Anthony Clark is to leave his position as Artistic Director of Hampstead theatre. He announced today that he will step down from the post, which he has held for seven years, at the end of the theatre’s 50th anniversary season in January 2010.
Hampstead theatre is to begin the recruitment of Clark’s successor over the summer.
Clark commented: “This has been a tough decision after a tough, but extremely rewarding seven years. As we approach the end of a year in which we are celebrating past achievements and looking to the future, I feel it is a good time to hand over to a new Artistic Director, leaving me free to pursue my own freelance interests as a director and writer. I am proud of the number of new plays we have produced in my time here, and of the diversity of their form and content.
“We have seen our core audience grow and remain loyal as well as developing a much wider audience for new writing. I have had the opportunity to produce the plays of some very exciting emerging writers, alongside those of more established playwrights. I am thrilled to have encouraged a Creative Learning programme that is seen as an integral part of the company but also serves the local community so effectively. Year on year audiences have increased and it is now time for someone else to focus the talents and energies of a wonderful staff to make sure audiences and participants get the most out of Hampstead for years to come.”
The announcement comes as Hampstead theatre reveals the autumn line-up for its Golden Anniversary season.
Among the productions taking to the Hampstead stage are the first revival of Philip Ridley’s edgy comedy The Fastest Clock In The Universe, which premiered at Hampstead in 1992, and the stage adaptation of Jasper Rees’s I Found My Horn, which toured successfully in 2008.
New writing is also central to Hampstead’s autumn season, with the third Daring Pairings festival showcasing five collaborations and including work from Hampstead’s writers on attachment, young company heat&light, Central School of Speech and Drama, The Factory and Nabokov theatre. While Daring Pairings 3 is presented in the Michael Frayn space, the debut play from Atiha Sen Gupta, What Fatima Did… is staged in the main house. Set in a secondary school after the summer holidays, it wittily explores the consequences of one girl’s decision to wear the Hijab.
As Clark’s reign comes to an end, he will direct the Christmas family show, Michael Punter’s ghost story Darker Shores, which is to star The League Of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss and Green Wing’s Julian Rhind-Tutt. For younger festive audiences, Darker Shores is joined by Charlie And Lola’s Best Bestest Play, a 2D and 3D play based on the hit BBC series and books by Lauren Child.
Clark commented: “Hampstead’s anniversary year has been a wonderful excuse to rummage through our archives and rediscover some of our hidden gems. We wish we could bring more of the vast back-catalogue back into the public eye, but the plays we have chosen to highlight represent the journey this remarkable theatre company has made over half a century.”
A handful of those plays Hampstead theatre was not able to fully stage are represented with rehearsed readings held throughout the autumn, among them Shelagh Stephenson’s An Experiment With An Air Pump, Simon Block’s Chimps, Alistair Beaton’s Feelgood and Dennis Kelly’s Osama The Hero.