Outpouring of support for creative directors who led Maddermarket Theatre for last two years

09:48 09 March 2016

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck at the Maddermarket Theatre. Photo by Simon Finlay.

An outpouring of support has been shown for the creative duo who have led the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich for the past two years after it was revealed their contracts are not to be renewed.

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

As the venue’s joint creative directors, Stash Kirkbride and Peter Beck have overseen an ambitious revamp of the theatre and championed a diverse programme of shows, but they have now been told that their two-year contracts will not be renewed as the theatre plans to change its management structure and instead recruit a general manager and an artistic director.

Following the shock announcement, both of them spoke of how proud they were of their many achievements at the theatre. Mr Beck is currently directing the theatre’s March production, The Dresser, and Mr Kirkbride will be returning to direct the May production, The Vortex,

Many people have posted comments on our original online story and have taken to Facebook and Twitter to show their support for the pair.

On the Evening New website, Ray Brayddon said: “The work Mr Beck & Mr Kirkbride have done in a short time has been nothing short of miraculous.”

John Brown added: “They have given their complete energies to the theatre far beyond the hours their contracts ask of them for no extra remuneration than their love of theatre and to see the Maddermarket thrive.”

Meanwhile on Twitter Karl Minns (@karlminns), from comedy act The Nimmo Twins, said: “Dreadful decision at Norwich’s @Maddermarket to lose Peter Beck and Stash Kirkbride.”

Hayley Evenett (@hayleyevenett) said the theatre was “about to lose its two visionaries” and Rachel Lloyd (@RachelELloyd) described Facebook as being “full of confusion and sadness.”

There are more than 20 comments on the Maddermarket Theatre’s own Facebook page.

Among them, David Newham said: “Sad news. I hope there will be a future in which both men will play a part. I applaud their achievements over the past two years.”

Rachel Hall said: “I am lost for words about this decision. The last two years have seen the Maddermarket thrive. I have countless friends who now talk enthusiastically about going to the Maddermarket. The bar was transformed. Who was responsible for this success?? Peter Beck and Stash Kirkbride.”

Matthew Dartford said: “Really sad to hear this, both of them are top guys whose dedication and talent are clear. Best of luck to both.”

Christopher Neal said: “Sad news. I owe a lot to both of these guys. I’d not been at the Maddermarket long when they joined and they both gave me tremendous support and encouragement on my journey as an actor.”

As previously reported, Susan Seddon, chairman of the theatre’s board of trustees, has paid tribute to the work of Mr Beck and Mr Kirkbride, and said “their skills, energy and enthusiasm have given the theatre new momentum, as well as a smarter image.”

But she said the board had decided to change the management structure because the balance of the creative director partnership had changed over time. It was felt the theatre needed two full-time management roles and that there was a need for greater financial expertise on the staff. She said Mr Beck and Mr Kirkbride have both been told they are welcome apply for the new roles.

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  • The energy and vision that Stash and Peter have brought to the Maddermarket Theatre has moved it a long way on from where it was when they joined. I've always been aware of the Maddermarket but the guys have really helped to raise its profile locally and to reach out more tangibly to the local community and local business. It may be as a consequence of Stash and Peter's dynamic activities that it's now recognized that two full-time management roles are necessary. I wish them both well with their future projects, and hope that the board of trustees choose their successors wisely in order to continue the theatre's positive ascension.

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    Simon Brown

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

  • Interior. Dark. A large oak-paneled room. In the center: a heavy, wooden, oval table topped with black glass. Four candles [ahem] flicker. Surrounding the table a number of hooded figures sit in high leather-covered chairs: "Gentlemen, as you are no doubt aware this theatre has become as we intended. We cannot allow our control to slip. We must now crush their creative freedom and focus with unflinching determinism towards increasing our profits. We will, of course, prepare ourselves by issuing blunt statements. Only the necessary facts will be made public and no further dialogue will take place. Gentlemen, a toast: To the total destruction of creativity! Mammon."

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    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

  • I'm not surprised at the outpouring of support, they are both very popular both in and outside of the theatre, for the trustees to make such a lamentable decision will back fire on them. They've lost a lot of good will, support and respect from many people in Norwich, myself included. I only hope they do the decent thing and say "we got it wrong". I doubt it. Good luck Peter & Stash, the Maddermarkets loss will be someone else's gain.

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    Lucy J

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

  • They are the best things which have happened at the Theatre for many years and to lose them is unforgivable,especially to simply recruit a "finance expert". Buy in finance help as and when needed but don't undermine the whole reason the Theatre exists, which is for creative artistic entertainment reasons.It makes no sense and if that is the case something else is behind the decision. A re-think needed asap.

    Report this comment

    Diss man

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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