I want to be Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. In my opinion, the Donmar is perfectly sized; small enough that every seat is a good seat, but big enough to attract world-leading theatremakers. This attraction is due, in part, to its two previous directors, Sam Mendes (1992 – 2002) and Michael Grandage, who announced in 2010 that he’d be stepping down from the job, and that the theatre would be looking for a replacement…

It’s my lifetime ambition to be Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. You can imagine my distress, therefore, when I logged on to Twitter last week to find out that Josie Rouke had got my job. Rourke has been Artistic Director of The Bush since 2007. In her time, she’s established the theatre as a powerhouse of new writing, and is currently overseeing its move to the old Shepherd’s Bush Library. In 2010, she made her debut at the National Theatre with the incredible Men Should Weep, and she’s currently casting for another NT affiliated show, Much Ado About Nothing, featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate. After that, on the 1st Jan 2012, when Grandage has finished overseeing Spelling Bee, Moonlight, Schiller and Richard II, she’ll be pretty busy running one of the most exciting venues in the country.


Advert

I guess what’s important when discussing Rourke’s career to date is to consider the long periods spent as an associate or an assistant, particularly at venues, such as the Donmar, that encourage young artists and offer them a platform to learn and produce their own work, particularly through its hugely successful and sought after Resident Assistant Director programme, which boasts alumni such as Rupert Goold, Sacha Wares, and, of course, Josie Rourke (2000). This is one of the reasons that the Donmar has a special place in her heart: “It’s the place where I began, where I did my training and have been so supported in my career by Sam and by Michael. On a personal level it just means a great deal.” In an interview with Fiona Mountford in October 2010 (here), she addressed the issue of training and support for emerging artists in this challenging financial environment.  Sustaining such initiatives will soon fall to her, so it’s promising to hear that she takes it so seriously. Alex Wright, of York-based company Belt Up Theatre, wrote a blog last week on a similar topic (here) addressing the need for these networks to remain in place, to encourage, support, and showcase the Josie Rourkes of the future. Clearly it’s a hot topic, and it’s good to know the Donmar, at least, is in safe hands.

Meanwhile, it seems there’s a job opportunity for Artistic Director of The Bush Theatre in its new home. As a bastion of new writing, I guess it’d be interesting to see a playwright finally take the reigns – rumour has it that Mark Ravenhill had his eye on the Artistic Director position at Soho Theatre in 2010, and now that he’s turned Director at the King’s Head, it’d be great timing.

Michael Grandage, on the other hand, has two operas and a musical to keep him busy for the time being.  Fingers crossed he’ll still be home in time and prepared for Nicholas Hytner’s departure from the National…