Hubbub Theatre Company Launches Region’s First Learning Disabled Actor Training Programme

Hubbub Theatre Company Launches Region’s First Learning Disabled Actor Training Programme

Derby-based Hubbub Theatre Company is launching the East Midlands’ first training programme designed specifically for actors with learning disabilities who want to be part of a vibrant company and potentially work on stage, screen and television.

Hubbub Theatre Company is an integrated ensemble of performers with and without learning disabilities, that creates original, devised physical theatre for both indoor and outdoor performance.

Thanks to Arts Council Elevate funding, specifically aimed at supporting the growth of organisations working with people with disabilities as part of the Creative Case for Diversity, the company is in a period of exciting development.

As part of this, over the past year, Hubbub have created partnerships with leading national companies working with people with learning disabilities, including Access All Areas, Mind The Gap, Dark Horse and HiJinx to research and develop the training programme.

This will enable talented adults with learning disabilities from across the East Midlands to progress onto the next level of their acting aspirations.

The company has now secured an additional £70,000 funding from Arts Council England to take this project forward. with match funding from Derby City Small Arts Grant and EU Big House funding supporting the growth of creative industries and job creation in the city  

Hubbub has support for the programme from Derby Theatre, regional dance house Déda, Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre, Burton Brewhouse Arts Centre and the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

The foundation year ‘Launchpad’ programme will run until July 2018, two days a week, focusing on stage presence, ensemble work and physical theatre. The course will also include the first stage of research and development of the company’s new show.

The trainee actors will work with a range of theatre practitioners from the region and beyond, including Maison Foo and masterclasses from leading national companies Told By An Idiot and Gecko - culminating in a one day event celebrating Devised Integrated Physical Theatre in June 2018.

Participants will then have the chance to join a two-year programme which will further include specialisms such as circus, puppetry and mask.

This course will also offer students the opportunity to be part of Hubbub’s new piece of theatre that will be premiered in Spring 2019 and final Advanced Level training programme is also being planned.

Hubbub Theatre Company Artistic Director Jen Sumner explained: “Budding actors have a structured pathway through drama schools which is not available to people with learning disabilities – particularly those who need support with their non-verbal communication skills.

“Thanks to the Arts Council’s national focus on diversity and inclusivity and funding support, we are able to offer this training for committed adults with learning disabilities to develop their talents and to access opportunities.

“This is an important development for Hubbub Theatre Company – elevating us to being an important part of the integrated theatre scene nationally.

“The new training programme enables us to create some high quality devised physical theatre work within the company, alongside some amazing and inspiring national artists. It is therefore a fantastic opportunity for actors with learning disabilities here in the East Midlands.

“I believe that the arts serve as a reflection on life and it is important that diverse groups are represented so that we move towards equality of opportunity and also get a truthful picture of the world we live in.’

Among the first students on the training programme will be Adam Chilcott (age) who is a member of Hubbub Theatre Company and facilitation support with the weekly drama group ‘The Hub’.

He said: “I want to do the actor training so I can be a better and more confident performer. I also love teaching other people and I want to get better and more experienced at this.  It is great to work with people as a team.”

There are a few places left for the LaunchPad course and interested potential students should initially make contact with the company for further information and to arrange a preliminary meeting.

Hubbub Theatre Company also continues to welcome young people and adults to its weekly drama groups.  ‘The Hub’ and ‘Hubbub Youth’ (13-18) based at at Déda in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter.

The groups enable people to enjoy and benefit from drama in a more informal setting. These groups work towards theatrical party nights twice a year which include performance.

The next event is the Hubbub Club Night, Winter Wonderland – a theatrical party night – on Friday 8th December7-10pm. Tickets from Deda box office Tel: 01332 370911

Hubbub Theatre Company also offer outreach workshops and training. For more information about the training programme and the theatre company, please visit or email

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