Derby theatre company celebrates successful first year of training course for learning disabled actors

Hubbub LaunchPad programme

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 next month.

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.