Eastern Angles moves into new home
- Credit: Archant
Eastern Angles has spent the past 12 months in a state of flux. Great things were about to happen just as lockdown arrived last March and what should have been hailed with cheers and trumpets has happened rather more quietly and more slowly.
Suffolk’s leading touring theatre company has a new home – or rather has gained an impressive extension to their current premises – by taking up residence in the adjoining, former Ipswich Record Office
For artistic director and co-founder of the company Ivan Cutting the process which should have heralded a new beginning and a new focus for the 21st century has been rather more muted than he would have liked.
Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and New Anglia LEP has allowed the theatre company to move into the rest of the building and start to create a new home as well as establish a greater presence in the community.
Historically, Eastern Angles has been principally a touring company taking plays with a local resonance out on the road – bringing theatre to people in rural towns and villages who may otherwise find it difficult to see a live performance.
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These tours will continue but Ivan says that the unveiling of The Eastern Angles Centre, as their expanded home as been renamed, will have more of a community focus and serve as an arts and heritage hub for Ipswich’s Westgate ward.
Despite lockdown, Eastern Angles have been able to launch their new centre with a window display called Local Legends created by the local community and artist Catalina Carvajal.
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Ivan said: “A key focus for the new arts and heritage centre is to provide space and activities for the local residents.
"Colombian born, visual artist and illustrator Catalina Carvajal has been working with the community to hear about the hidden, unsung heroes, and helpers who keep the community thriving.
"Nominations from over 70 young people have included Kia - an Assistance Dog, John - who collects litter along the river, and Kasha Blake, headteacher at Handford Hall Primary School.
"Additional nominations for community members included, the postal workers and local shopkeepers as well as Lucy Hood, Senco teacher at St Matthews CE Primary School.
“A special place is held in the hearts of the community for the nurses and doctors, teachers, family and friends that have helped us through the past year. Heroes can be found in all forms, we even have imaginary ones. Catboy, was nominated as the supportive brother of one of our workshop attendees.”
Eastern Angles thrives on storytelling and the new centre will allow them to establish closer links with the West Ipswich community and allow to uncover more stories from this diverse area of the town.
“We were supposed to move in April but it took longer for the Record Office to move into their new home at The Hold and so, with the Covid restrictions thrown into the mix, the whole thing has taken longer than anyone would have wanted but we are there now.”
The building will slowly be reconfigured over the coming months to create office and rehearsal space which will allow the theatre area to be made more available to outside groups to hire.
The centre will also become a focus for community and education workshops and rehearsal space for hire.
In addition, work on future tours continues. Ivan says they have a Julian Harries-penned Christmas show waiting to go which may be re-purposed as a late spring show which will play to a limited live audience, sat at bubbled tables, cabaret-style, and also streamed to an online audience.
“It’s another of Julian’s inspired creations, a film noir parody called Sam Snape & The Mystery of the Chillesford Chough. Also we would love to get Red Skies, our aborted spring tour from last year out on the road, if it is safe to do so. It tells the story of what may have happened when writers George Orwell and Arthur Ransome met up in Southwold on the eve of World War II. But, of course, we can only do this, if the Covid restrictions allow.
“Nevertheless we will be busy commissioning new work and get the new Eastern Angles Centre ready for when the lockdown finally does come to an end.”