Mike Bradwell (pictured), artistic director of the Bush Theatre since 1996, has announced that he will step down at the end of this year after a decade at the acclaimed new writing theatre in west London.

The last production Bradwell will direct at the Bush will be the premiere of Georgia Fitch’s I Like Mine with a Kiss, opening on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2007. This bookends with the first production he directed after taking over from Dominic Dromgoole in June 1996, Kiss the Sky.

Commenting on his departure, Bradwell said: "After ten very happy and fruitful years, I have decided to step down as artistic director of the Bush Theatre. I think it's time somebody else has a go. I want to spend time concentrating on writing and devising my own work, and I would like the opportunity to work on a broader canvas. I also would like to take a gap year and direct all the major plays of Anton Chekhov. I have been fortunate to work with some of the greatest theatre practitioners in the country, and I would like to thank them for the ride."

Bradwell’s first production at the Bush was in 1974, when he visited with Hull Truck, the company he founded in 1971. Since then, he has directed more than 35 plays at the Bush including Doug Lucie’s Hard Feelings and Love You, Too, Terry Johnson’s Unsuitable for Adults, Joe Penhall’s Love and Understanding, Catherine Johnson’s Shang-a-Lang and Little Baby Nothing, Tim Fountain’s Resident Alien, Emma Frost’s Airsick, Catherine Trieschmann’s Crooked, Georgia Fitch’s adrenalin...heart, Jack Thorne’s When You Cure Me and Richard Cameron’s The Glee Club, which also transferred to the West End. Bradwell has also directed new plays by Helen Cooper, GF Newman, Jonathan Gems, Richard Cameron, Flann O'Brien and Terry Johnson at Hampstead Theatre, the Tricycle, King's Head, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Royal Court, where he was previously an associate director, and elsewhere.

John Shakeshaft, chairman of the Bush Board, said: “We are enormously proud of the body of work Mike has created with the Bush, and we wish him well with all his future plans.”

The Board will be advertising in the national press shortly for Bradwell’s successor. The Bush Theatre opened in April 1972 in the upstairs dining room (previously used as Lionel Blair's dance studio) of the Bush Hotel in Shepherd's Bush, west London. Despite its size – just 80 seats – the theatre has established a national and international reputation as a centre for new writing. Amongst the Bush's many other playwright discoveries are Stephen Poliakoff, Snoo Wilson, Ron Hutchinson, Kevin Elyot, Billy Roche, Tony Kushner, Jonathan Harvey, Conor McPherson and Charlotte Jones.

Currently at the Bush, Terry Johnson’s premiere production of Steve Thompson’s political satire Whipping It Up - starring Richard Wilson, Robert Bathurst and Helen Schlesinger – continues its limited season until 16 December 2006, ahead of a possible West End transfer (See The Goss, 10 Nov 2006).

- by Terri Paddock