Creative directors will leave Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre in management changes

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. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Efforts are under way to fill the two most senior posts at the Maddermarket Theatre after the shock announcement that the duo currently at the helm are to leave their roles.

Joint creative directors, Stash Kirkbride, right, and Peter Beck in the Maddermarket Theatre's bar a

Joint creative directors, Stash Kirkbride, right, and Peter Beck in the Maddermarket Theatre's bar area which has been refurbished. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

Peter Beck and Stash Kirkbride were both on two-year contracts as joint creative directors but have been told that these will not be renewed as the theatre plans to change its management structure and instead recruit a general manager and an artistic director.

Susan Seddon, chairman of the theatre's board of trustees, 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 and it was felt the theatre needed two full-times management roles and that there was a need for greater financial expertise on the staff.

'They [Mr Beck and Mr Kirkbride] have both been told they are welcome to apply for these posts but because it is a restructure we feel we have to, in terms of transparency and equal opportunities, advertise. We have been advised to advertise,' she said.

Mr Beck and Mr Kirkbride have together achieved a great deal for the theatre since they took up their posts in May 2014.

They have led the venue through an ambitious revamp across the whole building, including the creation of the Emmerson Studio Theatre. They have also championed a diverse programme of shows, including the venue's 2015-16 Christmas show, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, which was thought to have topped all previously known box office records at the Maddermarket.

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Mr Beck, who is currently directing the theatre's March production, The Dresser, said: 'It's with great sadness that my contract has come to an end but the trustees have decided to take the theatre in a different direction.'

He added: 'I am proud that during my time as joint creative director I have helped transform the Maddermarket into the thriving theatre it has become with its increased participation and wider programme of self-generated and touring shows. The venue's facilities have been vastly improved, with transformations taking place both front of house and backstage for future generations of theatre makers to enjoy.'

Mr Kirkbride added he was glad to have been involved in the first two years of what he saw as a five to 10-year project to realise the theatre's full potential for the future.

He said: 'I am so proud to have played a part in the relaunching of this jewel in the crown of Norwich theatre. Peter and I have achieved so much, with the help of so many people on the ground, in a very short period of time. I look forward to returning to the theatre to direct the May production of 'The Vortex' and to being of support in the future.'

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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