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Entering our fifteenth anniversary year as the New Wolsey Theatre, our productions have been an eclectic mix of new work and revivals all bearing our distinctive New Wolsey Theatre hallmark. The year started with the world premiere of Feed The Beast by Steve Thompson, a contemporary play about politics and power co-produced with Birmingham Rep. In the autumn we gave Sweet Charity an actor-musician makeover followed by our first brand new “Rock ’n’ Roll Panto” for many years, The Sword in the Stone. Spring began our birthday year by reviving Jason Robert Brown’s unique chamber musical, The Last Five Years. We would like to thank all the casts, crews and creative teams who have worked on these projects with such energy and dedication, our funding bodies for their continued support, and particularly our audiences for their enthusiastic embrace of our varied, accessible and challenging programme. Peter Rowe & Sarah Holmes Artistic Director & Chief Executive I am very pleased to be able to introduce this report for the year 2015-16. The Board of Trustees have been extremely pleased and impressed with the overall direction of the New Wolsey Theatre and its outcomes both financially and artistically. Audiences continue to be strong and involved and the theatre has a strong and recognisable identity. The Board were particularly struck by the commitment of the staff to its diversity ambitions and the invaluable outreach activity. In difficult and troubling times for the arts, the New Wolsey manages to combine a great artistic programme which attracts healthy committed audiences with a distinctive regional mission which strongly enhances the cultural infrastructure of the local community. Richard Lister Chairman of the Board of Directors


Photography throughout by Mike Kwasniak, David Sandison, Patrick Baldwin, Alex Brenner, Vincent Beaume, Richard Davenport and Robert Day.

2015-16 AT A GLANCE


hours worked by our volunteers


earned income

of our bookings are now online

ticket income per hour we are open

average amount donated per booking

funding / ÂŁ11.32 per head


taken at the box office

tickets sold

average ticket price

tickets sold to young people

furthest round trip to see panto

households made panto their first ever theatre visit

people attended the panto

tickets donated to local charities, community groups and volunteers funding

tickets for people with disabilities

earned income


// Stephen Foster



// Andrew Clarke (on Sweet Charity)

This is a show which exudes stylish sense class from beginning to end. Birtill’s portrayal of Charity Valentine is an effervescent ball of light which floats through the show and sends you home with a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.”


// Glen Pearce (on Feed the Beast)

Feed The Beast gives us a witty and insightful insight into the battles inside our political and media institutions. Our politicians may now shy away from ever being this honest and it’s unlikely we’ll ever know how accurate a representation this is but as a piece of entertainment it’s certainly a vote winner.”


// Simon Sladen (on The Sword in the Stone)

Rowe effortlessly turns the well-known legend into a two-hour pantomime full of musical mayhem… A magical production full of toe-tapping hits, The Sword in the Stone is a welcome addition to not only the New Wolsey, but to Pantoland’s ever growing portfolio of titles.”


// Hedley Swain

It is hard to believe that New Wolsey Theatre is only celebrating its 15th anniversary. Led by the Sarah Holmes, the team has made New Wolsey so much more than ‘just’ a theatre. It is a friendly and welcoming place, something that is so essential to encourage new audiences to experience their work. It is also a centre of support for a wide range of artists and a champion of exciting new work, particularly through the Pulse Festival. More recently New Wolsey has been a driving force for giving audiences greater access to theatres, working with a consortium of organisations and artists across the country to increase opportunities for disabled artists in mainstream theatre. I look forward to seeing them continue this work and affect change for both artists and audiences on a local, regional and national level.”


// Jo Fletcher-Cross (on The Last Five Years)

The New Wolsey is almost the perfect space for The Last Five Years; it’s surprisingly intimate for a 400-seater, while giving the show room to breathe. Excellent direction from Peter Rowe and movement direction from Francesca Jaynes keep the action clear and dynamic... a top-class production, with outstanding performances which bring out the absolute best in it.”

MADE IN IPSWICH Recognised nationally for the quality of our productions, 2015-16 saw us embark on 3 productions in our signature actor-musician style and a major collaboration with The Birmingham Rep.

