Lighting designer Paule Constable, poet and playwright Tashan Cushnie, actor and director Ferdy Roberts and playwright Simon Stephens have been named Artistic Associates of the Lyric Hammersmith by incoming Artistic Director Sean Holmes.
Holmes described the appointments as: “very exciting for all of us here at the Lyric. It promises a sustained and productive relationship with a group of talented and committed artists; artists who will champion the work of our theatre, challenge our artistic direction and work closely with our acclaimed Creative Learning department.”
The work of the associates spans a wide range; both Stephens and Constable have won Laurence Olivier Awards for their previous work, while Cushnie is an emerging artist who works part-time as a Lyric Hammersmith usher.
Constable won Laurence Oliver Awards in both 2005 and 2006 for her lighting of His Dark Materials and Don Carlos. She is also nominated twice in the upcoming Laurence Olivier Awards, which are announced on 8 March, for her work on The Chalk Garden and Ivanov. Among Constable’s other productions are Warhorse, St Joan, Coram Boy (all National Theatre), The Good Soul Of Szechuan, Vernon God Little (both Young Vic) and Evita (Adelphi theatre).
Stephens won the Best New Play Laurence Olivier Award in 2006 for On The Shore Of The Wide World, which was staged at the National Theatre. Among his other plays are Bluebird, Herons, Country Music, Motortown (all Royal Court), One Minute, Christmas, Sea Wall (all Bush theatre) and Harper Regan (National Theatre)
Roberts is the co-Artistic Director of Filter theatre company, which Holmes previously worked with on the National Theatre co-production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and the Royal Shakespeare Company co-production of Twelfth Night. Filter’s work was last staged at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2007, when it presented Water, directed by the theatre’s former Artistic Director David Farr.
Cushnie, a 21-year-old from West London, set up Youth Inc, an organisation for local young people, for which he wrote, co-directed and starred in musical Real On Road in October 2007. The piece, about teen on teen killing, sparked the interest of the Lyric Hammersmith’s Creative Learning department, which promptly programmed it in the Lyric Studio and asked Cushnie to join the Lyric Young Company. Cushnie is currently writing a new play, In Search Of, for the Lyric Hammersmith’s Youth Take Over Week 2009.
Speaking about his new role, Cushnie said: “Being appointed as an Artistic Associate reaffirms my belief that the Lyric is an outstanding organisation that galvanises young people.”
The West London venue is currently staging the UK premiere of musical Spring Awakening, a coming of age tale of personal discovery and sexual awakening starring a cast largely comprising newcomers. The musical opened last week, but has proved so popular it has already extended its run by two weeks to 14 March.