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Red Rose Chain in lockdown

Red Rose Chain in Lockdown

Since March 2020, we have continued our theatre and community programme throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with online drama workshops, activities and resources, as well as producing new and exciting digital theatre productions.

Our digital content has reached over 20,000 people and raised vital funds for our community and theatre programme to survive the pandemic. We are proud to provide a creative lifeline to our community during this difficult time, which has been recognised with a BBC Radio Suffolk Make a Difference Award.

Here’s just a snapshot of Red Rose Chain’s lockdown story!

Our green screen online productions

We have continued to produce new and exciting production for our audiences with our innovative green screen digital productions! 

We work with our incredible actors who film on green screens in their own homes. We send them everything from studio lights to costumes and props – and often you have to make multiple props if actors are passing items to each other! The actors film their scenes using their own phones with director Joanna Carrick and the other actors live on zoom. Our brilliant editor David Newborn then brings the footage together with our beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds created by our designer Katy Frost. 

Jack and the Beanstalk
An online mini series for families and children under 5
Written and directed by Joanna Carrick

In June, we released JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, our very first green screen lockdown film!

We created JACK AND THE BEANSTALK as part of our early years project that works with Children Centres across Ipswich, introducing families to theatre. The two episodes feature all the favourite characters from the original play, including Brian the Giant and Bruce the Goose! With lots of songs and dances, plus an activity pack created by young people from the Chainers Youth Theatre, the films have been enjoyed by over 1,000 children over lockdown!

Theatre in the Forest at Home 2020
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Directed by Joanna Carrick

Our much loved annual summer Shakespeare event happened with a difference in Summer 2020 with THEATRE IN THE FOREST AT HOME!

Over 5,000 of you joined us for our special live stream of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT on August 1st, raising over £20,000 to secure the future of our incredible community programme at Red Rose Chain!

This wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of Richard Croft and our amazing sponsors M7 Real Estate, Birketts and Shout About Suffolk.

Alice in Wonderland 
Adapted and Directed by Joanna Carrick

Our Christmas production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND was watched by over 4,000 people at Christmas, raising an incredible £10,000 towards our community programme – with many of these participants volunteering on the production! 

We released ALICE IN WONDERLAND for free in January 2021 with an activity pack to support families and schools with home learning. We are delighted that we have been able to reach a further 4,000 people in this difficult period brought by a new national lockdown. 

Thank you to our amazing sponsors Birketts and M7 Real Estate who enabled this project

Normal Times
Written by Leanne Baines. Directed by Joanna Carrick

NORMAL TIMES is a powerful new play written by Leanne Baines, who is a member of our community company ACT, that draws on her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic as a mother of her disabled son, Mark. It explores parallels to the fear and persecution of people who were different during the 17th Century witch hunts led by Matthew Hopkins.

Created entirely in lockdown, the film has been directed by Joanna Carrick, with actors Ricky Oakley and Victoria Gee filming on green-screens in their own homes. NORMAL TIMES premiered online in May, with an incredible response from audiences to the piece and the issues it raises. It is now available to watch for free on YouTube.

Rose Garden – Community Art Project

In April 2020, we asked all our community groups, audiences and supporters to join in with our red rose art project to bring us all together while we were apart. 

Rose Garden – Community art project 

Collage and film created by Jack Heydon

We received over 70 beautiful roses from young people across Suffolk, residents in care homes, RRC fans, RRC actors, our community participants and life sentence prisoners we work with at HMP Warren Hill. 

Red Rose Chain’s Associate Artist Jack Heydon brought all the roses together onto Gippeswyk Hall in a beautiful collage. Then with a few of Red Rose Chain’s favourite actors, Jack created a brilliant short film ‘Rose Garden’


To mark the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution, we streamed a special live play reading of Joanna Carrick’s critically acclaimed play, FALLEN IN LOVE

Fallen in Love – Live play reading 

Written and Directed by Joanna Carrick

This remarkable play, which was performed in the Tower of London in 2013, explores the relationship between Anne and her brother George and their remarkable rise to power in the Tudor courts. FALLEN IN LOVE is the first play within Joanna Carrick’s Tudor Trilogy, exploring the 16th century through the eyes of three extraordinary women who shaped it: Anne Boleyn, Suffolk Martyr Alice Driver (PUT OUT THE LIGHTS) and Queen Elizabeth I (PROGRESS).

This event also featured conversations with broadcaster Libby Purves and writer Joanna Carrick, as well was exclusive content from the original productions.

WitchFinders audio plays

Throughout lockdown, we have continued to communicate and support prisoners serving life sentences at HMP Warren Hill.


Two new audio plays about the Witch Finder General written by residents at HMP Warren Hill

We work with a group of prisoners serving whole-life orders on drama and heritage projects as part of HMP Warren Hill’s ground-breaking education and rehabilitation programme. The work they create is remarkable, exploring the complexities of redemption and draws parallels between their own experiences and stories from the past.

Throughout lockdown, we sent them packs with resources and creative writing activities based around the 17th Century witch trials and the self-proclaimed ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins. In response, the residents wrote two incredible scripts, CAULDRON’S BUBBLING and FIND HER, which we have produced professionally as audio dramas.

Our community work

Since we closed the doors of Gippeswyk Hall in March 2020, we have continued our entire community programme, supporting over 50 participants with digital and online engagement. We run weekly zoom drama workshops, support participants who volunteer on our digital productions and create art and creative writing resource packs which we send to participants homes and to the prisoners we work with.

This work would not have been possible without the support of The National Lottery Community Fund


The Avenue Community Theatre ‘ACT’

Our community company ‘ACT’ have been busy continuing to work on their project exploring the 17th Century Witch Hunts in Suffolk. They have been creating poems, artwork and creative writing based on the historical research we have explored together in sessions before lockdown.

Rather amazingly, some of the group have begun writing a play that time travels between the 17th and 21st Centuries, looking at how both societies persecute people for being different.

The Chainers Youth Theatre

The Chainers Youth Theatre have continued their workshops online, creatively using the zoom squares to perform pieces from Shakespeare’s PERICLES! They have created a short film with scenes filmed remotely and edited together by one the Chainers, Ted!

Members of the group have also volunteered virtually as part of THEATRE IN THE FOREST AT HOME and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Chainers Ellie and Rei have also created some amazing resource packs for under 5s and our Gold Chainers!

The Gold Chainers Youth Theatre

The Gold Chainer’s Youth Theatre were about to perform their play THE NIGHTINGALE before we went into lockdown in March 2020, but the group have continued to work on the production, making it even bigger and better!! They have created amazing artwork for the set and props for their play.

The group also come together for zoom drama workshops, most recently looking at the story of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and working with the actors from our production, helping to create the music and choreography!


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