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Accessible Theatre in East Anglia

9 May 2018 | Eilish Mullane

In recent years, the theatre industry has become increasingly interested in how to improve the reach and accessibility of the platform. East Anglia, although still developing its theatrical standing, is demonstrating how smaller companies, as well as larger theatres can advocate for inclusion, and work to make performances available to all.

The New Wolsey Theatre
The New Wolsey’s key objectives focus on accessibility and opportunity. This 400-capacity theatre is accessible from ground-level for wheelchair users, and there are frequent audio described and signed performances. The theatre is home to ‘Ramps on The Moon’, a collaborative organisation dedicated to the ‘inclusion and integration’ of deaf and disabled actors and creators into mainstream theatre. The work they produce features both disabled and non-disabled actors, with the intention of promoting discussion and positive social change, covering all genres. They are currently running productions of Our Country’s Good, having produced The Who’s Tommy last year.


Image Credit: The New Wolsey Theatre

The New Wolsey Theatre is located at Civic Drive, Ipswich, IP1 2AS

The Theatre Royal
Another larger theatre, The Theatre Royal puts great focus on accessibility in both their main theatre and smaller studio space, Stage Two. Both spaces are accessible from the ground floor, with the Stage Two space welcoming guide and emotional support animals. Both spaces have Audio Description capabilities, and Stage Two offers opportunities for young people to take part in a course to learn the basics of audio description as well as describe a live show, to engage the next generation of theatre staff and demonstrate the importance of this skill.


Image Credit: Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal is located at Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RL.

Red Rose Chain Theatre Company
Red Rose Chain theatre company at The Avenue Theatre are dedicated to creating work for and with disadvantaged and marginalised people. Their programme of free workshops for those looking to become involved in theatre, targeted specifically at disabled youths and those from disadvantaged backgrounds create a safe and positive space in which to explore creatively. They also partner with mental health charities to bring workshops to the local community and engage with those who are suffering from dementia. Their main theatre space is on ground level, and their Summer productions of ‘Theatre In The Forest’ are made accessible in advance for wheelchair users.


Image Credit: Red Rose Chain Theatre Company

You can find Red Rose Chain at 29 Gippeswyk Avenue, Ipswich, IP1 9AF

Thalia Theatre Company
This company aims to provide arts-related learning for the disabled with ‘physical and sensory impairment’ as well as ‘learning difficulties’ - however they are not an exclusive company. They aim to present one major show to a paid audience per year, and the rest of their time is dedicated to a three-strand approach to their work; skill development, outreach and community engagement, and professional development.


Image Credit: Thalia Company

Thalia Theatre Company is located at Magdalen Street, Norwich, NR3 1AA

Actability
Last but certainly not least is Actability. This company has been running since 2005, touring ‘inclusive, participatory theatre’ throughout the East of England. With dedicated programmes running in schools, such as their ‘Inclusion Drama Project’- promoting positive images of those with learning disabilities - this company continues to show their dedication to advocacy and inclusion. The company also runs intergenerational projects, encouraging dialogue and creativity between older people and primary school children. They are currently running seven different projects throughout East Anglia, so there are plenty of chances to be involved.

Find out more about Actability.

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