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Bridport: Duo aim to breathe new life into Lyric Theatre
Bridport’s Lyric Theatre could soon be putting on shows again.
The long-derelict building in Barrack Street has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a local drama group.
Niki Cretton and Marc Parrett – co-directors of Stuff and Nonsense – hope to restore it to its former glory with the help of volunteers.
They plan to create an artists-led space where people can make and present their work.
Niki said: “We’re delighted that we’ve managed to buy this historic and much-loved building and that we can now start trying to put it back together.
“We think it could be a unique place in the town and could complement the work at the Arts Centre and the Electric Palace.
“Our aim is not to be a venue in the traditional sense but a more flexible place which is full of surprises.
“We love the flock wallpaper and the feeling that anything could happen here.”
Marc said:: “We know there is the demand from creative people to have somewhere like the Lyric to create and show their work which could be anything from the best new puppetry to physical comedy to new dance pieces.
“We would also like to put on shows for families in the summer and to offer puppet workshops with a twist.”
The pair admit there is a huge amount of work to do to restore the building but together with a small team of volunteers they say they are passionate about bringing the Lyric back into the heart of Bridport life.
Niki Cretton and Marc Parrett had been looking for somewhere local to make and rehearse their unique brand of puppet shows for some time.
Although Marc had a studio at St Michael’s Trading Estate it was becoming increasingly cramped – not surprising as his puppets include an enormous turnip and 8ft tall bear.
Niki and Marc also harboured a dream to find a space where other artists, performers and the public – especially children – could have the chance to make and experience shows of their own.
They became increasingly excited about the possibilities the Lyric could offer and, on the back of their commercially successful touring shows they managed to persuaded Lloyds Bank to lend them the money they needed to put in an offer.
Added Marc: We love the spirit of the place. It is such a special venue and a really important part of Bridport’s history and culture.”
THE Lyric was built as an independent chapel in 1746. In the 19th century it became a Temperance Hall and a Liberal Hall.
It became the Palace Cinema in 1912 before the movie house was relocated to its present building in South Street in 1926.
The Lyric was listed in 1950 and closed in 1960. It later became the Bernard gale School of Dancing.
The debate over what should happen to it has raged since it closed following some years ago.
Last year developers tried unsuccessfully to get planning permission to turn it into flats. Planners ruled it should remain a community facility.
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