Theatre News

Matthew Warchus to step down as the Old Vic artistic director

Warchus has signalled when his time at the London theatre will end

Matthew Warchus, © Craig Gibson
Matthew Warchus, © Craig Gibson

The Old Vic has announced that Matthew Warchus will step down as artistic director.

Warchus, who was appointed in 2015, has overseen a major transformation of the venue’s reputation and buildings, becoming more accessible with transformed front-of-house, stage door, and back-of-house spaces.

The Old Vic, one of London’s oldest and largest producing theatres, annually welcomes over 270,000 people. In the 2022/2023 season, it achieved a seated capacity of 91 per cent.

Concluding his tenure in September 2026, after 11 years in the role, Warchus’ ten seasons of work have featured 25 world premieres, West End and Broadway transfers, national and international tours, and numerous award nominations. Notable productions include the recurring highlight A Christmas Carol, scripted by Jack Thorne. This production has become a staple at the Old Vic and has spin-off productions in various cities, raising over £1.6 million for food bank and homeless charities.

Another highlight of Warchus’ tenure is the musical adaptation of Groundhog Day, which he conceived, developed, and directed. The show has had two record-breaking runs at the Old Vic and received acclaim on Broadway and in Melbourne, winning multiple awards.

Warchus’ statement in full: “Being the artistic director of the Old Vic has been one of my life’s greatest privileges and pleasures. It is without question my favourite theatre in the world.

“A charity without any regular public subsidy, the survival of the Old Vic is dependent on regularly filling its 1,000 seats by engaging as wide an audience as possible with work of the highest quality. An average year of performances at the Old Vic will necessarily play to a total capacity greatly exceeding that of most of the exciting, but much smaller, producing venues in the capital – more than double the Young Vic, about three times the Almeida, Hampstead and Royal Court, and more than four times that of the Donmar. And for the same reasons, the Old Vic’s accessible ticket scheme likely provides more affordable tickets than any other London theatre except for the National.

“This level of reach represents a great opportunity, challenge and responsibility. My aim has been to deliver ‘entertainment with a purpose’… a varied programme of work with always something important to say but which doesn’t feel like medicine… and I’m proud of the many fun, uplifting and inspiring productions we have presented throughout my tenure. The greatest joy and privilege, however, is in the huge number of first-time theatregoers we continue to welcome through our doors. This quintessential playhouse with an exhilarating spirit of adventure, the Old Vic really is the perfect place to experience theatre for the first time. 

“The Old Vic board, senior management team and entire staff is comprised of brilliant colleagues, who have provided exemplary support and expertise and, the truth is, I would happily stay for many more years but it’s time to pass on this very prestigious baton. Meanwhile, I’m delighted to be continuing for two more seasons and look forward to announcing those upcoming shows in due course.”