FEED THE BEAST Wed 6 to Sat 16 May Feed The Beast was a fiercely funny look at the rocky relations between our press and politicians in a world of spin doctors and Leveson Inquiries, from the award-winning writer of Damages, Whipping It Up, Roaring Trade and the highly acclaimed BBC programmes, Sherlock and Dr Who.


THE SWORD IN THE STONE Thu 26 Nov to Sat 30 Jan A BRAND NEW ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PANTO Written by Peter Rowe, and performed in the New Wolsey’s traditional actormusician style, this brand new take on the legendary tale of King Arthur mixed music, magic, swordplay and slapstick into a wicked festive brew with a classic rock ‘n’ roll kick.



Thu 3 to Sat 26 Sept

Thu 25 Feb to Fri 11 Mar

The New Wolsey Theatre proudly presented a new actor-musician production of this classic swingin’ 60s, award-winning Broadway comedy. With brassy, toe tapping hits including Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, The Rhythm of Life and I’m a Brass Band, you wouldn’t have wanted to miss this story of a girl who just wants to be loved.

A musical romantic comedy that tugged at your heartstrings. Recently a major motion picture, The Last Five Years is an award-winning musical from Jason Robert Brown. Starting and ending with the beginning of a passionate love affair, the unique style of storytelling and infectious score makes this one of America’s best modern musicals.






PULSE Festival Ipswich is a part curated part open application 10 day festival focusing on new and innovative approaches, offering a bright and inspiring snapshot of contemporary theatre and performance. Over a period of 10 days, the work of regional, national and international companies and artists, many of whom are emerging, was showcased. Performances took place in a range of venues, including the studio-scale performance space at New Wolsey’s main house, the Studio, the HEG and DanceEast. The festival continued to present a broad mix of theatre, curated for 2015 by China Plate and the New Wolsey Programming Team, with a particular focus on pieces created by regional artists. The Suitcase Prize was offered to the company presenting the best piece of theatre that could be toured on public transport. The festival also saw the return of Scratch Day, a chance for companies to present ‘works in progress’ and Children and Young People’s Day, a day dedicated not only to work for younger audiences, but also work made and presented by young people.

increase on FY14 revenue


PULSE PRESENTS Pulse Presents continued the spirit of the PULSE Festival throughout the Autumn and Spring with a strand of programming in the Studio of emerging and new companies. Pulse Presents continues to be a major platform to profile work at the edges of the New Wolsey’s offer, and to give those theatre makers the opportunity to cross into the mid-scale and mainstream.

ASSOCIATE COMPANIES Ipswich is at the heart of arts and culture in the East of England, and the New Wolsey Theatre recognises this by acting as a hub for excellence. We are proud to work with so many creative companies and individuals. In 2015, we formalised arrangements with a number of artists, signalling the value we place on collaboration and partnership. GECKO / FROZEN LIGHT / METIS / FINGERSMITHS / LOUISE MARI AND NIGEL BARRETT At the core of these partnerships is a mutual respect for the quality of each artists work and the intention to continue to work closely together to develop our work and organisations. The New Wolsey Theatre provides these companies with a range of in-kind services including office space, professional advice, marketing support and financial services. 2015 also saw The New Wolsey Theatre provided 14 new and emerging artists and companies with residencies. Paulette Randall, Ed Collier and Paul Warwick (China Plate) and Zoe Svensden continued their work with New Wolsey as Associate Artists throughout 2015.



The Secret Adversary


Blood Wedding

Steemy Dan: Reelin’ In The Years


An Audience with Diane Abbott

Jonny & The Baptists

The Disappearance of Dorothy Lawrence

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra

Macbeth: Blood Will Have Blood

Showstopper: The Improvised Musical

The Magnificent Music Hall

The Business Of Murder

The Edge

Room On The Broom

Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense

Comedy Club 4 Kids

Flare Path

Circles in the Sand

Picadilly Dance Orchestra


Jo Harman Bangalore Dreams Si Cranstoun: Good Rockin’ Tonight The Silver Sword Beryl Absent Friends Mr Tiger Goes Wild Me and My Cat Jo and Billie’s Tour De France Circus Oddity Comedy Club 4 Kids Shhh! The Paper Dolls


