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Playwrights and arts leaders rally behind Indhu Rubasingham in support of Kiln Theatre

Leading playwrights and arts figures including Dominic Cooke and Erica Whyman have rallied around Kiln artistic director Indhu Rubasingham, who has come under attack for changing the theatre’s name from the Tricycle.

Earlier this week, a letter was published in the Observer signed by people including Cameron Mackintosh Ltd managing director Nicholas Allott and former artistic director of the Tricycle, Nicholas Kent. It said the name change to the Kiln Theatre, which reopens this week, “throws away a valuable legacy and history”.

However, a letter to The Stage signed by artists including playwrights Richard Bean, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, April de Angelis and Tanika Gupta [1], states that they stand behind the venue’s “proposition that theatre is not here to fossilise culture, but to invigorate it”.

The letter, also signed by director Cooke, Royal Shakespeare Companydeputy artistic director Whyman, and Orange Tree Theatre artistic director Paul Miller, states: “We write to congratulate Indhu Rubasingham and everyone at Kiln Theatre – producers, creative learning team, administrators, box office, everyone – on the great achievement of transforming and reopening the building this week.”

It adds: “We fully acknowledge the rich and special history of the Tricycle… But we stand with Kiln and its proposition that theatre is not here to fossilise culture but to invigorate it. While honouring the past, it must also reach out to new audiences and artists, who will come to Kiln with fresh perspectives, ideas, energy. Theatre’s mutability is its strength.”

The letter is also signed by playwrights Simon Stephens, Roy Williams and Tanika Gupta, and designer Tom Piper.

Earlier this week, Imelda Staunton and husband Jim Carter showed their support for the venue in a jointly signed letter to the Guardian [2]: “The change of name of the Tricycle to Kiln theatre does not write the past work out of history. The reputation of that work is secure and stands permanently in people’s memories.”

They added: “This is the perfect time to change the name and to look forward to a great new adventure in a thrilling building that has a name that both looks forward and captures the creative spirit of the Brent community in which it sits.”