Who We Are

Immediate Theatre is a registered charity established in 1996.

Our purpose is to use theatre and the arts to help people engage with issues and concerns and to imagine the process of change. The term “immediate” implying the “right here” on your doorstep and the “right now” of what is happening today. We believe that the arts have an intrinsic role to play in society and should not be restricted within institutions, but happening everywhere.

Our Objectives:

  • To provide inspiring participatory theatre programmes enabling people to reach their potential and prevent exclusion and social isolation
  • To create performances which explore social issues, engage people in the process of change and influence decision making
  • To improve health and wellbeing and increase life skills and employability through engagement in the arts

Read more about how we achieve our objectives in our reports.

Our Aims


Inspirational Theatre Programmes

To provide inspirational participatory theatre programmes enabling young people at high risk to reach their potential


Explores Social Issues

To offer a theatre programme for young audiences which explores social issues and enables them to engage in the process of change


Employability for Young People

To improve employability for young people and create pathways to employment in the arts.


Involvement for Young People

To support the involvement of young people in decision making and to develop future community leaders

Innovative Approach

Over the last 21 years Immediate Theatre has developed an innovative approach which defines its work:

  • working at the grass roots and engaging people where they live;
  • taking a holistic approach with each participant; combining quality practice in youth work as well as arts;
  • creating new work with and for local audiences, providing an innovative peer led approach to tackling key issues;
  • encouraging people to question and challenge the world around them and express their response through drama;
  • providing positive role models by our choice of frontline staff; who encourage new, and higher, aspirations;
  • embedding work in the community, using local knowledge and a multi-agency approach to support positive outcomes;
  • providing long-term opportunities; recognising that vulnerable people need time to develop the confidence to reach their potential; and
  • developing employment and progression opportunities for young people in youth arts and as young leaders
  • creating new work with and for young audiences providing an innovative peer led approach to tackling key issues.

Our History

Immediate Theatre was set up by Jo Carter in 1996 in response to Hackney’s Agenda 21 consultative process.

Agenda 21 brought together the council and community to develop practical ways to tackle economic, social, and environmental problems and achieve sustainable development.

From the outset, our vision was to work closely with locally based organisations and community groups to create theatre which engaged people in the process of change. The combination of participatory projects and professional productions was designed to bring local theatre practitioners together with the community to create inspiring work with high artistic standards for specific audiences. The term “immediate” implying “right here” on your doorstep and the “right now” of being responsive to current issues affecting local people.

Whilst we have refined our purpose and aims over the past 21 years we have always remained true to our initial intention.

Some highlights over the years include:

We all Fall Down was a touring production originally commissioned in 1998/99 for older people about preventing falls in the home, created in partnership with the Mobile Repair Service and older people from Hackney and Newham. The show toured regularly until 2005.

Immediate Theatre’s first Estate-based Youth Theatre was established in Stamford Hill in 1998. We have now worked on over 15 estates across the borough of Hackney working with thousands of young people to create hundreds of performances in community venues, site specific environments, and established theatre venues such as Arcola Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, Rich Mix, Chat’s Palace and the Hackney Empire.

Interactions was set up in 2000 with funding from the National Youth Agency to provide drama and arts activities for young people in alternative education settings. The work continued to be funded until 2012.

Cracked was commissioned by East London and the City Mental Health Trust in 2001 providing twenty days of training using a large installation created at Trinity Buoy Warf. Winner of Community Care Award 2002. This has led to ongoing work around mental health.

Since 2002 we have toured performances to schools created with young people. Shows include:

  • Tudor Hackney: developed for key-stage two, a performance based on the story of John and Jane Daniels and their house in Hackney. It toured to schools in Hackney and used to develop an interactive film as part of a website with Hackney Archive. Hosted by the National Archive.
  • Hoax: developed with year ten students to create a play for young people in year six about the dangers of making hoax calls to the emergency services, commissioned by Camden Community safety team led by Fire Brigade. (toured for three years)
  • The Gingerbread House: developed with the Healthy Lifestyles Group, a professional touring production for primary schools exploring the experience of being overweight and trying to establish a healthy lifestyle.
  • Beat Them; Join Them: developed in partnership with Face Front Inclusive Theatre and working with an inclusive company, the play explored bullying and was performed to key-stage four students in Hackney, Haringey and Newham.

In 2006, Hackney Theatre Pathways brought together Hackney Empire, Arcola Theatre, Theatre Centre, Hoxton Hall and Chats Palace, funded by the London Development Agency. Under the leadership of Immediate Theatre, the project offered training and supported routes into theatre and the creative sector for young people aged 16-25. This has led to ongoing work around employability including the 2moro Project which trained and employed 20 young people as Peer Facilitators on our Estate-Based Youth Theatre programme.

In 2012, we received funding from Heritage Lottery Funding to create the Big Blue Fence, an interactive installation which quite literally represented a section of the fence that surrounded the Olympic development site, hidden within it were doors which opened to reveal the memories and ideas of residents gathered through work with local groups. The Fence was displayed at Hackney Museum, Waltham Forest Library and Stratford Library in Newham. The project engaged with schools and older people’s groups and was viewed by an estimated 72,000 people.