6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Karen Simpson on the future of Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal

14:14 19 November 2013

Karen Simpson is the new Executive Director of The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Karen Simpson is the new Executive Director of The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds.

Archant

Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal has been through some turbulent times in recent months. Karen Simpson is in the process of taking over as chief executive Andrew Clarke spoke to her about her vision for the future

Karen Simpson is a theatre-maker who knows what she wants. Coming from the world of touring theatre and from children’s theatre she understands that a show has to capture the imagination of the audience if it is to survive.

She has just arrived at Bury Theatre Royal as the Regency playhouse’s new chief executive and says that her first job is to give the organisation a new sense of purpose.

She says that the theatre will continue to acknowledge its historical legacy but will now focus much more on delivering the very best contemporary theatre.

“Theatre is not a museum. It’s about putting on plays which engage with audiences and reflect the times in which we live. But, the Theatre Royal is special because the building provides a direct link to the roots of modern theatre and we will continue to acknowledge that.

Karen comes to the Theatre Royal from Oxfordshire Theatre Company and has 30 years experience of directing plays.

“I have a background in new writing and young people’s work. But I have always resisted being pigeon-holed. I embrace all types of theatre.”

She moved to Sheffield to work at The Crucible in 2000 staying for six years before moving to Oxford. She said that the Oxfordshire Theatre Company toured across the country staging shows in a similar style to Eastern Angles.

“A lot of my work has been about making theatre accessible – encouraging children and families to come along. Getting people to come to the theatre who hadn’t been before and making theatre part of their lives and I found that very exciting.”

She said that the key element to making theatre accessible to new audiences was >>

>> From previous page

making the building welcoming and she wants to continue the good work that already goes on at Bury and take it further.

“It can be quite daunting to go into any building that you don’t know – more so a theatre if you are not particularly comfortable with the surroundings and you think you don’t know how to behave or what you are supposed to do.

“So it is vitally important to know how you are going to introduce theatre to people. Of course parents and schools are really important. Schools are the great equal opportunities provider because it’s a comfortable, secure way to first walk in through our doors and how most people first encounter the thing they love whether it’s theatre, books or sport.

“For me the youthful audience is really important and it always has been. I’ll be looking at programming a very strong family programme throughout the year and a programme that schools can engage with.”

However she stressed that it would not be at the expense of general audiences and the programme would be designed to appeal to all ages but there would be more emphasis of family shows rather than adult-only drama.

“We won’t be programming children’s shows as such but plays which people of different ages can engage with and take away something different. A family covers many generations.

“I think it is vitally important to grow the next generation of theatre-goers if we are not going to lose this building and others like it.”

One of the main challenges she has set herself is to entice the huge pantomime audience to come and enjoy other work throughout the year.

“If they love theatre in the pantomime season, I want to show them that there are plenty of other shows that they will enjoy at other times of the year. I don’t see any reason why you can’t bring that volume of people to a whole string of other work throughout the year.

“One of my first tasks will be to join those dots up a little bit.”

She added that she remains committed to the Theatre Royal continuing to produce its own work as well as taking the very best touring productions.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Garden designer, Janey Auchincloss is pictured in Lavenham.

Gina Long talks to the presenter of Britain’s Best Back Gardens

Read more
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Julia Jones and her boat Peter duck

Julia Jones is the modern author most closely associated with the ever-changing and evocative land and seascapes of East Anglia. Paul Simon talked to her about her love affair with the coast

Read more
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Rosy Thornton

Lawyer Rosy Thornton unleashed her imagination and found herself writing fiction. Catherine Larner talked to her about her latest volume of short stories – to be launched in Woodbridge – inspired by the countryside around her Blaxhall home

Read more
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Annie Averdieck, Whats in my bag.

Amy Gallivan takes a peek inside the bag of the owner of Bathsheba Spa in Woodbridge

Read more
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
What's in my bag feature for Suffolk Magazine. Karine Canevet from Maison Bleue.

Amy Gallivan takes a peak into the handbag of Brittany born Karine Canevet joint owner of renowned French modern restaurant Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds

Read more
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
John Fowler at Tools With A Mission.

An industrial estate in Ipswich is the hub of a charity sending recycled tools and equipment to communities in Africa. Georgie Russell meets the people behind Tools With a Mission

Read more
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Michael Oakley

Sir Trevor Nunn is not the only Ipswich-born theatre director returning home this summer. His assistant director Michael Oakley is also an Ipswich native and a former member of the Wolsey’s Young Company. Andrew Clarke spoke to him about being theatre’s new rising star

Read more
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Rose Tremain

Catherine Larner talks to headline authors appearing at Felixstowe Book Festival. East Anglia-based Rose Tremain has just published her latest novel, the Gustav Sonata

Read more
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Jim Parsons making chairs in his workshop.

Tessa Allingham watches a master craftsman at work

Read more
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Dan Hills is pictured at Paddy and Scott's in Bury.

Tat Dan, of Bury St Edmunds, was into body art long before his days as a barista. Words: Tessa Allingham Photography: Phil Morley

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Suffolk's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search