New Wolsey Theatre

An ambitious producing and receiving theatre

Ipswich, United Kingdom


The New Wolsey Theatre is a regional theatre with a national reputation for the quality, range and reach of its work and for embracing cultural diversity in the widest sense. The theatre is central to the creative life of Suffolk and seeks to expand the horizons of audiences and artists by presenting a programme designed to entertain, enrich and challenge. The watchwords for all work are highest quality, greatest diversity and maximum accessibility. The New Wolsey produces and presents a year-round programme of work for all ages in both the main theatre (400 seats) and the studio (104 seats), combining its own productions with a wide range of visiting theatre, music, comedy, and other performing arts. The theatre is nationally renowned for its producing work both as sole producer and in collaboration with a diverse range of UK and international artists and companies. In recent years it has co-produced with other regional theatre including: Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Nottingham Playhouse, Leeds Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Sheffield Theatres, Northampton and Southampton Theatres and touring companies such as Graeae, Talawa, ETT and Fingersmiths. The theatre has a particular reputation for musical work, often employing actor-musicians. It is increasingly acknowledged as a leading player in the development of new musicals staging the world premieres of It’s A Wonderful Life (2009), 20th Century Boy (2011), Mods & Rox (2012), Midsummer Songs (2014), Oxy & The Morons (2017), Our Blue Heaven (2018) and Grandma Saves the Day! (2019). Our annual actor-musician Rock’n’Roll Pantomime continues to be a record breaking success and is firmly established as an Ipswich institution. In December 2019 we will be remounting our 2018 production of Cinderella at Arts Depot, North London. In 2013, we produced a national tour of the Tim Firth and Madness musical Our House, employing an actor-musician cast. In 2014, we co-produced a fully accessible, actor-musician production of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. In 2017, we lead the national tour of the Ramps on the Moon production of The Who’s Tommy as well as touring the stage version of The Ladykillers. In 2020 our 2018 production of Once will undertake an extensive national tour in collaboration with Adam Spiegel Productions. Our 2018 spring season ended with another new actor-musician musical, Our Blue Heaven, which celebrated Ipswich Town Football Club’s 1978 FA Cup victory, including a cohort of young people from the community, many of which had no previous experience of performing on stage! In spring 2019 this was followed by another Ipswich story and new commission Grandma Saves The Day! The New Wolsey has established a reputation for artist development, and in particular helping to nurture innovative companies and enabling them to produce work designed for middle scale touring. As part of this development programme, the theatre has worked in association with some of the most exciting and emerging companies in the UK and internationally, including in recent years: Fingersmith’s dual language production of Up ‘n’ Under, Romany Theatre Company’s Carmen the Gypsy, Frozen Light’s Isle of Brimsker, Metis’s We Know Not What We May Be, and Ramps on the Moon’s Our Country’s Good. We commissioned small scale work from Dante or Die User Not Found, Rich Rusk Small World, Sophie Woolley Augmented, Invisible Flash The Blind Traveller, Simon Startin Inspiration Porn, Brick Wall Ensemble Henry 5, and Sleepdogs A Million Tiny Glitches. The development of talent is a priority for the New Wolsey and the annual PULSE Festival acts as a springboard for fresh new artistic voices, as well as providing a home for risk-taking and cutting edge performance from more established artists. The festival provides a platform for the development and presentation of new work by regional, British and international artists of vision, and aims to nurture artistic ambition and excellence across a range of art forms. PULSE presents work across a variety of genres from comedy to dance and everything in between, in various forms from tour-ready work to rehearsed readings and works at an advanced stage of development. Alongside its work on stage, the New Wolsey runs an extensive Creative Learning programme using the arts to develop creativity, unlock potential, explore diversity and celebrate identity. We use the productions, artists, skills and resources of the Theatre to increase participants understanding of how theatre works, to develop their own creativity, to broaden their knowledge about a subject or the world around them, or to give them a better understanding about themselves. We apply the techniques we use in a rehearsal room to give participant the opportunity to see what motivates their own behaviour. We deliver a service to schools and colleges, a programme of projects and events for children, young people and the community, and a platform for students, arts educators and teachers to gain new skills and share good practice. We have a prolific out of school offer, and have specialised in theatre made for children and young people that places their artistic voice at the centre of the decision-making, the content and the work. The New Wolsey Theatre has a proven track record of championing disabled led theatre and in 2013 launched ‘Agent for Change’ - an initiative supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to create more engagement and opportunities for deaf and disabled theatre professionals, audience members and participants both at the New Wolsey and with collaborating partners. The theatre is dedicated to providing access for D/deaf and disabled audiences to shows, events and information ensuring that any person with a disability can participate fully. Part of this promise is to provide a programme of BSL (British Sign Language) Interpreted, Audio Described, and Captioned performances. As a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity, we rely on a blend of income streams, funding from the Arts Council, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council as well as donations, individual giving and corporate support, all of which are invaluable. Our mission statement and further information can be found on our website. The Ramps On The Moon Project Following on from the highly successful production of The Threepenny Opera part of the Agent for Change project, in Spring 2014, and in recognition of the under representation and employment of disabled people throughout our industry, particularly in “mainstream” theatre, a consortium of theatres successfully applied for a Strategic Touring Fund to undertake a seven year programme of work. Integrating disabled and non-disabled performers and practitioners, this programme aims to achieve a step change in the employment and artistic opportunities for disabled performers and creative teams, and a cultural change in the six participating theatres from around the country to enable accessibility to become a central part of their thinking and aesthetics. Ramps On The Moon was recognised at the 2017 UK Theatre awards and won the Promotion Of Diversity award. The Government Inspector was the first Ramps On The Moon touring show, produced by the Birmingham Rep in Spring 2016. The Who’s Tommy was the was the second Ramps On The Moon touring show, produced by the New Wolsey Theatre in Spring 2017. It subsequently won the UK Theatre award for Best Touring Production at the 2017 UK Theatre awards. Our Country’s Good was the third touring production made in association with the Ramps on the Moon Project, produced by Nottingham Playhouse, which toured in Spring 2018. In Autumn 2019 Graeae – a strategic partner will create and tour to a variety of venues Winsome Pinnocks One Under. The next full Ramps on the Moon production will be in spring 2020 when Leeds Playhouse produce and tour a production of Oliver Twist, newly commissioned from Bryony Lavery.

People who have worked with New Wolsey Theatre