Sean Holmes (pictured) has been appointed as the new artistic director of west London’s Lyric Hammersmith. He begins in spring 2009, taking over from David Farr, who announced his resignation in May after three years in the position (See News, 20 May 2008). Farr leaves to become a full-time associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Holmes has also worked regularly for the RSC, helming the likes of Julius Caesar, Measure for Measure, Richard III, The Roman Actor, A New Way to Please You and the Filter co-production of Twelfth Night. His many other credits - at the Donmar Warehouse, Old Vic, Royal Court, Tricycle and elsewhere - include The Entertainer, The English Game, The Man Who Had All the Luck, The Price, Look Back in Anger, Moonlight and Magnolias and Pornography. He was an associate director of the Oxford Stage Company (now Headlong Theatre) from 2001 to 2006.

Holmes is currently in rehearsal for the new stage adaptation of Treasure Island, starring Keith Allen and opening at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket next month, after which he’ll revive Joe Orton’s Loot, starring Matt DiAngelo, at the Tricycle Theatre in December.

Commenting on his Lyric appointment, Holmes said today: “The first time I saw a show at the Lyric Hammersmith I fell in love with the space. Now as artistic director I am deeply excited at the prospect of running a theatre with such a rich and varied history, and I look forward to building on the strong foundations left by David Farr during his tenure. The Lyric has always been a place where you expect the unexpected, and I intend to continue this tradition with a wide-ranging body of work which will engage, surprise and delight our audience.”

Sandy Orr, chairman of the theatre’s board, added: “We are delighted and fortunate that Sean Holmes has accepted our invitation to become the artistic director. Everyone knows that Sean is one of today’s outstanding theatre directors. His contribution to all aspects of the theatre’s activities, including the Lyrics groundbreaking work with young people will be significant.”

The Lyric is currently programmed through to the end of February, culminating with the UK premiere of award-winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening. Holmes is likely to launch his first season in the autumn, with interim programming planned by Farr and executive director and joint chief executive Jessica Hepburn.

One of London’s leading Off-West End theatres, the Lyric Hammersmith comprises a 559-seat, traditional Victorian auditorium, designed by Frank Matcham, and a 120-seat black box studio. In an eclectic programme of in-house, co-produced and visiting productions, amongst the pioneering companies regularly seen at the theatre are Filter, Kneehigh, Improbable, Frantic Assembly, Told by an Idiot and the National Theatre of Scotland.

- by Terri Paddock