Families flock to Norwich Puppet Theatre open day

Scores of people gathered at Norwich's puppet theatre this weekend to have a tour of the building and to have a go at making their own puppet.

The theatre based in St James' Whitefriars was open as part of the heritage open day on Saturday. Families took part in a free puppet making workshop and went behind the scenes of the theatre.

Ben Taylor, 31, from Bull Close Road, attended with his five-year-old daughter Amelie.

Mr Taylor said: 'We come to the shows quite a bit and it's good to take part in the puppet making workshop. It's a fantastic place and very important to our community. It's great introduction for Amelie to the arts.'

Amelie said: 'Me and my class have been here to see the frog princess. My favourite puppets are the ghost puppets. I like making puppets, the last one I made a was a dragon. I love the puppet theatre, I wish I could come here every day.'

The theatre is currently seeking two new members to join its board of trustees.

Nic Hopkins, chair of the board of trustees said: 'We are ideally looking for someone will a background in business or primary education. We are moving forward and have a very exciting project in Red Riding Hood which is coming up soon, it's going to be an interesting take on an old tale.

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'The heritage open day gives people an opportunity to see the building and what's involved. The building is like a tardis because on the outside it looks like a church and you come in and it's a theatre.'

Venue manager Darren Taylor said: 'A lot of people have a special connection with the building. All of my family are from east London but my grandfather was christened here in this church.'

Tony Gray, 64, from Valleyside Road, off Plumstead Road, said: 'My grandparents John Gray and Beatrice Dann were due to marry here in 1909 but the church was in such a bad state they couldn't.'

Mr Gray's grandparents' marriage certificate shows St James' church crossed out and Mary Magdalen handwritten over the top.

'They married at Mary Magdalen in Silver Road. They were one of the first people to get married there.

'I think having the puppet theatre here is wonderful. The heritage day is great because you can look around some places which aren't normally open.'

*If you are interested in becoming a trustee please contact Nic Hopkins on 01603 615564

*Is your organisation holding an open day? Call reporter Lucy Wright on 01603 772495 or email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk