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About Us

A 300 seat riverside theatre in the heart of the city, Norwich Playhouse is a friendly, relaxed and intimate venue developed from a Georgian maltings. Come in - have a look around - something is always happening!

We programme a broad range of shows all year round, performed by top companies from all over the world. As well as being recognised as one of the very best comedy venues in East Anglia we present international music stars, critically-acclaimed drama companies, fun-filled children’s events and shows that are just a bit…different. From firm musical favourites to fresh new writing, and from well-established stars to the pick of the newcomers, the Playhouse offers something for everyone.

We have an award-winning garden – a beautiful spot on a summer evening – and two busy galleries exhibiting a variety of works by local artists.

We also have a great bar, selling wines and spirits, local ales, fresh juices, hot cocktails, Fairtrade drinks and German beers with unpronounceable names. You can pre-order interval drinks and then stay afterwards for the lovely music, free Etch-A-Sketch and happy chatter of the clientele.

HISTORY OF THE PLAYHOUSE:

The Playhouse opened in 1995 in what had formerly been a 19th Century maltings. In the interim, the building had been the Crown Public House, the head office of the Norwich Mercury Newspaper, the depot for Ruymps builders' merchants, the warehouse of a motor-cycle dealer and a Greek restaurant!

In all, from launch to opening, the project of creating the theatre with its open end-stage took six years. It was undertaken by Henry Burke, the founder, and the consultant Iain Macintosh of Theatre Projects. They worked with a team of experts headed by local architects Lambert Scott and Innes.

The cost was £2,500,000, of which an astonishing 80% was raised from private individuals and small businesses. Grants of £400,000 from the Arts Council Lottery Fund and £100,000 from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts made up the balance.

When the Playhouse opened in December 1995 the national press called it "warm... welcoming... a cause for celebration... a great new space..." It is an excellent building with pleasant front of house facilities and good disabled access. Excellent acoustics, sightlines and legroom all create a friendly relationship between audience and performers.

January 2000 saw the start of a new life as a receiving house, and since November 2003, the Playhouse has been in a merged management agreement with the Norwich Theatre Royal, a very positive step for both establishments. Branding and programming are kept separate but all employed at the Playhouse are now Theatre Royal employees and the Playhouse Board no longer has day to day responsibility for the Playhouse, as that now lies with the Theatre Royal Trustees.