SPRING 2016 A Raisin In The Sun Shadowlands Contained Big Girls Blouse Showstopper: The Improvised Musical Backstage In Biscuit Land The James Hunter Six Justin & The Argonauts Chinese New Year: Year of the Monkey A Viennese Strauss Gala Duke’s Comedy Club The Jive Aces Richard Durrant: The Guitar Whisperer Handa’s Hen Shh… Bang! Tom Thumb Flatpack The Mighty Prince and Other Fabulous Fables Orion and the Dark Comedy Club 4 Kids Kite

CREATIVE LEARNING Junior Youth Theatre

New Wolsey’s Creative Learning strand continued to offer a variety of work presented by the New Wolsey Youth Theatre, Young Company, Young Associates and by professional actors in school and community settings, as well as at the New Wolsey Studio.

sessions for 55 participants Senior Youth Theatre

Births, Deaths and Marriages toured nationally to 13 venues as part of the Young Theatre Makers project, at Pulse 2015 and 25 performances at the Edinburgh Fringe where it collected four 4-star reviews and was nominated for the Holden Street Theatres Edinburgh Award.

sessions for 82 members Youth Theatre Squared

sessions for 25 members

YOUTH THEATRE Through the Looking Glass By Lewis Carroll

Young Company

YOUNG COMPANY The Crucible By Arthur Miller

sessions for 33 members

YOUNG COMPANY Turn of the Screw By Henry James

Young Associates


YOUNG ASSOCIATES Births, Deaths & Marriages Devised by the company


PRIMARY SCHOOLS TOUR Alfie Strange: Trained Time Travellers Only By Rob Salmon & devised with the company

sessions for young children and their families

SECONDARY SCHOOLS TOUR Frequently Asked Questions Originally devised by Rob Salmon & People You May Know


PARTICIPATION Every week we ran a variety of workshops in schools which enabled children and young people to explore their lives and the world around them through imaginative play and creative expression. Our workshops promoted the development of interpersonal, presentation and employability skills, as well as aspirations and attitudes to learning, and young people were given the chance to find out about routes into the creative industries. Our schools touring productions enabled students to reflect on their own lives, specifically values in primaries, and expectations around adult life in secondaries.

Creative Learning Lounge events for 39 teachers

opportunities for learning and participation

Suffolk schools engaged

RAISING THE BAR: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: The New Wolsey Creative Learning team worked with 3 Ipswich primary schools to develop children’s literacy in school years 4-6, through 8 theatre making sessions based around language and vocabulary. The project also promoted parental engagement with learning, with parents observing sessions. Project evaluation has shown a significant improvement in literacy, better attitudes in going to school, and development of confidence and creative skills.

RAISING ASPIRATIONS: BIG LOTTERY FUND Our Big Lottery funded Raising Aspirations project took place in early 2016, visiting 16 educational settings to deliver energetic workshops to year 9 students. We promoted self-belief and empowered students to be the motivators and decision makers of their own lives, challenging them to be proactive, recognise their achievements and be positive about the direction of their futures.

