It’s a new year and a new look for Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 December 2014

Joint creative directors, Stash Kirkbride, left, and Peter Beck in Maddermarket Theatre's bar area which has been refurbished. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Joint creative directors, Stash Kirkbride, left, and Peter Beck in Maddermarket Theatre's bar area which has been refurbished. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2014

It has been part of Norwich’s arts scene for about a century, and in the New Year the Maddermarket Theatre is set to relaunch with a brand new look.

Joint creative directors Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck have been working on the project since May, and are excited to reveal what they are calling New Year-New Maddermarket Theatre.

Much of the project has been completed – including a revamped bar and art gallery – and work in 2015 will include the creation of a studio theatre and an improved box office.

The project – costing an estimated £55,000 – aims to reinvigorate the theatre, increase the variety of entertainment, and encourage even more actors, volunteers and audience members to be part of the Maddermarket community.

Mr Beck said: “The Maddermarket Theatre is a jewel in the crown of Norwich venues. It has got incredible history, but also it is used now just as it has always been.

“It is important for us that people remember it is here, it is vibrant, that there’s masses of theatre-making happening and that the doors are always open for people. We want to make sure actors, volunteers and audiences have great facilities.”

Mr Kirkbride added: “The Maddermarket is the closest thing that Norfolk has got to a repertory theatre and we are looking to update and reinvigorate the theatre and engage with an even wider community.”

Phase one has seen the theatre’s bar –- now in partnership with Redwell Brewery – sporting a fresh new look while paying tribute to the theatre’s heritage with a montage of past production photos. Old scripts decorate the bar top and a grand piano now sits in the corner.

There are plans for the bar to host more jazz events, including by Norwich Jazz Club, as well as other entertainment to complement the programme on the main stage. The redesigned art gallery will have a new exhibition each month.

Other elements of the front of house transformation have included a montage celebrating the Maddermarket’s Mad Red Youth Theatre Company and new carpet being laid throughout. Meanwhile, in the auditorium the gallery has been smartened up and new house lights installed, and the cottage adjoining the theatre has been refurbished and now houses a Maddermarket archive and serves as an office for several arts organisations as well as the theatre.

Phase two will include the theatre’s rehearsal room being modernised and turned into Emmerson Studio Theatre, named after past artistic director Ian Emmerson. The box office, toilets and backstage areas are also set to be refurbished in 2015.

The project has been made possible through the theatre forming many partnerships with local businesses and sponsorships, and the support of the Maddermarket Theatre Friends.

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at

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