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Norwich theatre reduces capacity to 100 seats to reopen in November

PUBLISHED: 18:31 01 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:31 01 September 2020

The Maddermarket Theatre is to reopen in November called Norwichs Community Theatre. Picture: Tony Scheuregger

The Maddermarket Theatre is to reopen in November called Norwichs Community Theatre. Picture: Tony Scheuregger

Tony Scheuregger

Six months after the stage curtain last rose, the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich is set to reopen in November but with a dramatic change in its operations.

Much Ado About Nothing beign performed at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. Picture: James GoffinMuch Ado About Nothing beign performed at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. Picture: James Goffin

Based in St John’s Alley, the 300-seat city centre theatre faced financial ruin following the global pandemic which has savaged the UK’s creative industries.

A change in business strategy and operational activities will see the local theatre, which celebrates its centenary in 2021, relaunching as Norwich’s Community Theatre when it restarts operations.

MORE: ‘What’s the point?’ – City venues react to reopening with social distancing

“Over the past six months we have reviewed all our operations and have decided to go back to our roots,” said Maddermarket Theatre Trust chair, Paula Meir.

Paula Meir, Maddermarket Theatre Trust chairman. Picture: Maddermarket TheatrePaula Meir, Maddermarket Theatre Trust chairman. Picture: Maddermarket Theatre

“We will become a hub for community theatre-based activity in Norfolk.”

Unlike many other theatres the Maddermarket has found a way to remove seating in its auditorium to ensure social distancing, reducing capacity to just over 100 seats.

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“We have to adapt to the new normal. We are determined that the Maddermarket will not only survive but will flourish as Norwich’s Community Theatre,” said Ms Meir.

She has been leading the board and management of the Maddermarket to shore up the theatre finances and devise a post-coronavirus recovery strategy.

She said: “There are going to be three strands to our future work: social prescribing; education; and theatre production. We are forming partnerships with key organisations across Norfolk, and will be placing the community at the heart of everything we do.”

Coronavirus measures will see capacity reduced by a third to 100 seats when the Maddermarket Theatre reopens. Picture: Denise BradleyCoronavirus measures will see capacity reduced by a third to 100 seats when the Maddermarket Theatre reopens. Picture: Denise Bradley

The theatre will be releasing more details later this month but promises to re-open in November with a brand new community festival featuring some well-known Norfolk faces.

She said: “We will be releasing more details very shortly but we are planning a fantastic line-up in our new, week long, November festival.”

MORE: ‘Time is running out to save the future of our theatres’

Housed in a former chapel, the Maddermarket has entertained generations since it first opened its doors to the public in 1921 as the permanent home of the Guild of Norwich Players, a company of amateur actors brought together by theatre director Nugent Monck.

In recent years it has produced 11 in-house plays each year interspersed with visiting companies and some famous name artists mixing drama, classical and contemporary music, dance and comedy.

It has also been home to the Mad Red Theatre School, which offers drama classes and workshops.


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