Sam Walters, the country’s longest-serving Artistic Director, has announced that he will step down from his 42-year post at the Orange Tree theatre.
Together with his wife Auriol Smith, who will also retire from her position as Associate Director in June next year, Walters founded the venue in 1971 in a room above the Orange Tree pub. Since then, the theatre has moved premises and enjoyed continued success as the capital’s only purpose built theatre-in-the-round.
During his almost half a century career at the Richmond venue, Walters’ productions have spanned everything from Shakespeare and Feydeau to contemporary playwrights Martin Crimp and James Saunders, with his most recent productions including The Stepmother, Sauce For The Goose and Yours For The Asking.
Before leaving the venue in 2014, Walters, who received an MBE in 1999 for his services to theatre, will direct the world premiere of Susan Glaspell’s Springs Eternal later this year, which will be followed by a major new three-part stage adaptation of George Elliot’s Middlemarch.