Derby Theatre commissions two pieces for 2018

Steve Orme

Derby Theatre has commissioned two plays to be made and premiered in 2018.

Beth Shouler and Hannah Stone will work with writer Tom Powell on a new play The Bear Hunt. Shouler was an assistant director at Nottingham Playhouse and Lakeside Arts Centre. Having moved back to the East Midlands, she is keen to establish her work in the region while continuing to make connections with London venues. Stone is an actor and co-founder of Midlands-based The Gramophones Theatre Company who have toured extensively across the UK.

Dante or Die, a London-based theatre company, will create a show called User Not Found about what happens to our digital profile after we die.

Derby Theatre’s professional artist development programme In Good Company and its partner venues Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester, The Old Library in Mansfield and Drill Hall from Lincoln One Venues met 14 theatre-makers and companies over two days of interviews for the two commissions. One was to be given to artists based in the East Midlands and the other to an organisation elsewhere in the UK.

Each commission comes with £5,500 investment, two weeks’ rehearsal space at one or two of the venues and an opportunity to première the piece at Derby Theatre’s Departure Lounge festival in summer 2018.

In Good Company’s producer Emily Coleman said, “it was great to meet so many inspiring artists who’ve been making and touring exciting theatre for the past ten years, and to hear about their plans for new productions. It was a really difficult decision and we could have easily commissioned many of the projects but we’re really excited about working with Beth, Hannah and Dante or Die.”

Dante or Die co-artistic director Terry O'Donovan said, “we’re really looking forward to collaborating with such a diverse team of people from amazing organisations and bringing our brand of site-specific storytelling to Midlands audiences for the first time.”

Beth Shouler said, “we're thrilled to get this opportunity. This is opening a door for each of us to grow substantially as artists. I’m really excited about directing this extraordinary debut play from Tom Powell, and Hannah and I can't wait to bring it to East Midlands and London audiences.

“We're passionate about new writing. This play is dark, funny, provocative and gets uncomfortably under your skin. We're really looking forward to sharing it with an audience.”