Dominic Cooke, Artistic Director of the Royal Court, is to step down from his role at the new writing powerhouse in April 2013.
His announcement comes at the same time as Kate Horton, Executive Director of the Sloane Square venue, has revealed that she will leave the company to join the National Theatre as Deputy Executive Director in spring 2012.
Cooke, who succeeded Ian Rickson as the head of the famous venue in 2007, has two more seasons of shows to programme before leaving the Royal Court to “focus on freelance work”. His time at the helm of the Royal Court may be best remembered for the skill with which it nurtured the talent of emerging playwrights, particularly young women. During his tenure, Bola Agbaje, Polly Stenham, Anya Reiss and Penelope Skinner have been among the award-winning authors to have their work championed by Cooke, while productions including ENRON, Jerusalem and Clybourne Park have scored major successes with transfers to the West End and Broadway.
Speaking about his time at the Royal Court, Cooke said: “Through the theatre’s burgeoning writers’ groups, we’ve brought a new generation of playwrights to the stage, including many young women. We’ve given main stage debuts to writers who had exclusively been produced in smaller spaces. We’ve produced many more experienced writers, allowing them to develop and flourish. Box office receipts and fundraising are at an all time high. We’ve launched Theatre Local, enabling many people to see a play for the first time. We’ve transferred and produced our own work in the West End and on Broadway, which has ensured the company’s financial security in troubling economic times. We have a committed and talented staff team who are at the top of their game. Much of this is due to Kate Horton, whose tenacity, managerial skill and wisdom have been an inspiration. On behalf of all the Royal Court staff I wish her all the best in her new role, in which I am sure she will excel.”
Horton added: “To work alongside Dominic Cooke at the Royal Court has been a privilege and a true joy. I couldn’t admire or value him more highly as a Director, Chief Executive or friend. It has been an honour to work with him in leading an extraordinary Royal Court team in delivering Dominic’s programme, in Sloane Square, Elephant and Castle, the West End and Broadway and I have also relished working with some of our most exciting writers, actors and artists.”
The Royal Court is currently staging a production of the latest play from celebrated playwright Joe Penhall, Haunted Child, while Cooke’s directorial work can currently be seen at the National Theatre, where his staging of The Comedy Of Errors is playing in the Olivier Theatre.