Rickson Leaves After Royal Court 50th AnniversaryDate: 29 September 2005
Ian Rickson today announced his resignation as artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre. He will step down in December 2006, at the end of next yearís season celebrating the 50th anniversary of the renowned new writing venue.
Rickson, who is the third longest-serving artistic director in the Royal Courtís history, took over from Stephen Daldry in 1998. At the time, it was seen as a somewhat risky choice. Although Rickson, a former actor, had a reputation internally - having risen up through the ranks since joining the Court's youth theatre in 1991, then becoming an associate director in 1994 - he was little-known elsewhere.
That perception has certainly changed in the past few years, during which Rickson has overseen the Court's delayed return to Sloane Square following a £25 million refurbishment, as well as the development of dozens of new writers. Before and since becoming artistic director, he has also personally directed numerous acclaimed productions including Conor McPhersonís The Weir, Jez Butterworthís Mojo, Kevin Elyot's Mouth to Mouth and Rebecca Gilman's The Sweetest Swing in Baseball starring Gillian Anderson.
The Royal Court Theatre was originally built in 1888. In 1955, after years of disuse and bombing during the Blitz, the Court became the home of the English Stage Company, which pledged to promote the work of forward-looking, modern playwrights. The company's first season, in 1956, included John Osborne's Look Back in Anger. Since then, the theatre has played an instrumental role in developing the careers of playwrights such as Edward Bond, Arnold Wesker, Christopher Hampton, David Hare, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Sarah Kane, Caryl Churchill, Joe Penhall and many others.
Full details of 2006ís 50th anniversary season will be announced at a press conference at the Royal Court on 11 October 2005. However, it will include: the return of past Royal Court artistic directors, directors and writers to lead new work; the reprise of selected older works premiered at the theatre; and several events to celebrate famous moments from the Court's history.
A spokesman told Whatsonstage.com that the news about Ricksonís departure should not overshadow plans for the theatreís milestone celebrations. The directorís current contract ran through to April 2005 with a 12-month extension option (See News, 20 Feb 2002). At the invitation of the board, he has agreed to stay on still longer to oversee the entire 50th anniversary year. The theatre will begin advertising next month for a successor, who will take over in January 2007 after a transition period.
- by Terri Paddock