Pimlott's Trio Takes Over Chichester LeadershipDate: 24 July 2002
A triumvirate of theatre veterans - including award-winning RSC director Steven Pimlott (pictured) - will take over the running of Chichester Festival Theatre from November 2002, following the departure of Andrew Welch who steps down as artistic director of the West Sussex theatre in September.
Pimlott - whose recent London productions include Andrew Lloyd Webber's £4 million musical Bombay Dreams and Samuel West's much-lauded Hamlet for the RSC at the Barbican - is joined by former Nottingham Playhouse leaders Ruth Mackenzie (executive director from 1990 to 1996) and Martin Duncan (artistic director from 1994 to 1999).
Aside from the Nottingham connection, the three have worked together extensively at other theatres and on various productions. Pimlott and Duncan were both associate directors of the Sheffield Crucible, and the trio recently formed their own production company "Time/Room". They submitted a joint application to Chichester for the two advertised posts of artistic director and chief executive. A spokeswoman for Chichester told Whatsonstage.com that the theatre's board of directors was thrilled to get "three for the price of two" to forge its future.
In August, the new management team will begin working on a three-year plan for Chichester and, subject to the acceptance of the plan by the appropriate funding bodies, will begin their joint three-year contract on 4 November.
Commenting on the appointment, outgoing artistic director Welch said: "I am pleased to be handing over to such a distinguished group. The theatre and the community welcome them and will benefit by their innovative plans."
In a joint statement, Pimlott, Mackenzie and Duncan added: "We are conscious of 40 years' achievement of the Chichester Festival Theatre, and it is an honour to work on plans to build on its history."
Martin Duncan was artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse where he presented work by Robert Lepage, Luc Bondy, Elizabeth Streb, Silviu Purcarete and Stéphane Braunschweig. He has forged strong links with theatres across the world from the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, to the Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin and the Staats Theater Stockholm, a well as touring his own work to theatre festivals in Bucharest, Rome, Weimar, and Tokyo. Duncan, one of the creators of the comic group The National Theatre of Brent, has most recently directed for them Love Upon the Throne (Edinburgh Festival, Berlin Festival and Comedy Theatre - Olivier Award Nomination) and The Wonder of Sex (National Theatre). As a composer, Duncan has written musical scores for over 50 productions, including the London premiere of Edward Bond's Bingo (Royal Court). His opera productions this year are The Rake's Progress for the Munich State Opera (opened last week), Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (Royal Albert Hall in November 2002), D'Oyly Carte's HMS Pinafore (Savoy Theatre in December 2002), The Abduction from the Seraglio (Munich in January 2003).
Ruth Mackenzie, while executive director of Nottingham Playhouse, successfully implemented a new artistic management structure in the theatre which facilitated its creative growth. She was general director of Scottish Opera, where she engaged international directors such as Luc Bondy, Silviu Purcarete and Robert Lepage and made co-productions with the Vienna and Edinburgh International Festivals. She was special adviser to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 1999 to 2002. Previously, she was drama officer for the Arts Council of Great Britain, Head of Strategic Planning at the South Bank Centre, and has been on the boards of the Arts Council of England Lottery and Touring Panels, the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) and Panel 2000 for the Foreign Office. She is currently a member of the QCA Committee on Creativity and the Chancellor's Forum at the London Institute and Governor at Trinity College of Music. In 1995, Mackenzie was created OBE for services to theatre.
Steven Pimlott was previously an associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where, as part of his extensive directorial career, he gained critical and popular acclaim for his imaginative Shakespeare productions, including his direction of Samuel West in Hamlet and Richard II, and Alan Bates and Frances de la Tour in Antony and Cleopatra. His reputation has been long established internationally through the production of more than 30operas in Germany, Austria, Australia, Japan, Israel and the UK where recent work with the ENO has included The Coronation of Poppea and La Bohème. In continued collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Pimlott has directed Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (West End and North America) and the current Bombay Dreams, and is preparing a new production of The Sound of Music for London next year.
- by Terri Paddock