Want to get up close and personal with Chain Reaction? 
Then read on, and we’ll tell you all about ourselves!

How old are we?

Chain Reaction started life in 1993 as a project run by a community arts organisation based in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Seven young female students studying Performing Arts at Barking College were chosen to write and perform a piece of theatre which aimed to provide young people with accurate information about smoking. The performance was called Chain Reaction.


The original intention was a one-off tour to schools and youth centres in Barking & Dagenham but due to the phenomenal success of the show, the group of actresses began touring the show across other London boroughs…

So what happened next?

Well, in 1994 Sarah Smit (neé Choppen) and two other actresses who were involved in the initial project decided to establish a professional theatre company. Motivated by a huge passion for making a positive change to people’s lives, they set about using theatre to communicate important messages about personal, social and health issues… and Chain Reaction Theatre Company was officially born!


Since this date, with Sarah at the helm as our Artistic Director, we have developed twelve educational theatre shows on issues that affect young people. We’ve gained an outstanding reputation for delivering effective engaging issue-based workshops to young people, including young offenders and those who are considered ‘at risk’ of disengaging from society. And we’ve also become very successful at developing mainstream theatre projects for adults, training videos for corporate companies and issue-based theatre productions for the public and private sector. Pretty good going, we think!


Our passion, energy and enthusiasm are still as strong as ever, and, with a wealth of skills and experience developed over the past 25 years, delivering inspirational theatre projects to young people in disadvantaged areas is still the reason we get up in the morning!


When Chain Reaction started way back in the distant 90s, we never even dreamed that we would reach so many young people and help make so many amazing changes to the communities that we grew up in. But since 1994, we are proud to say we have worked with over 408,000 young people – that’s more than a third of a million young people who have felt the positive effects of our work!

“Chain Reaction are a positive role model.  The standard of performing is high.  This is probably the clearest example I have seen of young people taking control of their own creativity”

Rob West, London Arts

And what's going on now?
We’ve still been growing, learning, inspiring and delivering amazing work as always, and have been busy running some really great projects. In the past few years alone the impact of our pioneering work with young people has been widely recognised;
  • Our founder and Artistic Director Sarah was selected to be a 2012 Olympic Torchbearer in honour of her life-time commitment and persistent hard work in tackling youth and community issues

  • The long-serving Chair of our Board of Trustees, Mike Dyer, was awarded an MBE for his long -term service to the voluntary sector and work with disadvantaged young people

  • We were invited (not once but twice!) to receptions with the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, where he thanked us personally for our commitment to working with young people and encouraging youth volunteering

  • We were short listed as one of the 6 finalists for the Young Peoples Sexual Health Project of the Year at the Brook UK Sexual Health Awards for our Barking and Dagenham based teenage pregnancy prevention project Spread The Word (click here to read more about this amazing project!)

  • We were awarded the London 2012 Inspire Mark for our Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets based project Get in the Game, inspired by the Olympics.