Perth Theatre’s Artistic Director, Lu Kemp will move on in April 2023 to pursue new opportunities after seven successful years in the role.
Joining the organisation in 2016 as the restoration and redevelopment of Perth Theatre neared completion, Lu launched the theatre’s reopening season with the hugely successful pantomime Aladdin, and critically acclaimed versions of David Harrower’s modern Scottish classic Knives in Hens and Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Lu has played a leading role in Perth Theatre’s recognition as a theatre that “consistently punches above its weight creatively” (The Stage), and “a centre of creative excellence and imagination” (The List). Her mission to celebrate living Scottish writers and adapt classic plays and novels in a fresh and accessible way led to the enormously successful adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest in 2020 starring the much-loved comedian Karen Dunbar, as well as DON QUIXOTE – Man of Clackmannanshire, the 5-star co-production with Dundee Rep currently running at Perth Theatre.
Throughout her tenure, Lu has championed the theatre’s position as a local community asset, making work in partnership with local communities, and supporting the work of local artists. She magnified the many voices of Perthshire through the creation of Six Inches of Topsoil and the Fact it Rains in 2018, made through conversations with local farmers and this summer’s Oh When The Saints, produced in collaboration with St Johnstone FC and developed in conversation with fans and pundits.
Lu was at the forefront of Perth Theatre’s efforts to stay connected with audiences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The award-winning Perth Theatre Gig on A Truck toured initially to care home car parks and gardens, then ultimately to village halls and greens as restrictions eased. She worked with director and writer Barrie Hunter to create the theatre’s pioneering interactive Zoom pantomime Oh Yes We Are! A Quest for Long Lost Light And Laughter in 2020 which reached audiences across the world. Along with her fellow Creative Directors at Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre, she also created the Keep Going Together blog, providing bite sized moments of culture on a daily basis while the venues were closed.
Lu has instigated the successful programme of work for children and families both in schools and at the theatre, including an annual Christmas show for very young audiences. Most recently, I Am Tiger, developed in collaboration with Imaginate and Lighthouse Perth won the Best Production for Children and Young People at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) 2022.
Lu, who will stay in post until April 2023 said:
“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved since we reopened. I’ve been lucky to work with an amazing group of people at Perth Theatre, including the talented and dedicated creative and production teams. I applaud them for their dedication and commitment to making it happen and placing audiences at the centre of everything they do. There is so much that has been joyful during my time here, particularly the work made in partnership with, and for, the local community. The sight of a group of care home staff dancing with residents on our first outing of Gig on a Truck after Covid is all the reason I ever need to celebrate and fight for everyone’s right to access the arts.”
Nick Williams, Chief Executive of Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre said:
“Lu spearheaded the successful reopening of the restored and redeveloped theatre and has brought her passion for engaging with audiences, communities and artists to everything that she has done. There are many unique and unforgettable moments to celebrate, from award-winning productions such as I Am Tiger, to joyous community gatherings like Oh When The Saints. Throughout the challenging COVID-19 times, her determination to stay connected with audiences resulted in some incredibly innovative initiatives that made a huge difference to our communities, and we look forward to building on her legacy as we move forward. She will be much missed by the team, and we wish her all the best for the future.”