Director Laurie Sansom - who, since 2002, has worked alongside Alan Ayckbourn as associate director and education director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough - has been appointed the new artistic director of the Royal and Derngate Theatres in Northampton. He will take up his new role in March 2006 ahead of the venue’s reopening later in the year following a £14 million redevelopment.

Sansom succeeds Rupert Goold, who left in August last year to lead the Oxford Stage Company in the position left vacant by Dominic Dromgoole when he became artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe (See News, 21 Jul 2005).

Sansom directed an acclaimed revival of JB Priestley’s Dangerous Corner, which transferred from Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse to the West End’s Garrick Theatre and earned him a Award nomination for Newcomer of the Year. His other credits include Charlotte Bronte’s Villette and Sarah Woods’ Soap at SJT, Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills (New Vic Theatre in Newcastle Under Lyme), Terry Johnson’s Hysteria (Salisbury Playhouse) and Frankie and Tommy and 2.18 Underground (London’s Lyric Hammersmith).

Sansom started his career with the National Student Drama Festival, prior to working with Giles Croft (current artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse) at the Palace Theatre in Watford.

Commenting on the appointment, Royal and Derngate chief executive Donna Munday said: “We are so excited that Laurie is joining us as we move towards our reopening. We think he is an exceptional director and can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to see the wonderful work he will create in Northampton. He will be a great addition to the team that will deliver our breathtaking new building.”

Sansom added: “I feel very privileged to be part of the team leading the Royal and Derngate into its next remarkable phase. Whilst developing the recent reputation for dynamic retellings of classic plays and stories, I aim to make Northampton a place where the nation’s most exciting actors and theatre makers want to create genuinely unique projects. We will ensure that not only do we present the best in live performance, but also place this wonderful resource at the very heart of the community.”

- by Caroline Ansdell