Founded in 1973 by Drama Adviser Hugh Lovegrove, Redbridge Drama Centre started life in an unused former Dr Barnardo’s Headquarters in Barkingside, Ilford. In 1975 it moved into its current premises in Churchfields, South Woodford.
In its early days Redbridge Drama Centre was mainly a base for teachers courses, evening workshops with students and a place for working with school groups. In 1978 it began to operate as a fringe theatre venue and early visiting companies included Shared Experience, Women’s Theatre Group and Kaboodle.
During the mid 1980s Redbridge Drama Centre began to establish itself as the media studies support service for Redbridge.
In 1995 the centre formed its own resident professional theatre company, Vital Stages Theatre Company. Vital Stage responds to commissions (NSPCC) to create touring shows for schools, other shows for the fringe and work place training packages.
In 1996 the Centre was awarded a lottery grant for capital development and extended the old building to include a workshop, a small studio and more showers and toilets. The programme of out of school workshops was expanded to include infants, lower juniors, upper juniors, young people, youth and adult theatre.
In 2006, after a change of leadership, Redbridge Drama Centre began to position itself as a fringe theatre venue, scheduling more performances by professional theatre companies. In 2007 it was awarded a grant by Arts Council England to do just that.