New director at the helm of Maddermarket Theatre’s artistic programme
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre has a new man at the helm of its artistic programme.
Thirty-two-year-old Jez Pike recently joined the St John's Alley venue as director of productions and will direct his first show, Noël Coward's Hay Fever, in April. Most recently he has been working as a freelance director in London, and Mr Pike said he was enjoying be part of the Maddermarket community.
'It's a very busy building with a lot going on. It has a lot of volunteers of all ages and they very much feel like the lifeblood of the organisation. It is very much their theatre,' he said, adding that he was also hoping to meet actors old and new this month when he holds open auditions to encourage more people to find out about acting opportunities.
About his vision for the theatre, he said: 'Really it's about building on what is already here and concentrating on doing what the Maddermarket does well, which is offer as many opportunities to people as possible to participate in the process of theatre in some way, whether backstage, front of house or on stage.'
Prior to joining the Maddermarket, Mr Pike was involved with events in the London Fringe, directing shows at Drama Studio London and Arts Educational Schools and also doing assistant and associate director roles at Donmar Warehouse and the Hampstead Theatre. He has done lots of work at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, Cumbria, and has an MA in directing from Birkbeck, University of London.
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But before all of this Mr Pike, originally from the Midlands and who has spent a lot of time in Warwickshire, actually trod the boards with the Royal Shakespeare Company as a child in a production of Coriolanus at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
'I mainly remember all the swordfighting!' he joked.
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Now he is preparing to direct four of the Maddermarket's 2017 shows - Hay Fever, Swallows and Amazons, Nell Gwynn and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
About the 2017 programme as a whole, he said: 'It's a really nice balanced programme which offers something for all...Swallows and Amazons is building that great family audience we have with the Christmas production and offering them something else later in the year...it's a witty and really clever adaptation that creates magic out of the simplest things.
'In contrast in May we have Kindertransport which is a really beautiful play inspired by the Kindertransport refugees who were taken out of Nazi Germany and given refuge in this country. It's about how being a refugee and having to leave your own country affects your identity...people will make their own connections with current events.'
Mr Pike is working alongside general manager Rebecca Wass who started in July.
Thirty-six-year-old Miss Wass, originally from Warwickshire and a graduate in theatre, film, television and English, was previously community support manager for homeless charity Emmaus, general manager at Cromer Pier, and has worked for Clear Channel Entertainment.
When asked about her hopes for the venue's future, she said it was about putting on great shows and ensuring the theatre is financially stable.
She said: 'It's all about the community. It's all about the people who continue to support us, the volunteers who come here, the players who perform here, it's about making them feel proud of this venue and a part of it.'
To express an interest in attending an open audition, email email@example.com