Director departs after less than a year at Norwich Maddermarket Theatre

A city theatre has had to make some changes to its programme line-up following the departure of its director of productions.

Last September Stephen Picton had taken on the role at the Maddermarket Theatre - which this year is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the theatre and the 100th anniversary of the Guild of Norwich Players - but Mr Picton left last month after directing the venue's July show.

On the theatre's website and in it's latest brochure Averil Brennan, chairman of the Maddermarket Trust, confirmed his departure.

She said: 'Our director of productions, Stephen Picton, tendered his resignation earlier this summer, and left the Maddermarket after directing our July production of Under Milk Wood.

'Stephen had been with the Theatre for just under a year, so it's fair to say that things didn't quite work out as either he, or the Maddermarket, would have wished.

'Suffice to say that, on the one hand, we were not entirely in agreement over Stephen's terms of employment, or about his role. And, on the other hand, I think Stephen's family commitments as a new dad probably made life slightly difficult for him given the unsociable working hours that evening rehearsal schedules inevitably involve.'

Mrs Brennan paid tribute Mr Picton's work during his months at the theatre.

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'Although Stephen was with us for only a relatively short period of time he will be remembered for some excellent productions including The BFG, Oleanna and 40 Years On – the latter giving him an opportunity to display his own considerable acting skills.

'Stephen is a very talented man; we are sorry to lose him so quickly, and I wish him every success for the future,' she said.

Mr Picton had been due to play a key role in the writing of the theatre's October revue show and its December production of A Christmas Carol. Instead Roger Parsley will direct Harold Pinter's No Man's Land in October while Tim Seely will direct John Mortimer's adaptation of A Christmas Carol in December.

The theatre has also chosen to change its scheduled production of Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings for a different show by the same playwright - How the Other Half Loves - after finding out a touring production of Season's Greetings was to visit Norwich.

Mrs Brennan was not available to speak yesterday, but the theatre's administrator Dawn Brindle said: 'At present we are not looking for a new director of productions. We are covered with guest directors up until Christmas and into the new year.'

She said more about the theatre's future plans may be indicated at the theatre's AGM which takes place on September 4.

Ms Brindle said there were a number of ways the theatre was celebrating its anniversary year including a special in-house exhibition about the theatre's heritage in September and October and a new book that is due to be published charting the Maddermarket's history. She said the venue will also be open to the public during next month's Heritage Open Days.

• Do you have a story about an exciting arts project in the city? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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