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HEAD EAST – Behind the Scenes, with Douglas Rintoul




Douglas has worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious theatre companies, including Complicité, the National Theatre, Barbican, Hampstead Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, English Touring Opera, Salisbury Playhouse and Glyndebourne. He was most recently the Artistic Director of the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, where he was instrumental in shaping the theatre’s artistic vision and developing its reputation as a leading regional theatre. Douglas moved to Ipswich in 2022 to take up the role of Chief Executive/Artistic Director of the New Wolsey Theatre.


Doug Rintoul


What are you most looking forward to in this year’s programme for the New Wolsey Theatre? 

I’m really excited to be getting my teeth into directing Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter, adapted for the stage by Emma Rice. It’s a hugely playful and spirited take on the most romantic love story ever told. Emma’s work is thrilling ‘event theatre’ for today’s audiences, so it was the perfect choice for my first big show at the New Wolsey Theatre. I’m thrilled to be working with Wiltshire Creative again and I’m proud that this Ipswich-made production will be seen by audiences across the UK with our brilliant partners, touring from Salisbury and Ipswich to Guildford, Bury St Edmunds and Newcastle upon Tyne.


Outside of your work with the New Wolsey Theatre what else are you going to see or looking forward to?

credit:  Waterfront Dance Day, CO DanceEast

I’m really enjoying making the most of what Ipswich has to offer culturally – which is a lot! I’ve enjoyed great gigs at the Baths, Smokehouse and the Corn Exchange. I’ve become a member of the King Street Cinema and I’m loving its diverse independent programme. A cultural highlight was seeing world-class contemporary dance at DanceEast. I can’t believe all of this is on my doorstep. I’m off to see a musical at the Regent this week and a new work at Eastern Angles. And then there’s the rest of the region! I’ve got tickets for shows at the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds and Norwich Theatre. We’re really spoilt for choice.


What else do you do with your spare time?

The Spread Eagle pub

I’ve been discovering the region over the last nine months. Walking from my flat on the Waterfront to the theatre I love the clash of architecture – past the Willis Building and up through the beautiful lanes with buildings like the Ancient House – it’s a stunning town.

A recent walk from Ipswich to Woodbridge through the countryside was so peaceful, but Pin Mill took my breath away on a Boxing Day cycle from Ipswich. It was magical in the winter sun. Felixstowe has been a revelation with its great walks along the seafront to the fort or to the ferry. I’m enjoying being close to the sea. The Spread Eagle pub in Ipswich has become my regular. My partner and I love it. It’s cosy, welcoming and inclusive with great DJs and tasty beers. I’ve had lots of great meals in Ipswich, the Mariners is a great spot with delicious food, but my favourite is ChutneyZ. I’ve spent a lot of time in India for work and travelling and this is authentic, and the staff are great. It’s also very close to my flat. I’m looking forward to trying out Takayama.


Why Head East?

I moved to Ipswich to take over the New Wolsey Theatre because I’ve loved this venue for a long time. I’ve always admired the diversity of its programming, from its big home-produced accessible musicals to the innovative work by some of the best theatre companies in the UK. It’s rewarding to curate a programme that offers Ipswich and beyond shows that reflect its community and gives it an opportunity to experience the best of theatre out there.


I’m excited by our free summer outdoor event The Big Picnic and we’ve got the UK’s best gig-theatre company Middlechild coming with their new work Modest which uses Music Hall, theatre and drag king cabaret to bring you the story of Elizabeth Thompson (the megastar of the Victorian art scene). The critically acclaimed company ATC are coming with Family Tree – a beautifully poetic drama about one of the most influential Black women of modern times, Henrietta Lacks. Rifco, who produce vibrant, accessible and ambitious new work reflecting and celebrating British South Asian experiences, are rocking up with their critical hit comedy Happy Birthday Sunita.



And then there’s so much more!


To find out more about the New Wolsey Theatre and its Summer/Autumn programme, click here



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