Norwich Puppet Theatre is celebrating a funding boost for its Christmas show which will kick off the venue’s 35th anniversary year.

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The Whitefriars theatre has received £40,000 in Lottery-funded Grants For The Arts money from Arts Council England which will be used for a production of Beauty and the Beast and a number of other projects.

NPT director Joy Haynes said: “The production will be at the beginning of our 35th anniversary year and we will be using the marionette bridge which was part of the initial development of the theatre. We want to reinvigorate the theatre space by using the bridge and presenting a spectacle that involves marionettes but also contemporary media including film, sound and visuals. “It’s going to be a family feast for Christmas. The treatment of the story will be quite contemporary and we want to explore the ideas of beauty and beastliness. We want to set it in the early film era on the set of a film called The Beast, and the puppeteers will tell the story through the objects around them.”

She said there were plans for some partnership work with The Garage’s theatre company, and there was also a plan to launch an Arts Award programme for young people alongside the show. Part of the funding will also be used to develop, in connection with Writers’ Centre Norwich, a writing for puppet and visual theatre programme for emerging writers, and to fund research for a new early years show.

Ms Haynes said: “It’s a bit of a package. It’s about developing Norwich Puppet Theatre’s profile as a space which has a really rich history but at the same time is vibrant and full of new ideas.”

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast - which is being designed and directed by Gavin Glover - are set to go on sale in mid August.

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