Posts

Kwame Kwei-Armah announced as the new Artistic Director of Young Vic Theatre

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame Kwei-Armah

The Young Vic has announced that Kwame Kwei-Armah will become the new Artistic Director in February 2018.

Kwame Kwei-Armah is an award-winning director and playwright and the outgoing Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage where he directed extensively. Directing credits also include New York’s Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Repertory Theatre. His production of One Night in Miami at the Donmar Warehouse was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play.

His works as playwright include One Love (Birmingham Rep), Marley, Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Center Stage), Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, Statement of Regret (National Theatre) and Let There Be Love and Seize the Day (Tricycle Theatre). Kwame was the Chancellor of the University of the Arts London from 2010-15, and in 2012 was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama.

Kwame will succeed David Lan further to the announcement that he would be stepping down in 2018 after 18 years in the role. Kwame will announce his first season of work as Artistic Director in the new year.

Kwame Kwei-Armah says: “To walk into the Young Vic is to come face to face with everything I love about theatre, so I am beyond humbled, if not a little scared. But to lead this magnificent theatre at this time in our nation’s history, after such a visionary as David, excites me beyond words. I can’t wait to get started.”

Patrick McKenna, Chair of the Board, says: “After meeting Kwame the panel was unanimous in its decision to appoint him as the next leader for this remarkable institution. Kwame’s wealth of experience directing, writing and working with the local community in Baltimore and beyond will translate beautifully to his new role leading the work on the Young Vic’s three stages as well as its pioneering outreach and education work in London.”

David Lan, outgoing Artistic Director, says: “The choice the panel has made is inspired. I welcome it wholeheartedly and will do whatever I can to support Kwame in the early days as he finds his own distinctive way to keep the Young Vic one of the great producing theatres of this country and the world.”

More about Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame Kwei-Armah, born in 1967, is the outgoing Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage where he has directed: Jazz, Marley, One Night in Miami, Amadeus, Dance of the holy ghosts, The Mountaintop; An Enemy of the People, The Whipping Man and Things of Dry Hours. Other work as a director includes: Twelve Night, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Detroit’67 (Public Theatre, New York), The Liquid Plain (Signature Theatre, New York and Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Porgy and Bess (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) the Olivier Nominated One night in Miami for Best New Play 2016 (Donmar Warehouse) and One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre).

As a playwright his credits include One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre), Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Center Stage) Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, Statement of Regret (National Theatre) Let There Be Love and Seize the Day(Tricycle Theatre).

Kwame was Artistic Director for the Festival of Black arts and Culture, Senegal, in 2010. He conceived and directed the opening ceremony at Senghor National stadium. He is an Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse and has served on the boards of the National Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, and Theatre Communications Group. Kwame was the Chancellor of the University of the Arts London from 2010 to 2015, and in 2012 was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama.

In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Kwame was named Best Director in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore Awards and in 2015 was nominated for the prestigious Stage Directors and Choreographers Zelda Fichandler Award for Best Regional Artistic Director. In 2016 he was awarded the Urban Visionary Award alongside House Representative Elijah Cummings by the Center for Urban Families for his work in the Baltimore community.

,

Casting announced for Benedict Andrews’ Young Vic Production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

,

Sam Hodges: “New work doesn’t always succeed – but it is critical as it’s the way that theatre has to respond in a fresh way to what is happening today.”

Sam Hodges founded HighTide Festival Theatre in 2006. Fast forward to 2014 Sam Hodges took over as the artistic and executive director of the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton.

In 2016, Nuffield is at an exciting time of transition. Under the leadership of Sam Hodges it has been reinvigorated as a producing theatre company for Southampton and last year won The Stage award for Best Regional Theatre. He himself has just been nominated Best Director at UK Theatre Awards.

Later this year Nuffield will open a second venue in Studio 144 – Southampton’s new £25M city centre arts venue. Champagne all round!

Dedication is a new play that tells the story of Shakespeare and the 3rd Earl of Southampton. What exactly did happen between them? A powder keg of sex, power and politics in Elizabethan England.

