BAC Artistic Director Morris Joins NT as AssociateDate: 30 May 2003
Tom Morris, the artistic director of Battersea Arts Centre for the last eight years, has announced that he is leaving BAC, and will take up a new post as Associate Director at the National Theatre in January 2004 to develop theatre projects for the NT's programme.
It was at BAC that the current National Theatre hit, Jerry Springer - the Opera, was born and nurtured, and where Nicholas Hytner first saw it and invited its creators to develop the show further at the National Theatre when he took over.
About bringing Morris on board at the National, Hytner has commented: "I could not be more delighted that Tom Morris is joining the National as one of its two Associate Directors". (The other is Howard Davies). "I have long been a huge admirer of BAC and of the extraordinary work Tom has done there in developing and producing wonderfully entertaining and provocative shows that challenge our preconceptions about what theatre can be. Tom was responsible for the genesis and development of Jerry Springer - The Opera and it's very good news that he's bringing his great gifts to the National. We're all looking forward to breaking new ground here and Tom will be a central part of our future."
Morris, whose work has established BAC as a national centre for the development of theatre, comments, "I am enormously excited by the possibility of developing work for the larger stages of the National Theatre. I passionately believe in theatre as a live, flexible, contemporary art form - and have been lucky enough to encounter a range of artists with the vision and commitment to reinvent theatrical form for a new generation of audiences. The new National is driven by an embracing, experimental and inclusive approach to British theatre, and I am delighted to be able to join it."
At BAC, he pioneered the so-called "scratch programme", allowing work by innovative artists to develop through a series of works in progress in front of a live audience. It's a method that has supported work by, amongst many other, Improbable Theatre, Complicite, The Shout, Frantic Assembly, Told by an Idiot, Gecko, Ridiculusmus, Kazuko Hohki, and of course Jerry Springer - The Opera's conceiver Richard Thomas.
In recognition of its programme, BAC's Arts Council grant has been increased by 271% over the last two years. BAC President and local MP Martin Linton paid tribute to Morris, saying, "Tom has won a huge following for BAC both among local people in Battersea, Clapham and Wandsworth and among theatre lovers across London. He has succeeded in giving BAC a clear identity as the leading venue for breaking new ground in theatre and live events. In all the time I have been associated with the Battersea Arts Centre, and that goes back to its launch in 1974, its reputation has never been higher."
- by Mark Shenton