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Gate Artistic Directors Announce Joint Resignation

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The Gate Theatre’s Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell are the latest artistic directors to announce their resignations. The pair, who were jointly appointed to run the famous 70-seater in west London in March 2007, will step down in January 2012 in order to pursue freelance work in the UK and abroad.

Cracknell and Abrahami succeeded Thea Sharrock, who stepped down as her own freelance career took off with productions including the West End and Broadway revival of Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe. Then both in their late 20s, neither had previously run a theatre. Their appointment also marked the first joint artistic directors at the Gate, which was founded in 1979.

During their tenure, Cracknell and Abrahami have built on the Gate’s reputation for promoting international theatre, while also reinterpreting classic plays and expanding into more physical and dance-driven theatre, epitomised by a partnership with Sadler’s Wells which has seen annual transfers of their work to the dance centre in Islington.

Cracknell and Abrahami have presented more than 30 productions, including 18 world premieres. Also during their years in charge, the theatre has been nominated for a South Bank Show Award and received the 2008 Peter Brook Award. The women also received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund for creative entrepreneurs for their “Gate Elsewhere” initiative.

Outgoing Gate artistic directors Carrie Cracknell & Natalie Abrahami

Speaking today, when they also announced their farewell season to the end of 2011, Abrahami and Cracknell said: “After four years running the Gate, we are thrilled to announce our farewell season, which celebrates new talent, new writing and new interpretations of international classics that have been the signature of our tenure. We are honoured to welcome back so many familiar collaborators on stage and behind the scenes and we hope that the repertoire continues to delight and surprise in equal measure.”

Chair of the theatre’s board Jonathan Hull commented: “Over their four years at the Gate Theatre, Natalie and Carrie's programme of new international writing, dance theatre and contemporary adaptations of classics has been a great success and has built on the Gate's tradition of presenting bold, innovative, international theatre at our intimate venue in Notting Hill. The strength of their final season is a testament to their unique artistic vision.

“While we are sad to say farewell to Natalie and Carrie, the Gate has a strong future ahead of it, particularly given the recent confirmation of Arts Council funding through to 2015, and we are excited to see the direction in which a new Artistic Director will take the company."

In the Arts Council’s funding round, announced last month, the Gate received a 5% cash terms uplift, taking it to an annual grant of £304,565 in 2012/13, rising to nearly £320,000 by 2014/15.

Cracknell and Abrahami’s resignations follow departure announcements from the artistic directors of the Donmar Warehouse and the Gate’s west London neighbour the Bush (whose boss Josie Rourke will succeed Michael Grandage at the Donmar in the new year), as well as Birmingham Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse and, just announced at the end of last week, Salisbury Playhouse, where Philip Wilson steps down this July after four years in the job.

The Gate’s 2011 summer/winter season will include three original adaptations of international classics, the European premiere of an award-winning American comedy, and double bill of dance theatre. The theatre’s current offering - Cracknell’s production of Sophocles’ tragedy Electra, in a new version by Nick Payne, which opens this Wednesday 13 April 2011 (previews from 7 April) and continues until 14 May – will be followed by:

  • Dream Story - 15 June to 16 July 2011 (previews from 9 June)- Anna Ledwich adapts and directs a new version of Austrian Arthur Schnitzler’s tale about a husband and wife whose sexual fantasies of infidelity drive them apart on an extraordinary night-journey. The 1926 novella inspired Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut, starring then real-life husband and wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
  • Wittenberg - 1 September to 1 October 2011 (previews from 24 August) – Christopher Haydon directs the world premiere of American David Davalos’ 2008 play which sees two of history’s most stubborn intellectuals, Doctor Faustus and Martin Luther, go head to head in a battle of wits waged in front of their student, a troubled Prince Hamlet.
  • Dance Umbrella - The Gate works with London’s international festival of dance to present two premieres: the world premiere of co-commission The Difference Engine (12-22 October) and the UK premiere of Logobi (24-28 October).
  • Yerma - 11 November to 17 December 2011 (previews from 9 November) – Natalie Abrahami helms the directorship’s swansong production, Anthony Weigh’s new version of Lorca’s 1934 classic about a childless woman whose desperation to start a family with her husband leads her to uncover a secret that will condemn her to a life alone.
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