Malcolm Knight has been collecting masks and puppets from around the world since 1977. He has amassed a unique range of objects, books, works on paper plus tools and equipment. From an early training in amateur drama and operetta to performances in Shakespeare, he was an undergraduate in Drama and English Literature at the University of Hull in 1973.
Between 1973 and 1975 he did postgraduate M.Litt research into the mask in modern drama at the University of Glasgow while simultaneously directing The Fellow Travellers Theatre Group. During this time he began his exploration of Commedia dell’Arte and throughout the seventies travelled backwards and forwards to Italy.
During 1975-77 he was a Temporary Lecturer in Drama at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham. After a move to London he was awarded the first UK bursary to train as a professional puppeteer with Playboard Puppet Theatre by the Arts Council of England and also commissioned by John McGrath of 7:84 Theatre Company to make the masks for Trembling Giant at the Royal Court Theatre.
Malcolm knight: Puppeteer & Mask Man
In Italy, he met with Dario Fo and Donato Sartori and later going on to train with actor Carlo Boso and mask maker Stefano Perroco. In the eighties, he studied Balinese Topeng with I Nyomen Wenten and in the nineties, he became a student of Japanese Noh Theatre mask-making under Hisao “Nohzin” Suzuki from Kobe. In 1991 he directed a puppet adaptation of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the Rostov State Puppet Theatre in Russia; and in 1999 he was a lead actor-singer in The Tragical History of Jackson Pollock: Abstract Expressionist at the Zoumboulakis Galleries in Athens.
Prior to this, he had already founded The Garret Mask & Puppet Centre Trust in Glasgow in 1981 which became a registered charity in 1985 and started to trade as Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre in 1989 after moving into new premises at Balcarres Avenue. Since that time he has travelled around the world giving lectures, workshops, demonstrations and directing shows in Europe, the USA, Latin America and Russia. In 2005 he completed his PhD in Mask Praxis: Theories and Practices of The Mask in Modern Drama at the University of Glasgow.
His collection materials include Topeng masks, Noh masks, Commedia masks, African masks, Nepalese masks, Mexican masks with attendant archive files on each tradition. His puppet collections include the David Jarmin Marionettes, the Vincent Shackleton Punch & Judy Show, the Harry Vernon Punch & Judy Figures, the Thomas Milne Javanese Collection and the Dr. Ian Morrison Collection.
& PUPPET CENTRE
The Sunday Herald Interview
with Dr Malcolm Knight
Writer: Susan Swarbrick
Photographer: Kirsty Anderson