Adrian Noble Steps Down as RSC Artistic DirectorDate: 24 April 2002
Embattled RSC artistic director Adrian Noble has this morning announced that he will be stepping down next year, after 12 years leading the flagship theatrical institution. Noble's radical plans to shake-up the Royal Shakespeare Company - by withdrawing its London residency at the Barbican Centre, rewriting ensemble contracts and demolishing the listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford in favour of a modern "theatrical village" amongst other things - have come under fierce criticism over the past year. His contract with the company comes to an end in March 2003 and, today, he has confirmed that he will not be renewing it.
In a press statement released this morning, Noble said: "It has been an enormous privilege for me to lead this wonderful organisation since 1991. After 22 years with the Company, it is now time for me to seek new artistic challenges. It is helpful for everyone involved with the RSC that there is clarity about my plans, and I informed our Chairman Lord Alexander of my decision on Monday morning.
"The toughest elements of the renewal programme we announced last year have now been delivered," he continued. "The foundations of our new operating model and organisation are now in place. We have maintained the repertoire ensemble as the heart of the Company while offering a much wider range of opportunity to actors at all points in their career. We have a new relationship with the Barbican. The first Academy Company has been assembled. We have just announced our second North American residency. We are actively formulating our plans for the redevelopment of our Stratford theatres. Our changes have already released huge creativity. The residency at the Roundhouse is now under way and there are the excellent new productions opening in Stratford and London this week.
Noble concluded: "I have been blessed with superb colleagues throughout the RSC, as well as highly supportive governing bodies. I look forward to continuing to deliver our ambitious programme - both on the stage and off it - during my remaining year with the Company."
Commenting on the announcement, Lord Alexander, Chairman of the RSC's Board of Governors said: "It obviously is Adrian's decision that next spring is the right time to move on from the RSC and that this is the right time to make it known. Adrian Noble has made an outstanding contribution to the RSC over the last 22 years and in particular since 1991 when he became artistic director. He is a most accomplished director of classical drama and his artistic leadership has brought new artists and audiences to our work - maintaining the Company's radical edge in interpretation of classics and also in developing new work."
Lord Alexander confirmed that the company will follow through with the radical plans set in motion by Noble, who will continue his involvement until his departure. Amongst other RSC project, he will be directing Pericles at the Roundhouse, reviving The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in Stratford and leading Ralph Fiennes in a new production of Ibsen's Brand next spring. The Board are now beginning the process of recruiting a replacement, who will be responsible for programming from summer 2003 onwards.
Noble has already begun his freelance career, having taken a sabbatical to direct the very high profile world premiere of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has just opened to strong reviews in the West End.
- by Terri Paddock