schools workshops for 4,563 participants

miles covered delivering workshops to schools

young people saw schools touring productions

THEATRE FOR EVERYONE performances had at least one access service

wheelchair accessible positions

tickets sold to disabled people

tickets sold to Audio Description users

tickets sold to Captioning users

tickets sold to BSL users

A commitment to equality and diversity in its broadest sense is embedded into the fabric of the New Wolsey Theatre. We continue to work with organisations, as well as members of Ipswich’s own diverse community, to develop and bring to the theatre the voices and experiences of a range of backgrounds and cultures. We have continued to work towards breaking new ground for arts and disability both within the region and nationally, to challenge public attitudes and increase the number of D/deaf and disabled people in our audiences, on the stage and taking in part in participation opportunities. New Wolsey has actively encouraged touring companies to increase the accessibility of their work and have programmed work with a disability focus and embedded accessibility. Our work to increase the representation of D/deaf and disabled people within all aspects of our work has begun to pay off, particularly in terms of our audience, with a 32% increase in D/deaf and disabled individuals engaging with our accessible performances. The installation of the Bradbury Platform and new accessible seating, funded generously by the Bradbury Foundation, has enabled us to develop our relationships with local groups and schools. Due to an underspend on the grant offered, the foundation allowed the remaining funds to be used to offer subsidised tickets to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, allowing us to increase our reach to minority communities and encourage them to engage with the theatre’s work. In 2015-16 we have increased the amount of accessible performances offered, which has translated into an increase in individuals utilising these services, through concerted promotional and engagement efforts.


OPEN SEASON The Open Season provides access to our venues, facilities and resources for the amateur and community sector in the local area. It’s their chance to display their achievements in a professional environment, celebrate their identity and showcase their talents.


The season includes performances of small scale drama in the New Wolsey Studio, runs of performances of major musicals in the New Wolsey Theatre with our schools festival, charity and community focused events, and performances from the New Wolsey Young Company in between. Shakespeare in Suffolk Black and White Productions Suffolk Soul Singers Hercules: A Dance Cabaret New Art Club co-produced with Dance4 and Nottingham Playhouse Clare Teal Fleece Jazz as part of Ipswich Jazz Festival The Drowsy Chaperone Appeal Theatre Group Bothered and Bewildered Kesgrave Amateur Theatre Society



Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore Come & Sing Mystery at the Museum Youth Perform 2015 Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me Horizon Theatre Hairspray The Gallery Players Bridging the Gap Magma Dance The Phantom of the Opera The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company Through the Magnifying Glass Unscene Suffolk Westside Story The Children’s Theatre Company Big Ideas 7: Write About Now New Wolsey Young Company and New Wolsey Youth Theatre with Danusia Iwaszko


Ramps on the Moon is a ground-breaking touring project that began a step change in disability arts provision in the UK and reframed the way theatre by and for disabled people is made and seen. The six year project has received a total of £2.3m to fund the first 3 years of the project. Ramps on the Moon has brought together a collaborative network of seven national portfolio organisation theatres including New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and strategic partner Graeae Theatre - Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres. The network, which spans the country, includes theatres that are committed to offering opportunities to disabled people by putting disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their programmes, to help the mainstreaming of disability arts and culture. Disabled people are at the heart of the project – artists will be integrated into casts in a variety of ways such as using sign language, screen projections and live audio descriptions – and organisations will reach out to and develop disabled audiences in each area and beyond. Ramps on the Moon has been recognised as an exciting example of the arts sector taking a lead in prioritising investment, training and development for disabled artists and audiences.





We gratefully acknowledge the continued support from of the Wolsey Theatre Club.

TRUSTS & FOUNDATIONS The New Wolsey Theatre gratefully receives funding from a number of trusts and foundations to help keep important projects going that benefit the communities we meet off stage as well as on.




RAISING ASPIRATIONS 16 highly engaging workshops, empowering young people to be positive about their futures.

RAISING THE BAR FUND Primary school drama club projects with a focus on vocabulary and parental engagement.

Primary school drama club projects with a focus on vocabulary and parental engagement.

Building improvements.

PULSE FESTIVAL 2015 Artists Development workshops, and to facilitate networking opportunities for companies taking part in the festival.

THE BRADBURY PLATFORM Bradbury Foundation A platform especially designed for us to add more wheelchair accessible spaces in the first two rows of the main auditorium, creating more access to the theatre for everyone and ticket subsidy to support new audiences to use this facility.

AGENT FOR CHANGE Roles in our workforce dedicated to developing D/deaf and disabled audiences.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Secondary Schools Tour 2015 The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust, Scarfe Charitable Trust, The Steel Charitable Trust, The Backstage Trust.

ALFIE STRANGE Primary Schools Tour 2016 Scarfe Charitable Trust, The Ganzoni Charitable Trust.

New Wolsey Annual Review 2015-16  

Welcome to our Annual Review for 2015-16. Inside you will find our sales and fundraising statistic for that financial year, as well as a ful...

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