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About the Creative team

Creative Team

A group of ten young people are working with creative mentors, storyteller Maria Whatton, astronomer Nick Spall and project producer Jan Reynolds to devise the Stars and Stories performance together.  Rehearsal sessions are a mixture of original ideas and creative devising, in which the spark of everybody’s ideas and inspiration are shaped into a performance which audiences can enjoy.

Elements coming together in the show include:

  • Original stories, created and performed by the young people
  • Traditional stories about star constellations
  • Historical stories about leading astronomers and moments of realisation
  • Scientific stories about the universe told through movement and words
  • Musical moments reflecting the stories and supporting the performance

Members of the creative team include:

Storyteller Maria Whatton (Artistic Director)

Maria lives in East Staffordshire and is a full time professional fiction writer and storyteller. Having spent eight years creating and directing performances with young people at Ingestre Hall Arts Centre, Maria has been lecturing, touring and working on varied writing and storytelling residencies. Her passion for the power of stories was inspired by her Irish dad who told her myths, legends and fairy tales as a child.

Musician Julian Butt (Creative Mentor)

Julian lives in Derbyshire and is an experienced project manager and musician. He is one of the co-directors of Baby People and also works with a range of groups independently. He previously ran the Fleet Arts musical project Turn it Up for 8 years, across rural Derbyshire and has been working with the creative mentor team through Derbyshire Virtual School for the past 6 years.  He has toured nationally and internationally and has had music played on BBC radio and composed music for touring theatre productions.

Artist Carol Harries-Wood (Mentor and Enabler)

Carol lives in Derbyshire and has been working as a creative mentor to young people through Derbyshire Virtual School for the past 5 years.   Carol has been privileged to see young people achieving their aspirations and then passing on what they have learned to other young people.

Artist Christine Hayward (Creative Mentor)

Christine lives in Nottingham, worked in theatre for over 20 years and is now a visual artist maker. She has worked with Derbyshire Virtual School as a Creative Mentor with young people in care, since the inception of the programme. She is also a founder member of The Amber Factory, which nurtures creativity, and provides opportunities for young people in care to connect with cultural organisations across the East Midlands.

Artist Wendy Johnson (Creative Mentor)

Wendy lives in Derbyshire and is a visual artist and creative mentor working with Derbyshire Virtual School. She is also a founding member of The Amber Factory.

Jan Reynolds (Project Producer)

Jan lives in Derbyshire and has been a project manager and cultural animateur for over thirty years, working with a wide range of organisations and community groups across Derbyshire and the East Midlands.