On the eve of press night he discusses life lessons, Southampton as a cultural hub and bringing Shakespeare magic to the stage…

Samuel Hodges

Sam Hodges

Hello Sam, first things first: can you tell us all about Studio 144
Studio 144 will be a stunning new venue at the heart of Southampton’s thriving cultural quarter. It will be our new home and  will include a flexible 447 seat main house theatre, a 135 seat studio, screening facilities, rehearsal and workshop spaces, a café bar and bistro.
This new venue will transform Nuffield’s ability to show new and exciting high quality professional work from local, national and international artists, built on the foundations of our commitment to extensive and accessible artist development and community engagement. It will also allow us to develop our programme to include dance, film and music.  As you can imagine this is a very exciting time for us, but also a great challenge.
We’re going to be running two venues, the new city centre venue at Studio 144 and our existing theatre on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus so we are working hard to make sure that our programme can offer something for everyone. We want our audiences to feel at home in both our buildings and we have big ambitions as to how we want to achieve that.

Dedication

Dedication. Click on the image to book your tickets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can audiences expect from DEDICATION
A political thriller about what might have been. Sword fights, Elizabethan dancing, and a complete transformation of the auditorium into a space as you’ve never seen it before. We’re ‘casting’ the audience as the jury in a trial in which Shakespeare is being interrogated about his links to Southampton. It’s part love story, part adventure, part thriller.

Do you prefer the high level strategy director stuff or hands on stripped to the waist rehearsal room directing stuff? 
I love design – and am very much aesthetic led so I love those conversations about how the overall vision will look. But as a former actor, I do enjoy the process of developing the piece in the room as well – there’s nothing that beats an actor’s instincts and viewpoint as you shape a new play.

DEDICATION is an ambitious project. What have been the biggest challenges getting this off the ground? 
Probably the transformation of the auditorium and scale and intricacy of the set. There are literally loads of moving parts – and combined with the challenge of developing a new play, which relies entirely on an audience to truly test, we’ve had our hands full.

It would appear that audiences in Southampton are spoilt for choice for a good night out (The Mayflower, Nuffield, Stage Door) is this the case?
Completely the case although I think happily each venue offers quite a different flavour to Southampton. The Mayflower is obviously synonymous with big touring musicals, which it does very well, and it has started to do a bit of dance more recently. The Stage Door taps into that late-night cabaret feel – I’m a particular fan of their adult pantomime at Christmas! And then our focus is on drama and comedy – so something for everyone.

I noted with interest that you recently celebrated being Director at The Nuffield for three years. How would you describe your tenure? 
Extremely busy but very satisfying. I feel like we’ve achieved what we set out to do in this time which was to make Nuffield one of the national players, in terms of producing work. We have just announced our second London transfer in as many years, a UK national  commercial tour and we’ve been Regional Theatre of the Year,  – all big steps for the theatre. One of the most fulfilling parts of the job has been building a brilliant team around me – which makes the day-to-day a real pleasure. And having got to this point, the next three years are obviously going to be very focused on the new venue, which we feel ready for.

What is your favourite theatre in London? 
The Young Vic Theatre. It’s my kind of theatre. It mixes a strong European aesthetic with great British storytelling – a blend of what makes both traditions so unique. Yerma was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned in the past 12 months?
To make sure I do enough living outside of work to ensure that my work has something to be inspired by.

Is there anything that you’d like to add? 
The reason I commissioned this play is that I believe passionately in creating new work that aims to support Southampton in ‘telling its own story’. New work doesn’t always succeed – but it is critical as it’s the way that theatre has to respond in a fresh way to what is happening today. I’m not interested in just mounting a period historical piece – it’s only worth looking back to see what it says about today. I hope that Dedication can be Southampton’s contribution, not only to Shakespeare400, but to the wider catalogue of Shakespearean work. On a larger scale, though, I hope it also asks questions about the way that we mould history to our shape – that we think of it as a fixed point, whereas in fact it is only what is written down that lasts.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUT TICKETS FOR DEDICATION

Checkout the production images of Dedication