Theatre announces key appointment

The Dukes' new artistic director Sarah Punshon
The Dukes' new artistic director Sarah Punshon

The Dukes has announced the venue's new artistic director will be Sarah Punshon.

She will join The Dukes in late Spring 2017 and take charge of its artistic programme from 2018.

Sarah trained as a director at the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), and on the Channel 4 Theatre Directors Scheme at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Extensive freelance theatre directing includes new writing and contemporary classics for the Watermill Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse, Theatre by the Lake and the New Vic Theatre, among others.

Sarah was a 2010/11 Clore Leadership Fellow, which led to her curating a programme of arts-science events at the Natural History Museum, London.

She is an active member of The Fence, an international network of playwrights and those who make play writing happen; a Trustee of New Writing North; and a selector for the National Student Drama Festival.

Upon her appointment Sarah said: “I'm thrilled to be asked to be The Dukes' next artistic director.

The Dukes has a proud history of innovation and a refusal to acknowledge boundaries: a producing theatre which is also an independent cinema; a professional theatre which puts learning and participation centre-stage; a building-based company which annually creates spectacular outdoor shows.

I look forward to building on The Dukes' existing successes to expand its reach: forging relationships with arts organisations throughout the UK, bringing in new voices, and nurturing emerging theatre-makers and audiences in Lancaster, the North West and beyond.”

Gary Rycroft, chair of trustees at The Dukes said: “Sarah impressed the board with her passion, vision and commitment.

She was an exceptional candidate in a very strong field and I know she will be an exceptional artistic director too, carrying forward our reputation for award-winning and engaging theatre”.

Ivan Wadeson, The Dukes Executive Director, said: “I am delighted Sarah is joining us - she will be a huge asset.

Sarah has a strong record of creating exciting, successful theatre in all kinds of spaces, from regional main houses to site-specific shows.

She is a great match for The Dukes, with expertise in innovative collaborations, including academic partnerships, and a proven passion for engaging audiences.”

Ian Tabbron of Arts Council England said: "Arts Council England is delighted that The Dukes has made such an exciting appointment. These are promising times for the development of the arts in Lancaster and Morecambe and it is great news that Sarah will be in post to contribute to this. "