The Royal Court has announced that Vicky Featherstone will succeed Dominic Cooke as artistic director when he steps down in April 2013. She will be the first woman to lead the Sloane Square venue since it opened in 1956.

Featherstone has been artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland since its foundation in 2006, where early successes included the international hit Black Watch by Gregory Burke, directed by John Tiffany.  

Her own directing credits include 27 by Abi Morgan, The Wheel by Zinnie Harris, Cockroach by Sam Holcroft, 365 and Mary Stuart.

Prior to joining the NTS she was artistic director of new writing company Paines Plough (1997-2005), where she worked with writers including Enda Walsh, David Greig, Abi Morgan and Sarah Kane.

Regarding her new appointment, Vicky Featherstone said:  “Under the brilliant leadership of Dominic Cooke the Royal Court Theatre has achieved phenomenal success and it is a great honour and privilege to be taking over from him as artistic director. Since I first became aware of the power of theatre to challenge and entertain, the Royal Court has been at the very forefront of my experience.

“These are challenging times. Now more than ever we need places where reflection, question and visceral experience can elevate the daily and the private and remind us of our humanity and universality. The Royal Court is that place.”

Cooke, who is leaving to pursue freelance work, will have been at the helm of the Court for over seven years by the time he leaves. He said today: "I couldn’t be happier with Vicky’s appointment and am really pleased to be able to hand over the company to such a brilliant and inspiring director. Vicky has an outstanding record of bold programming at Paines Plough and National Theatre of Scotland and I look forward to seeing where she takes the company next."

Anthony Burton, Royal Court chairman, added: “I’m delighted that Vicky Featherstone will succeed Dominic Cooke, who has led the Royal Court so successfully for the last six years. Vicky dazzled the selection panel with her vision and inspiration and the English Stage Company Board was left in no doubt that she should lead the Royal Court and take it forward into its next exciting phase. I’m thrilled that for the first time in its 56-year history, the Royal Court will have a woman at its helm.”