On the same day that Mike Bradwell announced his departure from the Bush Theatre, another fringe powerhouse in west London confirmed that its artistic director will also be stepping down. Thea Sharrock (pictured) will leave in April 2007, at the end of the Gate Theatre’s current season, her third season since taking over at the highly influential 70-seat venue in August 2004.

The final production that Sharrock is directing in the job, a revival of Ionesco’s 1952 one-acter The Chairs, opens next week (23 November 2006, previews from 16 November) for a limited four-week run to 16 December (See News, 5 Oct 2006). The cast includes Susan Brown and Nicholas Woodeson.

Sharrock leaves the Gate to focus on her freelance career, which has seen her represented in the West End with ever-increasing frequency. Her Donmar Warehouse production of John Mortimer’s A Voyage Round My Father is currently at Wyndham’s Theatre, and in February, her highly anticipated revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus, starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths, opens at the Gielgud Theatre (See News, 1 Nov 2006). Sharrock’s previous West End credits include Heroes, Blithe Spirit and Top Girls.

At the Gate, Sharrock’s credits have included acclaimed productions of Tshepang, Tejas Verdes and The Emperor Jones. During her tenure, the Gate also produced its first-ever musical, a reinvention of Hair, directed by associate Daniel Kramer, who also directed the Gate revival of Woyzeck, which has transferred to New York where it opened last night (16 November 2006) at St Ann's Warehouse.

Prior to the Gate, Sharrock was artistic director of Southwark Playhouse and an associate director with the Peter Hall Company, for whom she directed Design for Living, Don Juan, Private Lives, Betrayal and Blithe Spirit. Her credits elsewhere include Deep Blue Sea, A Doll’s House and The Boy Who Fell into a Book.

Established in 1979, the Gate was one of the first theatres to produce and collaborate with Eastern European theatre practitioners and opened the way for a rapid proliferation of international work on London’s stages. Its previous artistic directors are Lou Stein, Giles Croft, Stephen Daldry, Laurence Boswell, David Farr, Mick Gordon and Erica Whyman. The board is now advertising the vacancy and will begin interviewing candidates in the New Year.

Following The Chairs, Sharrock’s final Gate season continues with Anna Mackmin’s production of Ibsen’s Ghosts, newly translated by Amelia Bullmore, running from 11 January to 17 February 2007 (previews from 6 January). The season concludes with the London premiere of Naomi Wallace’s Things of Dry Hours, running from 8 to 31 March 2006 (previews from 6 March).

- by Terri Paddock