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Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center's First-Ever Artistic Director To Launch New Theatre Program In Chester County 

Uptown! will make institutional history by debuting its first fully-produced theatre season, as well as expanding its music, dance, comedy and film programming. 

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center's First-Ever Artistic Director To Launch New Theatre Program In Chester County 

Curtains up in Chester County and the Philadelphia suburbs! The Board of Directors of Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester, PA announces the appointment of Carmen Khan as the organization's first-ever Artistic Director. With Khan at the artistic helm, Uptown! will make institutional history by debuting its first fully-produced theatre season, as well as expanding its music, dance, comedy and film programming.

Khan comes to Uptown! at an exciting time of transformation and growth as the organization builds to realize its mission of becoming one of the region's premiere performing arts centers. Khan is a West Chester local, well-known on the regional theatre scene and she brings deep knowledge and vision as the Founder and former Artistic/Executive Director of Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. With Khan's distinct experience, Uptown! is poised to become Chester County's most exciting new destination for theatre and other performing arts. The 2022-2023 season will be announced later this summer, with the first show hitting the stage this fall. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center is located at 226 N. High Street. For more about Uptown!, Khan and future performances, visit https://uptownwestchester.org/.

"Uptown! wants to present the best in entertainment," said Board Chair Molly Morrison. "The core of our mission has been to provide a variety of entertainment that appeals broadly to our community. In looking at our mix of programming, theatre was the missing piece, and one we knew would be welcomed by our patrons. We decided that in order to do so, we needed an experienced professional on staff to not only allow us to produce our own theatre shows, but to curate and expand our music, dance, comedy, and other genres. We are thrilled to find someone in Carmen Khan who brought decades of experience in theatre and who is so well connected to the theatre community locally and elsewhere."

Khan brings the best of both worlds to her new position, with ties to the West Chester and Chester County community, as well as to the regional arts scene. She has lived in West Chester for 32 years and raised her family here. Khan lived in the borough while she founded and served as Artistic/Executive Director of the award-winning Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. Since she founded the company in 1996, she has directed/produced over sixty productions of Shakespeare's works. She also was the co-founder of The Laughing Stock Theatre, an all comedy theatre, and she was the Artistic Director of the Red Heel Theatre, which was devoted to the little known classics of the Jacobean age.

In addition to being a director, Khan is an actor and voice-over artist and has appeared in over forty theatrical productions. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of London, England, and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. Khan is the co-author of a new edition of Shakespeare's Macbeth, called "Macbeth Moment By Moment."

In this transformational role, Khan hopes to make Uptown! the center of a thriving community of performing artists. She hopes the venue will become a "town commons" for opportunities to expand our world view and challenge us to grow. Khan expressed what excites her about this new role and how she is up for the challenges that are ahead.

"We aspire to expand," said Khan. "We want our audience to leave every performance feeling the world is a little bigger place than when they came in; to expand the theatre's reach and relevance and influence in the community; to expand West Chester's sense of what is possible; what kind of a town we can be. I see Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center as a vibrant arts institution and a hub of community and culture for the region."

When talking about her background and her artistic journey to Uptown!, Khan reflected back to her days as a child, when she loved gathering groups of kids together and creating performances.

"I think there was always something within me that craved making something bigger to share with a community," said Khan. "I would collaborate with friends to choreograph dance pieces to perform, and that evolved into acting in plays, and then that led to finally forming my own theatre company. When I was approached to think about the role of Uptown! Artistic Director, I saw an opportunity to once again tell great stories right here in West Chester where I live and to share them with our community."

When asked about living and now working in West Chester, Khan replied, "I love how beautiful it is - the streets and the trees, we are surrounded by nature - but it is also a bustling town with a big university so you always feel connected to the stream of life, yet you can also find profound silence and peace. West Chester is also a very friendly place. We always have the sense that if something disastrous were to happen we could turn to neighbors and friends - like you could in the old days - think Bedford Falls!"

For her first few weeks and months in this new role, Khan is hard at work perfecting the first produced season of live theatre to debut on the West Chester stage this coming fall, winter and spring. Khan plans to unveil the three-show season later this summer. In the meantime, she already has begun working with the current artists at Uptown! on expanding and evolving the Center's music, comedy, dance and film program. . "We have a lot of exciting ideas in the works," Khan added, "and we can't wait to share these artists with our audiences."

While audiences wait, they can visit https://uptownwestchester.org/ for a list of coming shows and special events happening this summer.


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