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Keeping Afloat: An adventure on a river barge that became a theatre

By Middleton & Rogers

“The Movingstage Marionette Company has broken through into a strange new world with ‘The Ancient Mariner,’ appropriately presented in the Puppet Theatre Barge – an old barge which Juliet and Gren Middleton transformed into a puppet theatre.” Fernau Hall, Daily Telegraph

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Gren Middleton and Juliet Rogers joined forces to set up Movingstage Marionette Company in 1978, their aim being to produce and promote marionette drama. After 4 years of touring they realised that a venue for presenting their productions without compromise was needed. This is the story of how they found and converted an old Thames barge into a 55-seat theatre and the years that followed. Despite silted up canals, powerful tides, unbending bureaucracy, suspicious local authorities, early mobile phone systems, and much more, the theatre is still playing to full houses.
Now an established venue on the London theatre scene the barge is based in Little Venice, London. Each year the floating theatre ups anchor and moves to Richmond-on-Thames for a summer season. It has now been open for over 3 decades and during that time has hosted thousands of performances. The Puppet Barge is now run by 3 generations of the family.

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