Theatre News

Gareth Nicholls and Debbie Hannan announced as Traverse Theatre co-artistic directors

The duo will take on the role in early 2020

Debbie Hannan and Gareth Nicholls
Debbie Hannan and Gareth Nicholls
© right: Lauren McLay

Gareth Nicholls and Debbie Hannan have been announced today as the new co-artistic directors of the Traverse Theatre, following Orla O'Loughlin's departure in December 2018 after almost seven years in the post.

Nicholls – previously the venue's associate director and acting as interim artistic director for the last year – will partner with director Debbie Hannan, who joins the organisation after her recent success directing the National Theatre of Scotland's stage adaptation of Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon.

Hannan says of the announcement: "I am thrilled to be returning to my home town to join such a brilliant and ambitious team who are transforming theatre from the inside out. The Traverse's adventurous and inherently democratic mission to deliver new stories and expand their audiences encourages a widening where the world is currently narrowing: it is rooted in the kind of radicalism that Scotland does best – bold, brilliant, inclusive, in a voice of our own.

"I first came to the Traverse as a local kid on a school trip, and heard working class characters speaking in my accent on stage for the first time. I knew then that my voice was valid, that the stage wasn't an exclusive space. We will bring this experience to a whole new range of people, as we go beyond the building to expand who tells and experiences our stories."

The Traverse Theatre has also announced that Lesley Anne Rose will join as director of creative development, working with Nicholls and Hannah to develop pathways for new voices in Scotland and further afield. Rose will also continue her work as an appointed embedded artist working with Creative Carbon Scotland and Climate Ready Clyde. Sunniva Ramsay – currently the theatre's creative producer – has been appointed as senior producer, creative development and Eleanor White – currently the organisation's literary assistant – becomes literary associate.

Nicholls comments: "It's a thrilling time to be at the Traverse and I'm honoured to be continuing my work here alongside Debbie, Lesley Anne and the rest of the brilliant team at the Traverse. Scotland is blessed with an abundance of passionate writers telling vital stories and I'm looking forward to working with them to create entertaining, dynamic and ambitious new work that places audiences at their heart. I can't wait to get started."

Alongside this, the Traverse Theatre has appointed three new Board members – Rebecca O'Brien, an independent film producer who has worked on many of Ken Loach's acclaimed films; award-winning writer and theatremaker Kieran Hurley, who wrote the Traverse's recent smash hit production of Mouthpiece, and Bryony Shanahan, joint artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

The new team will take up their roles in early 2020.