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Sean Holmes at the Olivier Awards 2011 with Mastercard (Photo: Richard Young)

Sean Holmes to depart Lyric Hammersmith in October

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson Published May 8, 2018

Influential Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith, Sean Holmes, has announced that he will step down in October 2018 after almost a decade in the role.

Having joined the Lyric in January 2009, Holmes’ tenure has seen him direct 22 shows, including the Olivier Award-winning Blasted, which received the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award.

He also planned, raised funds and completed a major capital development project in 2015, during his joint tenure with the then Executive Director of the venue, Jessica Hepburn. He reopened the theatre with the first stage version in over a decade of Bugsy Malone.

Holmes’ other achievements at the Lyric include the innovative Secret Theatre project, which reimagined the theatregoing experience, and his exceptional championing of diversity and access for young people, which has increased dramatically under his and current Executive Director Sian Alexander’s joint leadership.

He also became known for his distinctive programming choices, with the venue housing both experimental and accessible works. Having introduced Pantomime to the Lyric, it is now firmly established as a local tradition and celebrates 10 years in 2018, while he also welcomed shows such as Philip Venables’ operatic setting of Sarah Kane’s final play 4.48 Psychosis and Things I Know To Be True from Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company Australia.

The end of Holmes’ tenure at the Lyric will see a 3-month refurbishment of the theatre’s 550 seat Victorian Matcham auditorium and the modernisation of the Studio theatre, beginning in June 2018.

Of the announcement, Holmes said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky over the last nine years to have been the Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith. During that time, it has been a home to the weird, the wonderful and the unexpected.

“I’m going to miss it very much, but I feel it’s time for a new generation to take over the helm and look forward with great anticipation and excitement to seeing a new artistic vision illuminating the theatre I love.”

The search for Holmes’ successor will begin at the end of May.

Lisa Burger, Chair of the Board says: “Sean has directed an extraordinary range of work for the Lyric… On behalf of the Board I want to express huge gratitude for an incredible nine and a half years and wish him the very best as he returns to a freelance directing career.”

Find out more about the Lyric Hammersmith here.

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