Staff profile

Ava Hunt

Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts and Admissions Tutor


Performing Arts and Theatre


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts

Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre


Derby Theatre



Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts for the Single, Joint Honours Theatre Arts courses, Induction and Admissions Tutor

Joint Honours Subject Lead

Teaching responsibilities

Professional interests

I am a part time senior UOD Lecturer and freelance artist.  I trained as an actor 36 years ago and continue to work professionally in theatre, film, commercials and television. I have also worked as a director and producer setting up Tangere Arts in 2003, as co-Artistic Director.  I have also been co-Artistic Director of Yorkshire Women Theatre and Central Line Touring.   

Funded by the Arts Council England I toured nationally and internationally with a one woman show Acting Alone based on five years of research human rights theatre and verbatim work.  I have taken various shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival over the years receiving 5 star reviews for I'm No Hero and Acting Alone.

I trained with Augusto Boal in Forum Theatre and Rainbow of Desire.  I also worked closely with Dr Dorothy Heathcote over many years delivering work to our students at University of Derby.

I have worked in Applied Theatre in most areas including: nursery and Foundation, Schools, Pupil Referral Units, Young Offenders, Prison, long term unemployed, intergenerational projects and community groups.

My work has won several awards including: 

2006: Winner of the NHS Promoting healthy lifestyles: Diversity and Patients' Choice Award Winner: “Quality of the drama work was dynamic!”

2005 Amber Valley Health Authority & Ava Hunt won Pamela Sheridan Award for SRE Project in Primary Schools - a national award for good practice

“Best Performance” 2001   IVCA Award for “Trials of Barry Simpkin”  

2000 Millennium Fellowship Award: Performance Development with Kneehigh Theatre 

Work regularly for Derby Theatre as a Youth Theatre director, delivering training to Youth Theatre directors for NAYT, Scottish Association of Youth Theatre Directors and working on National Theatre Connections Festivals 2015, 2016. 

2016/7: Funded by the British Council I have recently been developing a new piece of work with Artists in Australia (Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir Theatre, Treehouse Theatre, No Mates Productions) exploring the subject of child refugees.  A Story To Tell was originally commissioned by Amnesty International (Wirksworth, Derbyshire) and performed again 22nd June 2017 as part of National Refugee Week with Derby Refugee Advice Centre using verbatim theatre.

Before going to Drama school I worked for BBC Radio 4 and maintain a particular interest in radio drama.

Research interests

In 2008 I visited Sri Lanka with the University working with young people, and their teachers, using drama as an educative tool in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami, attending a British Council meeting with wide range of professional artists sharing practice.

2009-2010 I created a new one woman show exploring the relationship between film and live performance, using documentary material. I'm No Hero toured venues throughout Nottingham and Derbyshire. Material draws on key historical events during the Holocaust and a contemporary story in Palestine This work has continued and I am currently in receipt of Arts Council funding and University of Derby Research funding to travel to Israel and Palestine

2013 - my research project has included working with schools in Normanton, with my Applied Drama students, using Michael Morporgo's book The Kites Are Flying - travelling to the West Bank and working with theatre companies - The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, and The Alrowwad Centre in Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem, filming and working with children, then performing a new multi-media one woman show based on the book and using footage filmed in the West Bank at Derby Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse.

2014 - based on my research in the West Bank I was approached by Derbyshire Branch of Amnesty International to create a new one woman show called "Acting Alone" which performed as part of the Wirksworth Festival.  Since the summer of 2015 I was awarded an Arts Council grant to re-work "Acting Alone" with has now toured both nationally and internationally and will continue into 2016.  In 2015 I attended and performed Acting Alone at the Politics, Protest and Performance Conference at Cork University and International Applied Theatre conference Performance of Hope at Auckland University.

2016 - Delivering workshops in schools using in-role Mantle of the Expert with young people and teachers in collaboration with Dr Redman in Delhi India

2015-2017 - Continuing to explore the use of autobiographical and verbatim material I have undertaken a period of international travel and research developing ideas for a new piece of theatre with artists in Australia focussing on the themes of young refugees.  This research was funded by British Council.  The material has been piloted with young audiences with Derby Youth Theatre and to audiences as part of National Refugee Week (June 2017). 

