Find out more about our accessible performances Expand All
Audio Described performances give you a live commentary about the action happening on the stage through a pair of small headphones. It’s a great way for anyone who finds it difficult to see the details of a performance to still enjoy coming to the theatre.
If you use television audio description, a magnifier or large print books at home then live audio description means you can enjoy a theatre outing with your friends and family.
To help you immerse yourselves in the show as much as possible we offer touch tours before each audio-described performance enabling you to explore the stage and get a feel of the set and costumes before the play starts.
We recommend Audio Description headsets are pre-booked at the Box Office for a returnable deposit of £10.00.
During a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreted performance an interpreter stands on or at the side of the stage, clearly visible to the audience, and interprets the spoken word and sound effects for Deaf patrons who use BSL.
Ensure you tell the box office you are booking to use the interpreter and they will seat you appropriately.
Captioning converts the spoken word into text that provides people with hearing loss access to live performance. In captioning, the words appear on a screen at the same time as they are sung or spoken.
Captioning is a great way for anyone who finds it difficult to hear the actors speaking to still enjoy coming to the theatre. You may hear most things but if you need to see people’s faces to follow a conversation or struggle with certain voices, accents or styles of speaking. You will see the words spoken by the performers displayed as text on a screen on or next to the stage. You will also see the name of the character who is speaking and a description of any sound effects. It’s a bit like television subtitles.
People who are studying classic texts or want to improve their English may also find captioning useful.
A Relaxed Performance is one which has been carefully adjusted to reduce anxiety or stress for those who might otherwise find the experience unsettling or difficult.
For example, someone with autism, sensory and communication needs and/or a learning disability might be reluctant for a variety of reasons to attend public theatre performances. Relaxed performances are a fantastic way to offer families the chance to experience theatre together. In a Relaxed Performance, the audience benefit from a relaxed environment as the performance is adjusted to reduce anxiety or stress, for example changes are made to sound and lighting to eliminate surprise and soften their impact. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and moving around the auditorium during the performance.
Audience members always have the option to watch the show on plasma screen in the bar if being in the auditorium becomes overwhelming. We introduced relaxed performances as an extra option for audiences and to remove barriers to access and enjoyment. It’s about making the theatre welcoming and inclusive for all.
You can use the player below to listen to the Spring 2015 Audio Brochure. If you prefer, you can Download the Spring 15 Audio Brochure here, you can also to listen on your own device, or pick up a free CD copy from the box office.
Spring 2016 available on request.
Autumn 2016 coming soon.
Caroline Smith started learning to sign in 1996 after answering an advert to work for a charity supporting Deaf people. Consequently after completing stage 1 and 2 she fell in love with the language and decided to progress further. That was 16yrs ago and in that period added two more levels she qualified as a British Sign Language Interpreter.
She has six theatre shows under her proverbial belt and interprets at both Glastonbury and Latitude festivals, having interpreted for the likes of Muse, Faithless, The Wombles, Alabama Shakes, Mark Watson and Danny Wallace to name but a few! A strong believer that BSL should be on the schools curriculum coupled with a passion for the language still inspires her now to promote and encourage access in all areas of the community.
Loves include being a season ticket holder at Ipswich town, coffee and her two cats! Suffolk and proud.
Ivan became a fully qualified Sign Language Interpreter in September 2000, he is registered with the National Register of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind People. (NRCPD). Ivan is based in Suffolk although much of his work takes him to Essex, London, Cambridge and abroad.
Ivan’s interpreting experience is very eclectic but he also has many years experience of interpreting over 100 different theatre performances. Ivan has interpreted productions covering Pantomime, Drama, Farce, Comedy, Shakespeare and Musicals.
I started learning BSL in 1998 with the hopes of becoming a speech and language therapist, however loved BSL so much I decided to head to university and study Interpreting BSL/English. After getting my degree I moved back to my family home in Norfolk and started working for Deaf Connexions as an interpreter. 10 years later I am still working as an interpreter, and most of my work is within the community.
I began theatre interpreting about 4 years ago once having a family and completing a theatre interpreting course in London. I absolutely love the challenge of characterisation within the interpretation – the interpreter takes on all the characters! In the past few years I have interpreted for the New Wolsey Theatre for Penguin and The Magicians Daughter, and also at other theatres Sleeping Beauty, Dick Whittington, The BFG, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, The Holly and the Ivy, and The Mousetrap in the West End, as well as several drama workshops.
I have 2 lovely boys and enjoy going to the beach and I love cooking – especially cakes!
Tracey graduated from De Montfort University, Leicester with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts. During her studies she spent time as an intern at the Ensemble Theatre Community School in Pennsylvania and worked at the Alliance Children’s Theatre and Theatre Gael in Atlanta.
She has completed her Post Graduate Diploma in BSL/English Interpreting from the University of Central Lancashire and is registered as a Member of the Register of BSL/English Interpreters (MRSLI) and a Licensed Member of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (LASLI). She has also completed specialised interpreter training with Museums and Galleries in the Capital (MAGIC) and Theaters.
Ali is a director, actor and theatre and learning facilitator. Her company Dramatic Results create forum theatre for the private and public sector and she coaches business professionals in effective presentation and performance. She trained as an audio describer with see-a–voice and describes regularly for The Old Vic and the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. Alison has a master’s degree in applied theatre from The Central School of Speech and Drama.
