Century-old theatre reopening for first time since covid lockdown

Members of the Norwich Players being directed by director Tony Fullwood for their The Merry Wives of Norwich performance.

Members of the Norwich Players being directed by director Tony Fullwood (right) for their The Merry Wives of Norwich performance. - Credit: Maddermarket Theatre

The stage is set for a century-old Norwich Lanes theatre to reopen after months of closure from the covid pandemic.

The Maddermarket Theatre, on Saint John's Alley, born out of a derelict Roman Catholic chapel, is relaunching this summer with an adapted version of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich Credit: Denise Bradley

The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. - Credit: Denise Bradley

From August 27-30, The Merry Wives of Norwich will be performed by the theatre's in-house amateur group - the Norwich Players - in the venue's outdoor courtyard in front of 50 people.

Laura Landamore, who is on the board of trustees, said: "When a theatre goes dark it is a strange and eerily sad feeling. The lockdown was a horrible few months but we remained positive.

"There was a sense of frustration and loss. For some of the volunteers it is a way of life for them. There is nothing like live theatre."

A recent production of James and the Giant Peach at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich before the covid lockdown.

A recent production of James and the Giant Peach at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich before the covid lockdown. - Credit: Maddermarket Theatre

She added the volunteers who help keep the theatre running were like family and the venue created a "great sense of community".

Ahead of the outdoor show, Miss Landamore said: "There is a buzz and a lovely vibe around the theatre."

The first indoor performance will be One Man, Two Guvnors by Sound Ideas Theatre Company, a professional group, which runs from September 7 until September 11 and future performances include a comedy performance by I'm A Celebrity star and The Inbetweeners actor Emily Atack on October 2.

Emily Atack attending Gold's 25th birthday party and the launch of UKTV Original Murder on the Black

Television actress Emily Atack. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

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All shows inside will be shown to a full-capacity audience of 300 people but Miss Landamore said the theatre would work with government guidelines if needed and said it would be appreciated, but not mandatory, for theatre-goers to wear masks when walking around.

A performance from several years ago at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich.

A performance from several years ago at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. - Credit: Maddermarket Theatre

Other safety measures will include keeping doors open for ventilation and having hand sanitiser available.

She added: "Our money comes from bums on seats so it is important people come to support us. That is why we are putting on such an eclectic season for 2021/22. The Maddermarket Theatre is a charming place."

The board member said she wanted a variety of theatre groups and businesses to use the space which will celebrate its centenary this year and next year.

A picture showing how the Maddermarket Theatre stage in Norwich used to look.

A picture showing how the Maddermarket Theatre stage in Norwich used to look. - Credit: Maddermarket Theatre

Visit https://maddermarket.co.uk or email office@maddermarket.org or bookings@maddermarket.org to get involved or book tickets.


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