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Farr leaves Lyric for RSC

First Published 19 May 2008, Last Updated 20 May 2008

David Farr will leave his position as Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in 2009 to become a fulltime Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Rupert Goold and Roxana Silbert also join the Stratford-based company as new members of the RSC creative ensemble announced today by Artistic Director Michael Boyd. Other recruits include playwright/director Anthony Neilson, who joins as Literary Associate, and actress Kathryn Hunter, who becomes an Artistic Associate.

While Farr is leaving his position as head of the Lyric Hammersmith to commit completely to the RSC, both Goold and Silbert will continue to work in their current roles as Artistic Directors of theatre companies Headlong and Paines Plough. Silbert is to join the company in the near future, while Goold’s commitment begins in 2010.

Since joining the Lyric Hammersmith in 2005, Farr has built upon his reputation for fostering exciting, often ground-breaking theatre aimed at younger audiences, collaborating with modern theatre practitioners such as Vesturport and Filter. Among his successful shows during his tenure have been Metamorphosis, the current revival of Pinter’s The Birthday Party and Contains Violence, which was performed in windows opposite the theatre while audiences listened through earphones.

Speaking about his decision to leave the West London venue, Farr said: “I am deeply proud of my time at the Lyric. We have become a theatre renowned for taking risks with pioneering artists, creating high quality work and attracting big new audiences who would perhaps be put off by a more conventional theatre-going experience. The theatre is blessed with a great Board, a great Chairman and in Jessica Hepburn one of the best Executive Directors in the country. I will miss their skill and passion very much. More than anything I will miss the remarkable commitment of the entire Lyric team. I have never felt such a shared sense of mission to make theatre genuinely modern, open and relevant. When in 2009 I leave for the RSC I am confident that that sense of mission will remain long into the future.”

The announcement comes the same day that Farr announced a Lyric Hammersmith season culminating in the British premiere of much-acclaimed Broadway musical Spring Awakening.

Boyd’s appointments can be seen as a step towards bringing a more modern feel to the Royal Shakespeare Company. In addition to Farr’s passion for mixing physicality with text, Goold’s recent Shakespearean revivals of The Tempest and Macbeth have garnered much critical acclaim for their readings of classic texts, and Hunter is revered for her work in inventive, ensemble theatre.

Neilson first collaborated with the RSC last Christmas with God In Ruins, which was staged at the Soho. One of Britain’s leading contemporary playwrights – his plays include The Wonderful World Of Dissocia, The Censor and Stitching – Neilson’s recruitment is a move which places new work in the foreground of the company’s ambitions.

Commenting on today’s appointments, Boyd said: “The RSC is very fortunate that some of the most inspirational theatre-makers of their generation want to make the RSC their artistic home over the coming years and help to redefine ensemble theatre-making in this country.”

The Royal Shakespeare Company can currently be seen in London at the Roundhouse, where it is staging Shakespeare’s Histories until 25 May.

MA

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