Abbey Ward. 

Find out more about Reimagine