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Fresh start for Yvonne Arnaud Theatre as new head takes over

3 minute read
Fresh start for Yvonne Arnaud Theatre as new head takes over

Published at 6:08am 14th January 2019. (Updated at 6:42am 14th January 2019)

Making its mark in Guildford and beyond...that is the aim of the new head of the Yvonne Arnaud theatre in Guildford.

Former Surrey resident Joanna Read has been speaking to the Breakfast Show's Peter Gordon a week after taking on the role of Chief Executive and Theatre Director.

The former Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Salisbury Playhouse, and Principal of The London Academy of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) told Eagle of her passion for regional theatre:

"One of the real attractions about coming here was knowing there is an appetite for theatre in this town and in the country."

“The Yvonne Arnaud is held in very high esteem in the profession and there is a fantastic opportunity here to work as a team to bring a little bit of fresh life to the place.  I’m chomping at the bit to get going, I really am.”

Joanna is familiar with the Yvonne Arnaud, having worked with the theatre while running Salisbury Playhouse:

“I brought work, such as Jamaica Inn and Playing for Time, here on tour when I was at Salisbury, and we co-produced with the Yvonne Arnaud, so my own work has already been on the stage.  In that way, it does feel a bit like coming home."  

One of her goals is to develop the theatre's own work and get involved in co-productions:

“I’m keen to develop making our own work.  I think it’s terrific that we make our own pantomime and I think we’re going to do a few of our own co-productions, generated by us as the makers and the producer of the work.

 “The Yvonne Arnaud is known amongst actors and within the industry as a great place to open a tour.  Actors love it because we’re so close to London, they receive a friendly welcome from the Theatre team and they enjoy our audiences, so we need to capitalise on that. 

“I’m interested in building up some of our straight drama and comedy drama audiences, because I think that’s got legs for touring.  I also want to make sure we’re offering more interesting and diverse productions here.  And I’m excited to work with the Youth Theatre too.”

Joanna admitted she faced challenges, such as funding:

“This is the first time I’ve worked in a venue that hasn’t had Arts Council funding, so the commercial ask here is much tougher. 

"It’s invaluable that this Theatre has its support from Guildford Borough Council, and to come into this role knowing that the Council recognises how vital theatre is to the local economy and how much we can give back to the community is tremendous."  

Joanna Read Yvonne Arnaud

Listen to the full interview here:


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