Icon Theatre

Arts, Culture & Community

A large group of children, young people and adults are sitting on some steps in Sheerness. Its a sunny day, everybody is laughing and smiling, waving their hands in their air. Some people are wearing headphones.

Credit Ros Chesher – Sheppey Shadows, 2022

Icon Theatre is an award-winning theatre and participatory arts organisation, based at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, with strong connections to Swale. 

Icon Theatre brings together local communities and professional theatre-makers to push the boundaries of where theatre happens, who it is for and how it can help people and places to grow. Collaborating with communities, children and young people as equal partners with professional artists is at the heart of everything we do, be that making large-scale immersive productions or our ongoing participatory theatre projects in schools, drop-in centres, and criminal justice settings. 

We work with disadvantaged and excluded communities across North and East Kent, particularly in the most deprived neighbourhoods of Chatham and Sheerness, focusing on young people, families and adults with long term unemployment and mental health issues. Participants in our projects gain personal, social, professional and creative skills that lead to education and employment opportunities, as well as a greater sense of empowerment. 

Icon’s recent projects and productions include: The Ballad of St John’s Car Park, which was performed by a company of professional performers alongside 200 local residents and young people, telling a unifying story about activism and protest in Medway. If Not Now, a large-scale outdoor movement and dance-based production featuring 187 performers, breath-taking visuals projected onto the walls of Rochester Castle. Sheppey Shadows, an audio-drama project working with Fin Kennedy of Applied Stories, Icon Youth Theatre (Sheppey) and primary schools to reimagine local stories. Theatre31, which was a major three-year young people’s performing arts programme for Medway and Sheppey, engaging over 4000 young people from 2019-22.  

Icon is led by founder and artistic director, Nancy Hirst, and in 2022 we celebrated our twentieth anniversary.