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Children’s puppet theatre to open in former Hampstead pottery studio

Zina Drouche's play Petit Pierre from Paris
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A former pottery in north London is to be transformed into a children’s puppet theatre and bookshop after plans for the scheme were green-lit by councillors.

The Hampstead building, which had been home to the Well Walk pottery studio for more than 50 years before it closed earlier this year, has been sold to French husband-and-wife duo, film director Dylan McNeill and costume designer Zina Drouche, who plan to open a children’s performance space in the basement.

The 50-seater Well Walk Theatre will host visiting puppetry and children’s productions, while the ground-floor space will become a children’s bookshop and cafe.

It is hoped the business will also run puppetry workshops and art classes, as well as a children’s cinema club.

McNeil said the pair had been searching for a permanent children’s puppetry venue after staging shows at a nearby shop in Hampstead which had recently closed.

He described the former pottery as being “full of charm and poetry” ad “the perfect location” for a children’s theatre.

He said shows would be staged mostly on weekends and in school holidays in the first instance, with the cafe and bookshop open during the week for parents and children after school.

Camden council has now granted planning permission to the proposals, and roughly 12 months of work will now commence before a planned opening in 2020.

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