Ruth James qualified as an Audio-Describer in 2007; trained by Vocaleyes Describers as part of the See-A-Voice programme, which aimed to extend the availability of Description throughout the country.
She has worked on a fascinating variety of theatre productions since then – from one man drag cabaret – ‘Bend it Like Beauty’ – to more traditional theatre such as Ibsen and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, and in very different venues – from tiny studios to large theatres.
Angela Bell trained as a theatre captioner through the See-a-Voice project run by StageText in 2009. Since then she has worked at the New Wolsey Theatre, Mercury Theatre Colchester and Theatre Royal Bury, captioning a variety of productions including Noises Off, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Hypochondriac and the Wolsey pantos Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin. She also participated in the StageText Discover Theatre Day at the New Wolsey in spring 2010, promoting accessibility in the theatre.
Angela’s professional background includes working with deaf learners as a Skills for Life literacy tutor and more recently as a Study Skills Assessor for Disabled Students in Higher Education. She has a BA Degree in English Literature from Southampton University and is interested in making theatre more accessible for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience members. She hopes to be involved in the StageText Community captioners programme in the future, training volunteer captioners to work in community theatre.
The auditorium is accessible from the street without encountering any steps. Row C is accessible from the Ground Floor Foyer without using steps, and Row K also, via the passenger lift to the Bar area on the first floor. Guide dogs are welcome throughout the building and, if you prefer, we will happily look after your dog whilst you watch the performance.
The theatre is accessible from the street without encountering any steps. The front doors to the theatre are newly automated for easy access.
Row C and Row K are accessible without encountering any steps. For each subsequent row there are two steps. There are four spaces available for wheelchair users in the auditorium, two in Row C and two in Row K. Click here to view seating plans where accessible seating is indicated in yellow.
Outlets & Amenities
The Box Office is located inside the main entrance. It has a low level service counter and an induction hearing loop system – to use turn your hearing aid to T. There is one accessible toilet on the ground floor near the Café Bar and one in the Bar on the first floor. You can pre-order interval drinks at the Café Bar and the Bar to avoid queuing.
Infra Red Hearing Enhancement System
There is an Infra Red Hearing System in the auditorium for patrons who need hearing enhancement. This replaces the traditional ‘loop’ that you might come to expect. You will need a headset to take advantage of the system. Head sets are collected from the Box Office for a returnable deposit of £10.00. You can either choose an in-ear headset that acts as headphones or a transmitter that enables your hearing aid to pick up a personally created loop by switching your hearing aid to ‘T’.
Touch Tours & Audio Described Performances
Touch Tours for visually impaired patrons are available before Audio Described performances. Touch tours introduce blind and partially sighted visitors to the arrangement of the stage and help participants to engage with the ideas, props and costumes. Please contact the Box Office for information on booking Touch Tours and headsets for a returnable deposit of £10.00.
The most convenient collection / drop off point for taxis is at the rear of the theatre by the Stage Door. The rear of the theatre is on Chapman Lane accessible via Black Horse Lane. From there the theatre is accessible via a ramp to the side of the building.
For daytime productions Suffolk County Council’s free shuttle bus stops just outside the theatre on Civic Drive. This service runs from 7.00am to 7.00pm.
Ipswich Dial-A-Ride Ltd (IDaR) provides wheelchair accessible minibuses- call 08453 479379 between 10.30am and 4.00pm.
For easiest access we recommend the Pay and Display Car Park accessible from Black Horse Lane, then left to the end of Chapman Lane where there are 5 Blue Badge Parking Bays. Parking charges do apply. The theatre is then accessible via a ramp.
The auditorium is accessible from the street using a passenger lift without encountering any steps and is accessible to wheelchair users. Guide dogs are welcome throughout the building and, if you prefer, we will happily look after your dog whilst you watch the performance.
The Studio is accessible from the street without encountering any steps. The auditorium is on the first floor and there is a passenger lift available. Once on the first floor, Row A is accessible without encountering any steps. There is one wheelchair space available in the auditorium. Assistance Dogs are welcome in the auditorium or staff are happy to dog-sit.
Outlets & Amenities
There is one accessible toilet on the ground floor. The Box Office is located to the frontas you enter and it has a low level service counter. The Bar has a low level service counter and you can pre-order interval drinks to avoid queuing.
The New Wolsey Theatre recommends that patrons park at the Car Park situated near the main house accessible from Black Horse Lane, then left to the end of Chapman Lane where there are 5 Blue Badge Disabled Parking Bays – the Studio is a three to four minutes walk from there via Lady Lane. Parking charges do apply. You can also drop off outside the New Wolsey Studio on St George’s Street but there is very limited parking due to residential permits.
Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, talks about restarting the theatre as a place that everyone can access without permission or concession as part of the Heads Up series of films for the Creative Case.
The ‘Heads Up’ series feature a number of arts professionals and arts organisations who discuss their involvement with the Creative Case and what it means to them.
For more information about the Creative Case, please visit the Creative Case for Diversity website: http://disabilityarts.creativecase.org
Want to stay in touch with the New Wolsey Theatre? Of course you do!