Derby theatre company celebrates successful first year of training course for Learning Disabled actors

6 June 2018

A Derby-based theatre company which works with learning disabled actors is celebrating the first year of its pioneering training course with a special event.

Hubbub Theatre Company, an integrated physical theatre company which works with actors with moderate learning disabilities, is hosting LaunchPad: ‘Exploring the Space in Between’ on Friday 22 June.

The event will be held at Déda on Chapel Street in Derby from 10am to 6pm to mark the end of the first year of its Actor Training Course - which launched in November 2017 and is the first of its kind in the East Midlands.

The celebration event will enable performers, theatre makers, producers, artists, writers and creatives to experience working in a theatre space with actors with and without learning disabilities.

Hubbub received £6,000 in funding through Derby Theatre’s business support service In Good Company (IGC) to help develop the course and organise the event which will showcase the achievements of the performers and share Hubbub’s technique and philosophy. Over 50 creative specialists and actors from across the country, with and without learning disabilities, will attend and work with Hubbub and its project partners: Gecko; Told by an Idiot and circus artist Cat Boot from CircaMedia Bristol; and Can’t Sit Still Theatre Company.

Hubbub’s Actor Training Course has so far helped eight talented disabled adults from across the region to progress onto the next level of their acting career.

The foundation year programme has been running two days a week, focusing on stage presence, ensemble work and physical theatre. The actors have been working with a range of theatre practitioners from the region and beyond which will culminate in the one-day celebration event.

Hubbub Theatre company artistic director, Jen Sumner, said: “We’re very much looking forward to our LaunchPad event in June – it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase the development of our actors and the integrated physical theatre work we have created since the training programme commenced last November. Our actors have worked with some very talented and high-profile artists who have equally learnt from our performers about working collaboratively with learning disabled artists and actors with different needs.

“The training programme has provided an excellent foundation on which our artists can develop their skills and careers further in the future, as well as understanding what it is to be part of a vibrant and professional company and the commitment required to develop new touring shows. I am very proud of our performers and what they have achieved over the last year and the status we have achieved as being an important part of the integrated theatre scene nationally. It’s all thanks to funding and support we’ve received through In Good Company, Arts Council England and Derby City Small Arts Grant.”

In Good Company (IGC) is a business support service at Derby Theatre. IGC is part of The Big House which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Funding from IGC covered a number of elements to support LaunchPad: ‘Exploring the Space in Between’, including a co-producer, two creative specialists, a composer/musician and filmmaker.

Notes to editors

Media contact: Charlotte Goldthorpe at Capital B Media charlotte@capitalbmedia.co.uk or 01226 766900

Attached photographs show the Hubbub Actor Training Course in action

Jen Sumner, Hubbub’s artistic director, is available for interviews

Hubbub Theatre Company is an exciting, integrated physical theatre company working with actors with moderate learning disabilities. Hubbub creates original devised work for indoor and outdoor performance that is physical, visual and suitable for audiences of all ages and abilities. Hubbub has performed at high-profile venues and events in the East Midlands, including the closing of the Paralympics Games Celebrations in Derby in 2012 and has been commissioned to create a new outdoor show for this year’s Derby Festé later this year.

The company is unique in the East Midlands for its vision to produce quality, innovative theatre that integrates actors with learning disabilities into professional theatre, as well as offering high-quality community participation workshops and opportunities.  Work focuses on developing skills in theatre, circus, dance, music, puppetry and mask.

The theatre company was formed in 2012 by drama and movement therapist and theatre practitioner Jennifer Sumner from Belper.  Jennifer is also an associate artist with Maison Foo Theatre Company - previously artists in residence at Déda and a current associate company of Derby Theatre.

The company is in an exciting phase of development having recently received Arts Council Elevate funding to develop a model for an Actor Training Course for performers with learning disabilities, with match funding from Derby City Small Arta Grant and ERDF Big House funding from Derby Theatre’s business support service, In Good Company. Hubbub Theatre Company receives additional support from regional dance house Déda, Derby Theatre, Attenborough Arts, Leicester, Burton Brewhouse, Central School of Speech and Drama and Derby City Council.

In Good Company (IGC) is a professional development programme for artists making work in the East Midlands. IGC’s business support service provides a wide range of targeted business support, from workshops to one-to-one mentoring, for theatre makers, performance artists, actors, producers, directors and those forging a career in theatre in the D2N2 region (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire).

IGC is part of The Big House

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), The Big House project, provides free support for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire-based creative and digital businesses. From developing potential business ideas, nurturing start-ups and new entrepreneurs, to working with established businesses wanting to grow, our partner network provides specialist support. You can access grants, 1-2-1 mentoring, networking events and workshops to help build contacts, skills and knowledge to succeed. #TheBigHouse #ERDF. Match funding has also been secured from the Creative Local Growth Fund programme, funded by Arts Council England. 

European Regional Development Fund

The Big House Project is receiving up to £4.5 million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Derby Theatre (previously Derby Playhouse) has a long and rich history of delivering high-quality drama to audiences. Through Derby Theatre's unique partnership with the University of Derby, and as an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation, the Theatre has transformed from a traditional producing house, to an organisation of training, mentorship and artistic excellence.

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit www.capitalbmedia.co.uk.

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