Offstage Insights: Head of Creative Learning

Introducing David Whitney, Head of Creative Learning here at Theatre Royal.


How long have you worked in the theatre industry?

11 years.


How long have you worked at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds?

2.5 years as an Associate Artist (2015-2018), 8 months as a freelancer ( Oct 2021- May 2022), and 12 months in my current role ( June 2022 – current).


What is your role in the theatre?

Head of Creative Learning.


What are your main responsibilities?

Creating and delivering programmes for those in and out of formal education and for community groups.


How did you get into this role?

I trained and worked as an actor in London. Gradually, I started to direct more and enjoyed particularly working with younger people and vulnerable members of the community and seeing the impact theatre could have.


Do you remember what applying for your job felt like?

Not particularly – it was an odd one as I was applying for a job at a venue I had already worked at, not something I had intended to do. However, with the experience I had accrued whilst doing other work away from the venue, I felt I had all the skills to become a Head of Department.


What’s your favourite part about your job?

I love being in a room with participants and creating work that represents them. I love creating spaces that are inclusive, safe and where anyone can be who they want to be.


How many people are in your team?

Two people in the core team – Emma Thorpe (Young People’s Producer) and Lucinda Meredith (Community Engagement Producer). I then also manage a team of around 10 freelancers.


What is your top tip/s for someone looking to get into your role?

You have to love working with and for a community. Young people’s ideas have to excite you. You need to be a good listener and not lead with ego.


Do you need any qualifications to get into this role? If so, what would you suggest?

I think you need a relevant/transferable qualification or an academic certificate/industry-specific training scheme or evidence of continued professional development to do this role. I have a degree which has helped me hugely. I think if you have some form of qualification it demonstrates your dedication and depth of understanding about the sector you want to work in.


What has been your favourite production at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds?

My favourite production would be Kes in 2016. It was the first production I directed where I truly began to understand my craft and working with young people, it was a very special production.


What is your favourite theatre phrase/word? E.g. proscenium, upstage, rig…

Kabuki Drop –  swift and sudden reveal, using drapes or curtains that drop to the floor exposing hidden elements for the audience to see on stage.


And finally, what is your favourite Theatre Royal photo?

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