Michael Grandage (pictured) announced today that he will be stepping down from his post at Sheffield Theatres next June. The 2004/2005 season (exclusively announced to Whatsonstage.com last month - See News, 19 May 2004) marks the completion of Grandage’s five-year artistic plan for Sheffield, where he’s been associate director, responsible for programming while also, since December 2002, acting as artistic director of London’s Donmar Warehouse. Last week, he also released details of his first original West End production, a 2005 revival of Guys and Dolls, to be co-produced by the Donmar and the Ambassador Theatre Group (See News, 16 Jun 2004).

Since joining Sheffield in 1999, Grandage has helped to raise its artistic reputation to a national level, growing audiences by 75% and attracting such internationally famous actors as Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Diana Rigg and Joseph Fiennes. In a recent poll on Whatsonstage.com, Sheffield was voted one of the UK’s top two regional theatres (See “The State of Regional Theatre” Big Debate, Apr 2004).

Grandage’s own Sheffield productions have included the multi award-winning As You Like It, Richard III with Branagh and, more recently, The Tempest with Jacobi and Suddenly Last Summer with Rigg, both of which transferred to the West End.

In a statement released today, Grandage said: “This new season marks my fifth year of programming at Sheffield Theatres. I believe now is the time to hand over to an artistic leader who can look to the future with confidence and take the theatre to the next exciting stage of its development. I have had the most rewarding period of my life in Sheffield. I owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of Sheffield Theatres and most particularly to our loyal audience who have helped us develop our work to an astounding place over these last few years.”

The recruitment process for Grandage’s replacement will begin in a fortnight with an appointment expected later in 2004, giving the new director a lengthy transition period. After he steps down, Grandage will take a seat on the Sheffield Theatres Board of Trustees.

Commenting on the news, Sheffield’s recently joined chief executive Angela Galvin said: “Michael’s contribution to the artistic life of Sheffield Theatres is immeasurable. During the last five years, he has worked tirelessly to produce the very best work here in Sheffield, enabling us to establish a position as a key player in the industry and develop a large, loyal audience. His artistic leadership has inspired, moved and thrilled staff as well as audiences.”

Grandage is currently auditioning for the new season’s launch production, a new translation of Schiller’s Don Carlos, running 28 September to 2 November 2004 (previews from 22 September), in which he’ll direct Derek Jacobi in the title role. Other highlights for 2004/2005 include the reunion of former Almeida artistic directors Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid for Edward Bond’s Lear, Broadway musical Ain't Misbehavin', Sheffield debuts for actors-turned-directors Samuel West and Kathy Burke and world premieres of plays by of Steve Waters, Morris Panych (See News, 19 May 2004).

- by Terri Paddock