Based in rural Derbyshire but working nationally as well as regionally, Ava Hunt Theatre is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with a commitment to creating stimulating, high quality theatre and workshops for community audiences and young people.
A mainly women-led organisation, Ava Hunt Theatre aims to deliver artistically ambitious projects in areas of social deprivation, spark debate and give a voice to those who may not otherwise be heard. Ava herself has been a professional actor for over 30 years and is also a senior lecturer in Theatre Arts at the University of Derby.
Diversity is at the heart of the company’s work in relation to the stories we tell and the artists we employ as well as the audiences and participants we work with. We will continue take a proactive stand in the fight against racism, inequality and discrimination.
Our track record
Working closely with commissioning bodies and key stake holders is central to the company’s success. Recent partners have included: Derbyshire County Council Education Improvement Services, SACRE, Amnesty International (Wirksworth), Derby Refugee & Advice Centre, QUAD, and City of Sanctuary Derby.
Recent projects include: Journeys of Destiny; The Kites Are Flying, based on Michael Morpurgo’s book; and Acting Alone, based on Ava’s own research in Palestinian refugee camps and is largely based on their verbatim stories. This piece toured nationally and internationally, including appearances at the Just Human Rights Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Verbatim work has been an important element of the Theatre’s work since 2009, starting with I’m No Hero and recording Irena Sendler’s story from interviews. Using this technique gives an authentic voice to marginalised people, telling untold narratives or, as David Hare said in 2004, ‘giving voice to the voiceless’.
Counter narratives to the mainstream remain important to the company’s work. The use of verbatim and autobiographical approaches provides audiences with unique and credible insights that may otherwise go unheard.
In December 2020, Applied Theatre Podcast (@AppTheatrePod) released a podcast with Ava, discussing 10 years of working with Verbatim Refugee stories, Forum Theatre and her role as course leader for MA Applied Theatre at the University of Derby. This can be viewed here:
Funding and supporters
Much of our work is funded by Arts Council England on a project-by-project basis, as well as by a number of other organisations, and we work closely with a wide range of associate artists including: Dr Tilly Branson, Maggie Ford, Kitty Parker, Frances Watt, Kitty Winter, Maxine Finch, Duanne Hannibal, Sarah Bradnock, Becky Matter, Terry Heywood, Suki Sidhu, Yildiz Hussein, Andy Purves and Karim Hadaya.
Another key focus of Ava Hunt Theatre is supporting young and graduating artists to develop their skills and gain practical experience on a range of projects.
All our artists are fully DBS checked. They also receive training in line with the company’s Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults policy.