The new Studio in the transformed Perth Theatre has been named in honour of Joan Knight, a past artistic director of the 117-year-old venue.

Joan Knight, who was artistic director of Perth Theatre from 1968 to 1993, was renowned as a champion for young talent and new playwriting. This commitment will be reflected in the Joan Knight New Commission Fund which will be set up to invest in emerging talent with the Joan Knight Studio as its stage. Donations to the fund are being invited from members of the public.

The driving force behind the creation of the Fund and the naming of the Studio are two former close colleagues of Joan Knight.

Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, who was the first general manager of Perth Theatre from 1976 to 1982 said:

“Joan Knight believed in nurturing new talent, and growing existing talent. She would give new and established actors opportunities to develop their skills, she commissioned and employed  new writers, designers and directors many of whom went on to run major theatre companies and direct productions across the UK and internationally. This commitment provides the foundation on which the Joan Knight New Commission Fund will be established. Its aim will be to invest in emerging talent – in the people of today who will bring new ideas and energy to the theatre with the opportunity to work with the remarkable current artistic team at Perth Theatre, headed by Lu Kemp. Yesterday and today will combine to create a bright and theatrically rich tomorrow.

Patrick Sandford who worked at Perth Theatre in the 1980s as trainee, associate director and then director said:

“Looking back it is important to acknowledge that audiences change and the theatre always needs new approaches. The past is interesting and should be honoured and examined, but the nostalgic notion of a Golden Age is misleading. The Golden Age for Perth Theatre is now. Joan would be thrilled to have a new studio space and to think that living writers were having their work done in it, by enterprising directors and actors.”

Gwilym Gibbons, CEO Horsecross Arts | Lu Kemp, Artistic Director – Perth Theatre

Lu Kemp, artistic director for Perth Theatre said:

“For the past three decades, Scotland has been a beacon for new writing – the work of Scottish playwrights is performed all over the world. I look forward to honouring Joan Knight’s legacy, and following my own personal commitment, by developing and supporting new talent at Perth Theatre. The flexibility of the new Studio is an inspiration, and will enable artists to create relevant exciting work for audiences today. I urge the people of Perth to get behind this fantastic initiative.”

Cllr Ian Campbell, Leader of Perth & Kinross Council, project partners on the Perth Theatre transformation said:

“It’s fantastic to see the Studio at Perth Theatre being named after Joan Knight. As a pivotal figure in the history of the Theatre, Joan really cemented Perth’s reputation for culture. It is entirely fitting that the Studio, which will open up theatre to whole new audience, bears her name.

 

The doors to the restored and redeveloped Perth Theatre will open on Monday 13 November when the public will be able to access Box Office and the Theatre Café and Bar. Funding for the £16.6m project has been pledged from project partners Perth & Kinross Council, Creative Scotland, The Gannochy Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, other trusts and foundations, individual donations and other supporters and funding bodies

The first production in the restored Edwardian auditorium is Perth Theatre’s homecoming pantomime Aladdin from Saturday 9 December until Saturday 6 January. For tickets and info about Perth Theatre’s reopening programme visit www.horsecross.co.uk call Box Office on 01738 621031.

For further information on how to donate to the Joan Knight New Commission Fund and be invited to related fundraising events, contact Horsecross Arts Development team on 01738 472731 or email development@horsecross.co.uk.