In Good Company and Derby Theatre presents

Departure Lounge 2024

Published Tuesday 7th May 2024
A summer festival of fresh and exciting performance …now in its 12th year!

Departure Lounge is celebrating its 12th anniversary, on this summer at Derby Theatre from Thursday 11 until Friday 12 July, a fantastic summer festival of fresh and thrilling theatre with a bumper line-up of shows, works-in-progress, workshops, gatherings and a hub for fresh, contemporary, cutting edge and innovative performance. Departure Lounge sees Derby Theatre transformed into a fabulous performance-filled festival site, with shows in many different spaces across the building…so, calling all artists and audiences, why not come and join us this summer?! 

Highlights of the Festival for 2024 include: China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz with Talking About The Fire written and performed by Chris Thorpe, a world premiere of a show about a new nuclear weapons treaty from the team that created the award-winning Status and Confirmation, created by seven-time Fringe First winner Chris Thorpe and Claire O’Reilly (Abbey Theatre) and developed with Tony Award-winning Rachel Chavkin; A Citizens’ Assembly, a new work about the climate crisis by acclaimed theatre maker Andy Smith created in collaboration with applied arts practitioner Lynsey O’Sullivan; Dual دوگانه‎, an Anglo-Iranian darkly comic and award-winning show about passports and protest byPeyvand Sadeghian; Kill The Cop Inside Your Head, a spoken word and performance by artist Subira Joy which explores their experience being targeted by the police as a Black, queer and trans person in the UK; The Lincoln Company and Ollie Smith with Recruit, an irreverent performance experience for a single participant at a time…part-audiovisual, part-interactive, it’s a tongue-in-cheek lesson in bureaucracy that moves around the building – and may just land you your next exciting role / life-changing career opportunity / disappointing dose of reality [delete as appropriate]; Story Chefs by Maison Foo and The Creative Sanctuary Group, a pop-up story kitchen bursting with tales and flavours from around the world co-created with global friends seeking sanctuary, the show uses live cooking, food tasting and storytelling to share and celebrate unheard refugee voices; Altered Skin with When We See Ourselves, a story of two different people who meet by chance and fall in love is very familiar, but when those differences include ethnicity, things can get complicated and Variable Matter with World Kiosk, a street kiosk disrupting the fabric of everyday life, an intimate and enchanting digital sound and light installation where communities collide….plus much more!

On the Friday of the festival, we will see the return of the ever-popular Industry Panel Discussion which, for this year, will focus on Art as Activism. Practitioners, artists and audiences come together for a fascinating and insightful discussion with leaders from a range of inspirational arts organisations in the UK. Chairing the discussion will be British theatre critic, writer and journalist Lyn Gardner. The panel of provocateurs will include: Sarah Brigham (Artistic Director and CEO, Derby Theatre) – plus, we are delighted to welcome for this year:

Selina Thompson – an artist and writer whose work has been shown and praised internationally. Her practice is chiefly concerned with grief, love, and the world to come, and she seeks to make work that is visually striking, and lyrical, even while grounded in politics. She has led the company since its inception in 2016, and is primarily concerned with it centering those historically excluded by the arts, without compromising on rigour or experimentation. She won the ISPA Distinguished artist award in 2023, and her credits, include theatres across the UK, Europe, South and North America and Australia.

Chris Sonnex – a respected figure in the theatre industry, known for his dedication to promoting inclusivity and empowering underrepresented artists. As the former Artistic Director of the Bunker Theatre (2018-2020), he championed diversity by programming works predominantly by women. He also established innovative partnerships to engage new audiences. Previously, he worked with the Royal Court and contributed significantly during the refugee crisis in Calais. Sonnex’s directorial work received acclaim in various prestigious venues. In September 2021, he became the Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Cardboard Citizens, continuing his impactful career in theatre.

Julie Hesmondhalgh – Accrington-born, Manchester-based actor and activist. Best known for her theatre work at the Royal Exchange (Wit, Mother Courage, Black Roses) and her roles in TV (Hayley in Corrie, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Cucumber, Mr Bates vs the Post Office) she also co-runs a political theatre collective, Take Back, the fundraising group 500 Acts of Kindness and is a patron and supporter of many organisations including Reuben’s Retreat, Arts Emergency and Frantic Assembly’s Ignite. She is the author of A Working Diary and most recently, An Actor’s Alphabet: An A-Z of Stuff I’ve Learnt and Stuff I’m Still Learning. 

Cheryl Martin – Artistic Director at Red Ladder Theatre in Leeds. A former Associate Director, New Writing/New Work at Manchester’s Contact Theatre, she co-founded Black Gold Arts [winner Best Event, 2024 Manchester Culture Awards] to showcase Global Majority & LGBTQ+ artists.  Cheryl’s solo show Alaska featured in 2016’s A Nation’s Theatre, & 2019’s Summerhall Edinburgh Fringe & London’s Wellcome Festival of Minds and Bodies, focussing on her experiences of psychiatric disabilities. She directed The Walk: A Sleeping Child for 2021’s Manchester International Festival, launching the journey refugee child giant puppet Little Amal.  And she directed This Town by Rory Aaron, Contact Theatre & Derby Playhouse 2023, about working-class friends in Derby, which won a 2024 Edinburgh Fringe Pleasance award. Her first Red Ladder show, Sanctuary, about a failed asylum seeker, will tour nationally in autumn 2024.   

The Industry Panel Discussion is FREE, and always a very popular highlight of the Festival, so early booking is highly recommended.


Part of Earlybird Festival Pass

Book 3 or more festival shows in one transaction by 31 May and get 30% OFF your total booking.

See individual show pages for qualifying shows. (Offer not available on workshops or free events)


For the FULL Departure Lounge festival line-up, more information, prices and how to book, please contact the Box Office on 01332 593939 or visit Departure Lounge 2024 – Derby Theatre.

Book your tickets for Departure Lounge 2024...

Book Now...