Pauline Knowles remembered

May 30 2019 | By More

Scholarship fund launch at unique Knives in Hens performance

A unique concert reading of Knives In Hens is to be staged at the Lyceum as a memorial to Pauline Knowles and an opening fundraiser for a new scholarship fund in her memory.

Knowles, who died suddenly in 2018, originated the role of the Young Woman in the play’s first production at the Traverse in 1995. The reading will see 25 different actresses sharing the role in varying combinations and accumulations.

Pauline Knowles in the original production of Knives in Hens. Pic: The Traverse Theatre

Set in a pre-industrial and God-fearing rural community, David Harrower’s haunting debut play tells the story of a young woman’s solitary quest for learning – as the world around her begins to shift towards a new industrial age.

The Young Woman is tethered to her ploughman husband, Pony William, and taught to despise the village miller, Gilbert Horn. She strives to find escape and liberation through language and articulate her long-suppressed feelings against an unforgiving and oppressive landscape.

Knives in Hens is regarded as modern Scottish classic. The original Traverse production toured Scotland before transferring to the Bush Theatre, London. Since then, the play has been produced on every continent and translated into more than twenty-five languages.

The evening is produced by new Edinburgh company Pearlfisher, headed by director Philip Howard, who directed the original production. He will be joined by the original members of the cast, Lewis Howden as Pony William and Michael Nardone as Gilbert Horn.

Martyn Bennett

Music for the 1995 production was created and performed by the late Martyn Bennett. His mother, Margaret, will be one of the actresses performing, while the production will include live performance of the Mr McFall’s Chamber arrangements of his music.

These arrangements, created from sketches for the original music passed on after Bennett’s death in 2005, were originally released on a CD, Birds and Beasts. This production will be the first time that they have been used in a staging of the play itself.

Pauline Knowles as Clytemnestra in This Restless House. Pic: Tim Morozzo

Philip Howard said: “I worked with Pauline probably more than any other actor in Scotland and her loss is immeasurable.

“We wanted to find a way of paying tribute specifically to her working life and brilliance, and it seemed fitting to memorialise the performance which defined her early career, in David Harrower’s Knives in Hens, by having a huge gathering of friends and admirers sharing the role in a never-to-be-repeated version of the play.”

As well as Margaret Bennett, the 25 women playing the Young Woman role range from RCS students Shyvonne Ahmmad and Natalie Mitson, to celebrated Scottish actresses including Sally Reid, Gabriel Quigley and Nicola Roy.

Pauline Knowles Scholarship Fund

All proceeds from tickets sales and all donations on the night will go directly to newly formed Pauline Knowles Scholarship Fund, which has been set up by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Pearlfisher and David Harrower.

The aim is to endow a fund in perpetuity to support a Scottish or Scotland-based BA Acting student throughout their training at the Conservatoire and help relieve the burden of the expenses of a Higher Education degree.

Howard added: “Pauline had strong views about applicants to drama school finding it much more challenging financially if they didn’t come from a background of privilege. Her Fund is a small attempt to address this within Scotland.”

Information on donating to the Pauline Knowles Scholarship Fund is available at:


Knives in Hens
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX Box Office: 0131 248 4848
Tuesday 11 June 2018
One performance: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.


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