2018 I received an Arts Council R & D grant to develop a new piece of theatre for schools using a young Syrian refugee's story - Saad Alkassab called "Journeys of Destiny" this is now in development for a fully funded tour for 2019

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

Presentation at LTA Conference, University of Derby Buxton, July 2008 - Employability and PDPs

I convened a Symposium on Arts in Education at Cast in Doncaster - speakers on the panel included: Sir Paul Edwards (CEO of Schools Partnership Trust), Pat Cockburn (CEO of CAPE), Catherine Howard (Ofsted Inspector) and Nii Sackey (CEO of Bigga Fish. The Symposium was a supporting event for a new production of Barry Hine's "Kes". The Symposium considered "How do we educate the Billy Casper's of 2014?"

2015 - Performance of Acting Alone at Politics, Protest and Performance Conference at University College of Cork

2015 - Performance of Acting Alone at Performance of Hope: International Applied Theatre Conference University of Auckland

2016 - Performance and paper at International Federation Theatre Research in Stockholm.

2016 - Performance and paper on Acting Alone - Education Conference New York

2016 - Performance of Acting Alone at Lincoln University - Political Theatre

2017 - Conference paper on verbatim and participatory theatre at Irish Society of Theatre Research, Nottingham University

2018 - Conference paper on verbatim and The Learning Theatre for ADSA - Melbourne University 

Experience in industry

I have worked as a professional actor, director, programmer and producer for 35 years some of the companies that I have worked with include: Shared Experience, Hull Truck Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse, Half Moon, Language Alive, Tangere Arts, Theatre Centre. As well as my television work including: Coronation StreetHollyoaksEmmerdaleTouch of FrostDangerfieldThe Royal Today, Grown Ups, Heartbeat etc.

My theatre work includes working for: Theatre Centre, Half Moon Young Peoples Theatre, Avon Touring Theatre, Yorkshire Women, Roundabout Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Playhouse, Derby Theatre.  As a Youth Theatre Director I have worked for Shared Experience, Derby Theatre, TV Workshops Nottingham. 

I have created particiaptory drama for young people and community audiences covering subjects including: alcohol misuse, sex and relationships education, HIV/AIDS, refugees, bullying, domestic violence, young carers, knife crime, eating disorders, racism, transition, environmental issues, citizenship and aspiration.

I also work regularly in the business/corporate sector using theatre, drama facilitation and role play

2010-2011 Hull Truck Theatre - Artistic Assistant - responsible for programming main stage and studio space with drama, comedy, music and dance.  Programmed Children's Theatre Festival, Black History Month and worked with a wide range of community groups to engage and increase diversity and cultural inclusion. 

2015 - Cast at Doncaster - Associate Director - responsible for community outreach, new writing rehearsed play readings, programming master classes, and liaising with Arts Council Creative People and Places funded community and theatre engagement programme supporting community cast.

Most recently I have been working in the corporate role play sector working with senior management teams facilitating best practice (2017), and Research and Developing with Melting Shop Theatre on the nationalisation of the mining industry. 

2018 - continue to work as a freelance actor in film and TV (Emmerdale 2018)

International experience

1991-2015 USSR, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Israel, Palestine, Romania, Cork, New Zealand

2016 - Calais (The Jungle) France working with charities researching refugee stories for development with artists in Australia including:

Sydney Theatre Company (Creative Learning), Belvoir Theatre (Nell Runney), Treehouse Theatre working with child refugees and Craig Christie playwrite and musical theatre writer/composer. 

2017 - Dehli India delivering workshops in schools with teachers and young people with Dr Redman on the use of in-role and Heathcote's Mantle of the Expert

2018 - Working with Saad Alkasab in Melbourne Australia recording material to contribute to "Journeys of Destiny"

In the media

I have worked television for 35 years including: Coronation StreetHollyoaksEmmerdaleTouch of FrostDangerfieldThe Royal Today, Grown Ups, Heartbeat, Grange Hill, Casualty etc.

I regularly contribute to a discussion group The Loudmouths on BBC Radio Derby and am regularly asked to comment on social issues including: the representation of older women in film, tv and theatre and refugees in Calais - 2012-2018