Introducing Marlowe Theatre…

The Marlowe Theatre was built in 2011 in the centre of the beautiful cathedral city of Canterbury, with a 1,160-seater main house and 160-seater flexible studio, plus an 800-year old former Priests Hospital which is home to our youth theatre, creative programmes, an exhibition and an escape room.

We are a self-funding charity, combining commercial acumen with a mission to bring great art into the lives of our audiences, to nurture regional talent, celebrate the creativity of our local communities and inspire the next generation.

As a presenting theatre, we attract some of the biggest musicals and touring drama, dance, music opera and comedy, including regular visits from Glyndebourne, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Last year we presented 619 performances to an audience of 407,894. Our local economic impact was in excess of £40 million.

Our Change Creation Plan

In December 2018 The Marlowe became an independent charitable trust. The opportunities this opens up for us are considerable, as we are now able to invest in our own future. We are on a mission to re-define what a regional theatre can be in the 21st Century, blurring the lines between commercial/subsidised theatre and the producing/receiving model and investing in our artistic and social purpose. We joined the Creative Change programme late but have hit the ground running, using it to help us define who we are as an organisation, to examine the changes we need to make to our internal culture and to articulate it to our audiences, participants and external stakeholders.

Deborah Shaw

Deborah Shaw was appointed as the first Chief Executive of the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury in September 2018.

She has worked as a director and producer in regional, national and international theatre for over 25 years, including 8 years as Associate Director with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she directed the World Shakespeare Festival for London2012, commissioning work from across the world and collaborating with 30 UK theatre companies, festivals and venues.

More recently, she spent 5 years in heritage as Creative Director at Historic Royal Palaces, leading a strategic initiative to commission artists to respond to the stories of six royal palaces. Highlights included turning the moat of the Tower of London into a contemporary art space for epic-scale public art, from the Sky/South Bank Award-winning Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red in 2014, to East Wall, a ground-breaking collaboration with Hofesh Shechter Company, East London Dance and LIFT in 2018.

She holds an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes for services to theatre and was named one of the UK’s ten most influential creatives in Art and Design in the H-100 Awards 2015. She is pro-bono Executive Producer – and only non-Iraqi founder-member – of the Iraqi Theatre Company, based in Baghdad.

Paula Gillespie

Paula Gillespie has worked with The Marlowe since 2008 and is now Chief Operating Officer. She worked on the design and build of the new theatre, developing the business and more recently, leading the change from council management to becoming a charitable trust. She is now focussed on developing a sustainable model for a resilient, creative regional theatre, strong enough to withstand future challenges.

Previous roles include Executive Producer for Belgian production company In The Wings touring dance theatre productions in Europe and the US, Programming Manager for Sadler’s Wells and General Manager of The Peacock Theatre.