Red Rose Chain is an independent theatre company based at The Avenue Theatre in Ipswich, delivering a vibrant professional and community programme. For over 20 years, we have put inclusion and accessibility at the centre of our work, providing a needed refuge and giving a voice to the marginalised through high quality arts activities and volunteering opportunities.
Since Artistic Director Joanna Carrick formed the company in 1990, Red Rose Chain has been a beacon in the community for those needing a place to belong. Over the years, we have worked with remarkable groups of people on theatre and film projects, changing the lives of drug-addicts, women involved with street prostitution, prisoners and young offenders, disadvantaged young people and adults with disabilities and mental health diagnoses. We’ve also produced critically acclaimed shows that we have taken us across Suffolk and beyond, including a residency at the Tower of London with Joanna Carrick’s celebrated Tudor play FALLEN IN LOVE.
In 2015, we opened our beautiful, purpose built theatre, The Avenue, in the grounds our HQ Gippeswyk Hall. At The Avenue Theatre, we produce exciting, innovative and accessible productions. From classic comedies to reimagining tradition stories at Christmas, there really is something for everyone!
Each summer, we welcome over 8,000 people to Theatre in the Forest, our acclaimed outdoor Shakespeare event. Our Theatre in the Forest shows are known for being an accessible way into Shakespeare for all the family, with refreshing interpretations, amazing designs and quirky characters that bring audiences right into the action! Theatre in the Forest begins its new chapter in 2022, moving from Jimmy’s Farm back to its roots with a beautiful new venue at Sutton Hoo!
Each week at The Avenue, over 50 participants work with professional artists, inspiring each other in creative equality in our Community programme that is supported by The National Lottery Community Fund. All our work is recruited on a “no fees, no audition” basis to keep our programme as inclusive and accessible as possible.
Our community company ‘ACT’, is for adults with disabilities and mental health diagnoses. The group was originally formed in 2007, working with women from the Iceni Project to create their play ‘I Love Kit Kats’. Since then, the group has grown in its size and diversity, creating powerful work with their voices as disabled, under-represented creatives challenging how society views those who are different.
Our inclusive youth theatre, The Chainers, works with disadvantaged and disabled young people at the highest artistic level. We provide a safe and nurturing environment where they gain skills and confidence through performance and volunteering opportunities, empowering many to engage with further education and arts training. Our Youth Theatre Alumni include ‘Top Boy’ director Aneil Karia, Emmy nominated musician Isabella Summers and director of world leading design studio 59 Productions Mark Grimmer.
Our Gold Chainers Youth Theatre is a remarkable group of young artists with learning difficulties. This work drives innovation in accessible theatre by empowering them to take the lead creatively. Their new sensory play The Nightingale, funded by Arts Council England, challenges the restrictive ways in which they are often viewed by society.
We work in outreach partnership with children’s centres in deprived communities, introducing families and under 5’s to theatre. We also run a pioneering rehabilitation project at HMP Warren Hill with life sentence prisoners, nurturing their creativity in playwriting projects that bring their diverse and unheard voices into our community.