A VIBRANT programme of shows – including three productions "made in Derby" – have been planned for the autumn season at Derby Theatre.
Artistic director Sarah Brigham said one of her main priorities has been to develop a reputation for quality, in-house shows – which she sees as essential for securing a strong future for the theatre.
Since taking the reins in January last year, Sarah has already overseen five "made in Derby" productions and three co-productions developed with other high-profile theatre companies.
She said: "We are working to build a strong identity for theatre in the city and we hope the Arts Council will recognise the progress we've made with this when they announce the next round of grants on July 1."
In 2007, the old Derby Playhouse was forced to close following financial difficulties.
The theatre's present financial situation is more stable due to its links with the University of Derby but Sarah said the guarantee of Arts Council funding would enable the theatre to factor it into its planning for 2015.
In terms of this coming autumn, however, Derby Theatre has once again committed to a busy season of shows – many of which will be developed within the city.
Sarah will be directing both of the theatre's own in-house productions – Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and the main festive show, A Christmas Carol.
She said: "I will literally be taking Little Voice on to the stage at the beginning of November and then going straight into rehearsals for A Christmas Carol. It will be a busy time.
"The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is a story many people will know. It is a play with a really big heart and George Dyer – who has been involved with a recent version of Sweeney Todd by the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Manchester – will be arranging the music.
"We are auditioning for it at the moment – it's a tricky task to find just the right actress for the starring role. It has to be someone who can play the high level of fragility the character demands, while also having one hell of a voice!"
Sarah said she will also be looking for 12 talented local children in the run up to the theatre's festive show. She said: "We will be on the lookout for a Tiny Tim, a Martha and some street urchins."
A second festive show for younger children, Hansel and Gretel, is also being co-produced with Red Earth Theatre in December.
And a third production to be rehearsed in the city is planned for September. The Pilot Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East have joined forces with Derby to stage a contemporary version of Antigone. The script has been written by playwright Roy Williams.
Derby Theatre also welcomes top-class touring companies again this autumn, including the return of Birmingham Stage Company with another "horrible" offering – Terry Deary's Horrible Histories Barmy Britain – in October and Bill Kenwright, by special arrangement with Agatha Christie Limited, will present Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee in November.