Arts Derbyshire


Hubbub Celebrates Ten Years of Kindness

A pioneering integrated theatre company, based in Derby, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a special programme of performances, workshops and an exhibition.

Hubbub Theatre Company brings together learning disabled and non learning disabled actors from across the region to create original indoor and outdoor work which it performs across the UK.

It offers the only actor training programme in the East Midlands for learning disabled actors, endorsed by Derby Theatre and Déda, as well as a broad community engagement programme and training for other organisations to promote inclusive and integrated work.

The tenth anniversary celebrations will start with the premiere of ‘The Drum’ as part of Derby Festé this September.

Hubbub Theatre Company will perform two shows in their new outdoor performance space at Markeaton Park on Saturday September 24. The performance is accompanied by opportunities to take part in drumming, bunting making and dancing and takes the audience on a colourful journey of one boy who trades acts of kindness to achieve his heart’s desire is to have a drum.

The lead actor is Bharat Singh who joined Hubbub in 2017 and has’since featured in the company’s co-created work, including ‘The (not so) Quiet Revolution of Kindness’ at Festé 2018 and the short film ‘The Silent Treatment’.

He specialises in comedy, character work and is a skilled percussionist.  He particularly loves film and was scouted for a professional paid acting role in the British indie-film ‘7 Deadly Idiots’ in 2021 with internationally acclaimed theatre company ‘Told by an Idiot’.

Bharat said: “I am very much looking forward to the audience feedback to ‘The Drum’ at Festé.  I have always enjoyed telling stories and I hope to one day make my own film to tell stories of my own or those based on true events.”

The premiere of ‘The Drum’ will coincide with the launch of a special exhibition at Hubbub’s host venue, Déda, in Derby’s Chapel Street which will highlight a decade of work with their learning disabled community across the East Midlands.  The exhibition will open in September and continue until December 2022.

Déda, which has been Hubbub’s home since 2019, will also open a new studio space this Autumn which offers Hubbub more space to develop its ground-breaking work and will support the development of Hubbub’s pioneering creative training offer ‘ The Hubbub Way’,

This was piloted, with 100% positive feedback, in 2022 – thanks to Arts Council England funding. Based on more than 25 years of practice, Hubbub Artistic Director Jen Sumner developed this programme with support from Helen Baggett (GECKO) and the first cohort of trainees.

The training shares Hubbub’s approach to co-creating with a diverse group of people, with kindness and equity at the heart and are available to cultural, educational and social care organisations who want to work creatively and inclusively.

Hubbub are also hoping to offer a second intensive training programme in the near future. An event and workshop for creative professionals to learn more about the work is planned at Derby Theatre in October.

Accompanying The Drum performance-events, Hubbub are offering creative workshops to help spread Hubbub’s message of kindness in a fun and creative way, with our ‘Agents of Kindness’.

The workshops are available to schools and organisations working with learning disabled and neuro-divergent children, young people and adults, and are designed to improve individuals’ sense of wellbeing, creative expression, self-esteem and teamworking skills.

Drama and movement therapist and creative practitioner Jen Sumner set up Hubbub in 2012. She said: “Hubbub was established to create theatre that integrates learning disabled and non learning disabled actors of the highest possible quality.

“Our work is centred on wellbeing, creativity and connection but, above all, kindness with a firm belief that every human being has a place in the world and is equal.

“We have achieved a great deal in the past ten years but there is still so much we want to do.  However, as with many other small arts organisations, our main constraints are down to lack of funding.

“Our anniversary celebrations will therefore coincide with the launch of a crowdfunding appeal in the coming months which, I hope will secure our future for the next ten years and beyond.”

Among the learning disabled actors who have developed their craft through Hubbub is Bethany Smith who has been training with the company since 2016 and particularly excels in contemporary dance and movement.

Her own choreography has been recognised in local and regional awards programmes and she also co-leads the weekly Hub community drama group.

Bethany said: “Hubbub has helped me develop my skills but more than that, it makes me feel safe and that I belong.”

Her mum, Liz, continued: “Hubbub has had a huge impact on Bethany and has given her an anchor.  It’s a community that she is a part of and is a place of kindness and acceptance.  As well as giving her opportunities in a supportive and safe environment, it’s stretching her in areas such as creativity and leadership that never seemed possible.”

For more information about the work of Hubbub and ways to support the organisation and book tickets for The Drum at Derby Festé, please visit

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