Ian Emmerson

One of Norfolk's leading theatre directors who worked on more than 300 productions has died at home at the age of 82. Ian Emmerson was dedicated to the Maddermarket in Norwich for 31 years and was renowned for his energy and enthusiasm and for bringing 10 shows a year to the stage.

One of Norfolk's leading theatre directors who worked on more than 300 productions has died at home at the age of 82.

Ian Emmerson was dedicated to the Maddermarket in Norwich for 31 years and was renowned for his energy and enthusiasm and for bringing 10 shows a year to the stage.

He worked with some 1,500 actors but his legacy will live on in the very fabric of the individual institution after he persuaded the trust to embark on an ambitious extension in 1965.

Mr Emmerson, who lived in Deopham, near Wymondham, then masterminded a £20,000 appeal to help pay for the construction of today's foyer, bar, rehearsal room and wardrobe space.


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But the warm, kind-hearted man who helped shape the careers of many budding actors appeared on the stage himself just a couple of times.

Ironically, he once played a leading role in A Man For All Seasons, which was already scheduled for the Maddermarket this summer and will now be dedicated to his memory.

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Born in Northumbria, Mr Emmerson joined the Maddermarket in the late 1950s as guest director, before becoming director of productions for a three-year contract in 1958.

During his reign he brought the most important foreign playwrights as well as the best of British contemporary authors to a Norwich stage and introduced music hall nights, which became a traditional part of the Norwich New Year and widened the theatre's appeal.

His influence on the city's arts and culture was incalculable and was felt nationally by people who were trained by him - including those who had risen through the ranks of the youth theatre.

Speaking on his retirement at the age of 65 in 1989, he said he had often worked all day, every day, juggling three productions at a time and had "slotted my life outside the Maddermarket into the narrowest of corridors", until he finally asked for an assistant in 1981.

He quipped that after 40 years in theatre he would try to find out what real life was like - and remarkably he never returned to the theatre to guest direct. He is survived by his partner, Jonathan Meddings.

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