New pub theatre for Norwich

A new theatre company is taking over a city centre pub's back room this Christmas to perform a play about mince pies.

Pub theatre does not exist in Norwich at present, but Velvet Canteen is remedying that and plans to perform more plays next year.

Its first play 'Mincing the Pies' will be performed at the Birdcage pub in Pottergate.

The back room is already used to host cabarets on Wednesdays, sell clothes on Sundays and a craft fair will soon be held there.

It can cater for up to 45 people, but the company said they would be happy to get 10 people in for these performances, which will be their first work.

Velvet Canteen comprises Danny O'Hara, 40, from Earlham, and Hetty Rance, 34, who lives off Dereham Road. The play will be performed at 6pm, 9pm and 11pm on December 19 and 20, and at 3pm and 6pm on December 28, 29 and 30.

Ms O'Hara said: 'We feel Norwich needs a pub theatre.

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'This is our first ever venture, but we hope it will be the first of many. We hope theatre will be another reason to visit a pub and add towards a nice night out.

'We will be doing half hour shows of 'Mincing the Pies' for the price of just over a pint, �4.

'The play has a massive twist to it.'

The company hopes to perform at the fringe at next year's Norfolk and Norwich festival and will continue to perform at the Birdcage, with a planned Valentine's Day event and up to four productions per year. Danny runs her own youth theatre company, Slow Theatre Company in Wymondham, and Hetty trained at Lamda, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Both have other jobs, with Danny working for homelessness support and Hetty in retail.

Slow Theatre Company is currently directing a youth theatre performance as part of the National Connections Festival, and will start Saturday acting classes in the new year.

Pub theatres have a long tradition in London dating back to the Middle Ages.

However, the King's Head in Islington, founded in 1970, was probably the first pub theatre since Shakespearean times. It established the model for the typical London pub theatre of today in a room above, or occasionally below, the pub itself. Seating areas are small, often holding fewer than 100 people, and the space between the audience and the actors is minuscule.

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What events are you putting on this Christmas in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email

What do mince pies mean to you? Tell us via a letter or our website.

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